Any time two Service Academies meet, you’re in for a special day. However, football wasn’t always the focus on this 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The afternoon featured plenty of tributes to the men and women we lost on that day in 2001.
Once you turn your attention to the football field, it was all Air Force, all day long. I won’t dig into the full recap here, but the important part is that one team found the end-zone on offense, and the other team only found it on an errant snap over the punter’s head. As the clock struck zeroes, only the Falcons could celebrate with the honor to sing second.
Here are just a few of the key takeaways from Saturday’s action in Annapolis:
Yards came at a premium
Anyone who has watched a tilt between these two teams can tell you that possessions come at a premium. That turned out not to be the case Saturday, as there were plenty of chances for both teams to handle the football. Air Force and Navy combined for fourteen possessions in the first half alone, with 10 of those drives ending in punts.
Just one of those drives stretched to nine plays, and it ended in an Air Force touchdown. Navy’s longest possession lasted 10 plays, but the Midshipmen could only muster a turnover on downs.
Despite plenty of cracks at the ball, neither team managed to tally 300 total yards — a feat that both of these squads managed on the ground last week. In fact, we didn’t see 300 yards of total offense COMBINED in this one. The Falcons rumbled their way to 225 total yards, with the Midshipmen adding just 68 more to that line. Only 36 of Navy’s yards came on the ground, which is a shocking number for a triple-option team.
Haaziq hits 100
Just one player on either side reached the 100-yard mark today — none other than Haaziq Daniels, Air Force quarterback. However, it took his combined arms and legs to get there, with 49 yards through the air and another 51 on the ground. Air Force has a good one under center, and he brought just enough of a balanced offense to Annapolis to keep Navy on their toes.
Brad Roberts didn’t quite reach the century line, but he came awfully close with 97 yards. Roberts punched in two touchdowns on top of one from Haaziq Daniels to give Air Force its final 23-3 margin of victory.
Punts a plenty
We’ve made plenty out of the fact that defense ruled the day today, and it gave both teams plenty of time to practice punting. Charles Bein had a solid day for the Falcons, booting it seven times for 250 yards and landing two punts inside the 20.
On the other hand, Navy split its eight punts between two players for a total of 302 yards. The Mids couldn’t pin the Falcons deep at any point, winding up without a single punt for a touchback or deeper than the 20.
Hopefully, this is the most practice that Bein will need all season.
Always bet service academy unders
If you’ve ever listened to CBS’s Cover 3 Podcast, you already know what’s coming. Few things get Tom Fornelli more fired up than taking a Service Academy under. In fact, you can hear his dulcet tones praising the fact that those under bets are 33-9-1 since 2005. Granted, that soundbite is a little old at this point because those reliable unders are now 38-9-1.
That’s right, it hit again. Saturday’s under sank as low as 39.5 at some books, which didn’t have anyone sweating. The two teams combined for just 26 total points, nearly two touchdowns below the threshold. Even if you’re not big on betting college football, there are just a few tried and true methods that always seem to hit.
Air Force heads home to Colorado Springs next weekend to take on Utah State. Both teams will enter the matchup 2-0, but the Falcons smoked the Aggies last season to the tune of 35-7 in Logan.