Football: Falcons fall to Navy, 31-20

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • U. S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
The 40th meeting between the U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Naval Academy football teams saw the Midshipmen come from behind to win 31-20 Sept. 29 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.

Before a record crowd of 37,615, the Falcons lost for the fifth straight time to their service academy rival, and put Navy (3-2) a leg up on winning its fifth consecutive Commander-In-Chiefs Trophy, symbolic of interservice football supremacy. 

The Falcons now hold a record of 3-2, 2-1 in the Mountain West Conference, but maintain the all-time series lead over the Midshipmen 25-15.

With Navy nursing a 24-20 advantage in the see-saw affair early in the fourth quarter, the Falcons drove down to the Mids 9 yard line. On the next three plays, Air Force was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul for a late hit, 5 yards for a false start and 10 yards for holding. Now on Navy's 39-yard line, Air Force punted short to the Navy 20.

Two play later, Mids quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada raced 78 yards for a touchdown, his second of the quarter. The Kapolei, Hawaii, native scored from 2 yards out on fourth down early in the stanza to cap a nine-play, 73-yard drive which gave his team the lead for good.

"When you play games like this, you absolutely have to max out the poise and discipline. We didn't do that today," said Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun. "Responsibility-wise that starts with us as coaches and players, too. You will not win with a stretch (of penalties) like that."

Excluding the fourth quarter momentum swing, the Falcons played well enough to win.

Air Force out-gained Navy 474 yards to 381. The Falcons had perfect balance, gaining 237 yards on the ground and 237 yards through the air, including a game-high 108 yards on eight receptions by Chad Hall. 

The passing yardage was a career best for senior quarterback Shaun Carney, who completed 18-of-23 attempts. He also rushed for 63 yards on 15 carries. His 300 total yards made him Air Force's all-time total-yardage leader with 6,780 yards from scrimmage. 

The yardage, however, did not always translate into points. The Falcons were held scoreless three times inside Navy's 20-yard line.

"We left a lot of points on the field," Carney said. "We weren't very disciplined in the red zone. We executed the coaches game plan until we got deep in their territory and started playing silly. We let the game slip away."

The game started off with the Falcons scoring first on a 28-yard Ryan Harrison field goal for a 3-0 Air Force edge after one quarter. Running back Reggie Campbell answered for Navy with a 37-yard run early in the second quarter.

Hall's 16-yard touchdown run reclaimed the lead for the Falcons on their next possession, but Midshipman Zerb Singleton's 12-yard rushing TD put Navy on top at halftime 14-10.

Harrison and Navy's Joey Bullen traded short field goals to make it 17-13 Mids in the third quarter, before Hall capped an 11 play, 80-yard drive for Air Force with his second touchdown run. The 5-yard end-around play made it 20-17 Falcons after three quarters.

"We had some momentum," Hall said. "But to their credit, they came back and responded big time."

Navy entered the game as the nation's top rushing team, averaging 360 yards per game. The Mids ran for 302 yards against Air Force.

Despite their recent drought, the Falcons have won more CIC trophies, 16, than Navy and Army combined, 15. 

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