College Football

Air Force downs Army, Takes Commander In Chief Trophy

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The Air Force Falcons defeated both Army and Navy to take home the 2022 Commander-in-Chiefs Trophy for the first time since 2016. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

An interception by safety Camby Goff with 19 seconds remaining in regulation clinched an Air Force Falcon 13-7 win over the Army Black Knights in the Lockheed Martin Commanders Classic at Globe Life Field in Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday. The win, in front of an announced crowd of 33,912, secured the Falcons their first Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy since 2016.

Both teams entered the game with solid ground games. The Falcons lead the nation in rushing with 336.8 yards per game, while the Black Knights were just behind them with 334.6 yards per game for second place nationally.

Neither team was able to get into a rhythm during their first two possessions. Air Force ran six plays on their first possession and three on their second, both resulting in punts. The Black Knights rushed ten times for 34 yards, punted their first possession and turned it over on downs during the second.

Air Force began their third possession on the Army 37 yard line with 3:25 left in the first quarter. Fullback Brad Roberts gained 21 yards on four consecutive carries, and tailback DeAndre Hughes was stuffed for a two-yard loss. The Falcons settled for a 35-yard field goal by Matthew Dapore with 19 seconds left in the quarter for the game’s first score. Falcons led 3-0 after the first quarter.

The Black Knights started their next possession at their own 25 yard line, but were immediately plagued by back-to-back false start penalties by left guard Jackson Filipowicz and tight end Joshua Lingenfelter, to push them back to the 15 yard line. Quarterback Jemel Jones rushed on the next three plays, only getting back to the original line of scrimmage. With 4th and 10 from their own 25, Army punted again.

Air Force started the next drive on their 35 yard line. Six of the next seven plays were rushes totaling 33 yards, but the drive stalled on an incomplete pass from quarterback Haaziq Daniels to Zac Larrier on 3rd and 7. Dapore attempted a 40-yard field goal but missed it wide to the right with 9:55 remaining in the half.

Army was able to finally get a sustained drive going. After a three-yard carry by running back Tyson Riley, Jones connected on a 24-yard pass to receiver Isaiah Alston bringing the Black Knights to the Falcon 41 yard line. On the next play, Jones connected with running back Ay’Jaun Marshall for another 31-yard pass to the Air Force 10 yard line. Jones rushed on the next three plays, the last being a three-yard touchdown run. After the extra point from Quinn Maretzki, Army took a 7-3 lead with 6:24 left in the half.

Army safety Marquel Broughton returns an interception off of Air Force quarterback Hazziq Daniels during Saturday’s Army-Air Force Commander’s Classic at Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The Falcons began their next drive at their own 25 and answered the Army score with a long sustained drive of their own. Roberts rushed for two yards, followed by a 12 yard run by Daniels. Then Daniels connected on a 16-yard pass to receiver David Cormier to the Army 45 yard line. However, three plays later Army safety Marquel Broughton intercepted Daniels at the Black Knights 28 yard line and returned it for 14 yards to the Army 42, with just 3:35 remaining in the half.

Jones completed a 10-yard pass to Alston on the first play of the possession but the drive stalled immediately after. Billy Boehlke hit a 42-yard punt with 1:18 left in the half to give the Falcons the ball back on their own three-yard line. Air Force came out conservative with three run plays, which netted them 13 yards, but no miscues meant they could run out the clock. Army lead 7-3 at the half.

Army picked up 125 total yards from scrimmage in the first half, ten more than the 115 put up by Air Force. The Falcons led in time of possession, 15:41 to the Black Knights 14:19 in the half.

On the first play of the third quarter, Army quarterback Jemel Jones was sacked by linebacker T.D. Blackmon for a five-yard loss. The Black Knights went three and out, punting on 4th and 14 from their own 20 yard line.

The Falcons then began wearing the Army defense down. Utilizing seven rushes and two pass plays, Air Force converted three first downs on the drive. Daniels passed to Cormier for a 27-yard gain and a first down at the Black Knights 19 yard line, but half of that yardage was given up when left tackle Everett Smalley was hit with a personal foul for moving the pile after the whistle blew.

After a three-yard carry by Roberts, Daniels then ran for 14 yards on the next play, which set up a 17-yard touchdown run by Daniels on the following play. The Dapore extra point gave the Falcons a 10-7 lead with 9:32 remaining in the third quarter.

Army quarterback Tyhier Tyler tried getting the momentum going with two rushes for nine yards, but this was negated when Jones came back into the game and was sacked by safety Trey Taylor for a 15-yard loss. Two plays later, 4th and 22 from their own 23, Boehlke kicked off a 44-yard punt to the Air Force 33 yard line.

