Football: Falcons top Army in slugfest

  • Published
  • By Maj. Don Kerr
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
Riding the strong leg of kicker Ryan Harrison, the U.S. Air Force Academy outlasted the U.S. Military Academy 16-7 in a defensive battle that saw two of the nation's top ten rushing offenses held to 100 yards below their average Nov. 1 here.

With the eighth and fourth-ranked rushing attacks in the country respectively, the Army and Air Force ground games often came to a screeching halt on a day dominated by defense.

Both offenses struggled to get any momentum going in this year's service academy brawl between the Black Knights and Falcons. But it was the Air Force defense that made just enough plays at the right times, to help preserve a nine-point win. 

After falling behind 7-0, Harrison connected on a 21-yard field goal at the end of the first quarter. Both defenses were stingy in the first half, holding their opponent's offenses under 150 total yards. 

When it appeared both squads were headed to the locker room content with a 7-3 Army lead, the Falcons' Reggie Rembert took a punt at his own 16-yard-line and weaved through defenders all the way to the Black Knight 49. Army was flagged for a personal foul on the punt return, resulting in a 1st and 10 for the Falcons at the Army 34. After a 21-yard hookup on the next play from Air Force freshman quarterback Tim Jefferson to receiver Ty Paffett, Jefferson barreled in over the right side for his second rushing touchdown of the season, giving his team a three-point halftime lead.

The second half belonged to kicker/punter and Lou Groza Award semifinalist Harrison. He backed up his selection earlier this week for the annual award that recognizes the top kicker in the nation, by booting a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter and then icing the game with a 48-yard bomb with 1:42 to play in the game. 

But it was his precision punting that kept Air Force out of trouble and Army deep in their own territory for much of the afternoon. After placing three punts inside the 20-yard-line in the first half, Harrison continued his reliability on fourth down, booming a 54-yarder in the fourth quarter from his own 24 and then putting Army at their own seven with less than nine minutes to play.

Air Force held the Black Knights to 143 yards rushing, their lowest output of the season. The Falcons also forced three turnovers, forcing a fumble and intercepting Bowden two times on the day. 

The Falcons' Jake Paulson led Air Force with 2.5 tackles for loss. Paulson leads the Falcons and is among the Mountain West Conference and national leaders on the season with 13.5 tackles for loss for a total of 67 yards.

With the win, the Falcons improve their season marks to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the Mountain West Conference. This victory marked Air Force's third straight win over Army and 11 out of the last 12.

Air Force is home next week against Colorado State at 4 p.m. MST Nov. 8 at Falcon Stadium.

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