Football: Navy holds off Falcons

  • Published
Air Force came up short Oct. 4 in their quest to reclaim the Commander-in-Chief's trophy.
A Falcon Stadium near capacity crowd of 46,339 watched Navy capitalize on Air Force mistakes and turnovers to score 24 points en route to a 33-27 victory. 

Two blocked punts returned for touchdowns by Navy, five Air Force fumbles, two of which were recovered by Navy, and 10 penalties proved to be the Falcons' undoing. 

"We hurt ourselves big time," said Falcons Head Coach Troy Calhoun. "When you make that many mistakes you don't deserve to win." 

After spotting Navy 10 points on the first two series of the game, Air Force stormed back with 13 unanswered points. Navy kicked a field goal on the last play of the first half to knot the score at 13 at the break. 

Navy took the game's opening kick-off and marched down the field 62 yards in just over seven minutes before settling for a 35-yard field goal. They extended their lead to 10-0 when they blocked a Ryan Harrison punt on Air Force's first possession and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. 

Air Force took a 13-10 lead on the strength of two Harrison field goals and a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Shea Smith on a fourth and goal. 

The second half started much the same as the first with Navy taking advantage of Air Force mistakes. The Falcons bobbled the second half kick-off and only returned it to their 9-yard line. A bad center-quarterback exchange on Air Force's first play from scrimmage resulted in a fumble which Navy recovered at the Air Force 10-yard line. 

Three plays later Navy Quarterback Jarod Bryant took the ball in from four yards out to put Navy ahead 20-13. 

But as they did in the first half, Air Force answered right back with Smith hitting Kyle Halderman on a 19-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 20.
Navy kicked a field goal to take a 23-20 lead into the fourth quarter.
Another blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Navy and a Falcon fumble put the game out of reach as Navy extended their lead to 33-20 with 10 minutes left in the game. 

With Smith leaving the game early in the fourth quarter due to illness, Freshman quarterback Tim Jefferson received his first extensive playing time and led the Falcons to a touchdown with two and half minutes left, culminating with a two-yard touchdown run by Asher Clark. A Falcon on-side kick was recovered by Navy, who made one first down and ran out the clock. 

"This is tough. We had our chances on both sides of the ball," said Linebacker Ken Lamendola. "It just seems like we left a bunch of plays on the field today."
Smith had a productive game with 128 passing yards, connecting on eight of 12 passes. Todd Newell led the Falcons with 50 yards rushing on 15 carries, and Halderman had three catches for 62 yards. Lamendola led the defense with a career-high 14 tackles.
This was the 41st meeting between Air Force and Navy. Air Force now holds the overall series lead 25-16. The loss drops the Falcons to 3-2 on the year and 1-1 in Mountain West Conference play. The Falcons take the field next Oct. 11 at San Diego State. 

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