The Air Force Falcons are doomed to spend another year without the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy — a trophy they last hoisted in 2016.
Once again, the Black Knights of Army dashed the Falcons’ hopes for glory. However, you’d never know it by looking at the box score. In fact, Air Force led in total yards, rushing yards, passing yards, first downs, and time of possession, but it was never enough.
The two teams battled to a scoreless first half that featured a missed Army field goal, an Air Force turnover on downs, and plenty of punts from both sides.
After halftime, the scoring looked primed to explode. Tyhier Tyler found paydirt on a 9-yard run to give Army the lead. Air Force responded with a 49-yard drive culminating in a Matthew Dapore field goal to keep the Falcons within striking distance.
Christian Anderson then led the Black Knights on a gut-wrenching two-play, 79-yard drive with a long touchdown pass to Tyrell Robinson. While the drive itself may not have deflated Air Force, Dane Kinamon’s interception certainly dampened things on the Falcons’ next possession. It was the only turnover on the day, but luckily the Air Force defense held Army to a turnover on downs in the ensuing drive.
Air Force finally responded with a score on its next possession, with Haaziq Daniels finding Dane Kinamon for a short touchdown pass. DeAndre Hughes punched in the two-point conversion, and the Falcons found themselves down just three points.
A turnover on downs for Air Force with 6:48 remaining appeared to spell certain doom, but the Falcons forced a punt and marched 70 yards in 4:40 to set Matthew Dapore up for a 30-yard attempt. He sailed his kick through the uprights and the teams headed to overtime.
Army took the first crack at scoring from 25 yards out, as the Black Knights worked their way to Air Force’s 6-yard line. Christian Anderson fumbled the ball at the goal line, but Jordyn Law recovered it and scored for the black knights. The Falcons found themselves unable to formulate a response and Army left Arlington, Texas with the 21-14 victory.
Falcons aren’t built for holes
For the second week in a row, we’ve seen Air Force not quite recover from an early hole. Yes, this time “early” meant the third quarter, but the Falcons never bounced back from being down 14-3. Even though they forced overtime, the offense didn’t have a proper answer once it got there.
It was encouraging to see Haaziq Daniels throw the ball a bit more against an Army defense expecting the run, but the decision left Air Force with quite a few short possessions. Unfortunately, short possessions aren’t a good thing when Army’s goal is to chew the clock.
More than a box score
As I mentioned at the very start, Air Force dominated the stat sheet today. Three Falcons (Roberts, Daniels, and Fattah) rushed for more yards than the leading Black Knight. Army’s Tyrell Robinson was the leading receiver on the day, but Air Force connected on 13 total passes to Army’s 8.
It just goes to show that it doesn’t always matter how effective your offense can be or how many tackles your defense records. After all, Air Force did hold the country’s number two rushing attack to just 14 points a week after Army hung 56 on Wake Forest.
Stop playing in baseball stadiums
This one doesn’t need much explanation. Were there really no available football stadiums for these two teams to meet in? Playing football in a baseball stadium is nonsense. Football stadiums keep all of the fans relatively close to the action, but Globe Life Field forced a huge section of spectators to sit on the other side of a large, gray tarp.
For example, AT&T Stadium — also in Arlington, Texas — sat empty ahead of the Cowboys’ showdown with the Broncos. The Cotton Bowl was also empty on Saturday. Houston’s NRG Park hosted Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival, but there are plenty of other stadiums in Texas — and in the country — that could have hosted this showdown.
Air Force should have a chance to return to winning ways against Colorado State next week. The Golden Rams are just 3-6 with wins over Toledo, San Jose State, and New Mexico. The two teams will face off at Canvas Stadium on November 13.