Until a late two point conversion by Tulane gave the Green Wave the victory over Navy and bowl eligibility, it looked like we might have a perfect service academy football record over Thanksgiving weekend.
This was the second time this season that the Mids lost on a decision to go for two to win the game. The first time was against SMU in overtime. This time it was the Green Wave who pulled off the rollout and throwback to secure a bowl big for the first time in five years.
On Thanksgiving Day we were treated to quite the service academy appetizer for the weekend as Air Force sent its seniors off in style with a 27-19 victory over the Colorado State Rams to keep the Ram-Falcon Trophy in Colorado Springs for another year. We will get into how they pulled off the victory in a minute, because a certain fullback stole the show, and made offensive MVP a moot point before Navy even kicked off in New Orleans yesterday.
The win gave the Falcons a 5-7 record on the season and clinging to extremely slim bowl hopes as the top APR school with five wins, but those hopes would be extinguished Saturday as there are now officially more bowl eligible teams than slots.
Navy’s 29-28 loss to Tulane dropped them to 3-9 on the season with the biggest game of the year still left to be played in two weeks when they head to Philly for Army-Navy. They will be looking to avoid their first ten loss season since Paul Johnson’s first season back in 2002.
Let’s get to the weekly awards:
Offensive MVP: Cole Fagan, FB, Air Force
Like I mentioned above, Fagan stole the show on Thursday, and he paved the way for Air Force’s victory over CSU as the Rams could not find a way to stop the fullback dive. Fagan would take advantage to the tune of 260 yards rushing on 34 carries with a touchdown. All game long he was gashing Colorado State for 8 or 9 yards a pop, finishing the game with a 7.6 yards per carry average.
His 260 yards rushing was the most ever by an Air Force fullback in a game and the third most in school history regardless of position.
Needless to say, he earned his turkey and stuffing after the game. When combined with the speed of Kadin Remsberg, the allusiveness of Joseph Saucier, and the skills of Donald Hammond III, the Air Force backfield is poised to be prolific next season and should pave the way for a return to bowl games, a winning record, and competing for a Mountain West title!
Defensive MVP: Sean Williams, DB, Navy
There is a chance if Jeremey Fejedelem was available for the whole game for Air Force he would have given Williams a run for his money for defensive MVP this week. He still find his way onto the stat sheet with a crucial interception in the third quarter, and was joined by Demonte Meeks and others in an impressive defensive performance by the Falcons. Navy also got a solid outing from Taylor Heflin, but it was Williams who continued to impact the game again and again and the senior defensive captain is our choice for this week’s MVP.
He made a terrific play to breakup a pass on a third and eight on the first drive of the day for Tulane, forcing a Green Wave punt.
Down 21-3 at halftime and following a punt by the offense on the first drive of the third quarter, Williams got a huge interception and return that gave Navy the ball at the Tulane seven yard line. Though they only got a field goal out of the turnover, it was the turning point for what would end up being 25 unanswered points that put Navy ahead 28-21 late in the fourth.
Williams would finish with six tackles to go along with the one pass defended and the interception!
Special Teams MVP: Jake Koehnke, K/P, Air Force
Bennett Moehring matched his career long with a 48 yard field goal for Navy, but he also missed a chip shot 26 yarder earlier in the game. Owen White continued to have an impressive punting season with five punts that averaged 51 yards a kick. Jake Koehnke also missed a field goal, but his was a 54 yard attempt as the second quarter expired. The difference maker is that Koehnke continued to handle both placekicking and punting duties for Air Force and performed well in both facets of the game. His miss can be forgiven as a 54 yarder that was likely outside of his range, but he converted on his other two attempts and knocked through each extra point to account for 9 points for the team. And he averaged 48.5 yards a punt.
The Falcons are done for the season, but we still have Army-Navy coming up in two weeks and you can bet there will be some serious big time performances in all three phases as we do our final CIC MVP of the season before naming our overall MVPs across service academy football this year!