Air Force receiver David Cormier recorded a career‐high four catches to go with 89 yards, the second‐best of his
career. Cormier hauled in a team‐long 30‐yard reception in Saturday’s Army-Air Force Commander’s Classic game. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The Falcons got the ball back with 5:54 remaining in the third quarter and ran this drive like their previous one. The rest of the quarter was the Roberts and Daniels show as both players combined for nine carries and 50 yards. The Falcons were on the Black Knights seven-yard line when the quarter ended.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Daniels rushed for six yards to set up a 1st and goal at the Army one-yard line. Then the unthinkable happened. Right tackle Adam Karas committed two consecutive false start infractions, which was followed up by two sacks by Black Knights linebacker Andre Carter II, to push the Falcons back to the Army 16. Air Force had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Dapore to extend their lead to 13-7 with 12:06 remaining in regulation.

The Air Force defense remained strong when the Black Knights took the field as the Falcons forced another three-and-out situation. This was Army’s third possession of the second half and the only one that gave them positive yardage, with a gain of one single yard. It was 4th and 9 when Boehlke punted 43 yards to the Falcon 31-yard line.

After a holding penalty by Karas, Daniels was able to find Cormier for a 30-yard strike to bring the ball to the Army 43-yard line. However, Army safety Marquel Broughton, who earlier intercepted a Daniels pass, was injured on the play. This stiffened the spine of the Black Knights who then kept the Falcons to short yardage on the next three plays forcing a punt.

Army was now battling two opponents, Air Force and the clock. The Black Knights drive started with 6:13 remaining in regulation on their 19-yard line. Jones and running back Tyson Riley were trying to get a rhythm going when their offensive linemen were called for consecutive false starts. Right tackle Shayne Buckingham, who was called for a false start earlier in the game, committed the first penalty, which was followed immediately after by tight end Joshua Lingenfelter’s penalty. This forced a 3rd and 15 from their own 14-yard line. Jones tried to connect with Marshall but the pass was broken up for an incompletion. Boehlke punted with 4:05 remaining in regulation.

Army Quarterback Jemel Jones looks for the open receiver during Saturday’s Army-Air Force Commander’s Classic game in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The Falcons now tried to run out the clock. Brad Roberts carried the ball on the next six plays for 15 yards and one first down. This forced Army to use all three of their timeouts. Carson Bay kicked a 31-yard punt to the Army 15, which was returned by Cameron Jones to the 24-yard line. Army now had 1:38 left to advance the ball 76 yards to tie with an extra point or pull ahead with a two-point conversion.

Army was able to pick up some yards on carries by Jones and Riley, but the Air Force defense covered the receivers so well that Jones was unable to find an open man and pick up large yardage. It was 4th and 2 from the Black Knights 44 when Camby Goff picked off a pass from Jones to ice the game for the Falcons. Air Force won the game 13-7.

Army’s offense was held to 145 yards on the day, and only 20 yards in the second half. Army’s 78 yards rushing was the fewest amount in a game dating back to 2007. The Black Knights were 4-for-14 on third downs throughout the day. Jemel Jones led Army on the ground with 21 rushing attempts for 37 yards and a touchdown. He went 4-for-14 in passing for 67 yards. Two of those were caught by receiver Isaiah Alston for 34 yards. Marquel Broughton and Quindrelin Hammonds led the Black Knights defensively with 10 tackles each.

The Falcons had 324 yards in total offense, 226 yards rushing and 98 yards passing. Brad Roberts rushed 33 times for 135 yards and Haaziq Daniels carried 14 times for 89 yards to lead the Falcon rushing attack. Michael Mack II and T.D. Blackmon each had 6 tackles to lead the Falcons.

This was the fifth straight game between these two teams that was decided by seven points or less. Neither team scored 21 points during those games.

With the victory over Army, Air Force now owns the right to claim the Commander-in-Chief Trophy, presented to the overall winner of the series played by the service academies. Last season the teams shared it, but this year, by virtue of the Air Force’s 13-10 win over Navy on Oct. 1, and today’s win over Army, Air Force holds the title outright. Army and Navy will face each other on Dec. 10 in Philadelphia. Air Force has won the trophy 21 times, Navy brought it home 16 times while Army had had it for 9 times. Army won it three of the last five years. Navy last won it in 2019 and Air Force hasn’t had the trophy since 2016. Last year’s tie was the first since 1993 and the fifth in the series history.

During the game, Army honored the 1st Cavalry Division by wearing the patches on their helmets. Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV, division commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Shade and the Horse Cavalry Detachment rode horseback to deliver the game day ball to the referees.

Six Army Medal of Honor recipients were honored at halftime. They are: Major General Patrick Brady (Vietnam); Specialist Fourth Class Michael Fitzmaurice (Vietnam); Staff Sergeant Salvatore “Sal” Guinta (Afghanistan); Command Sergeant Major Robert Patterson (Vietnam); Lieutenant Colonel William Swenson (Afghanistan); Sergeant Major Matthew Williams (Afghanistan).

The Black Knights fall to 3-5 and now play the 7-2 Troy Trojans at Troy, Alabama on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Air Force goes to 6-3 and hosts New Mexico (2-7), also at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

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