Coming into the game, the Air Force Falcons had just one win to their name, an early season thrashing of the Virginia Military Institute. Following their season-opening win, they fell at the hands of more traditional football programs in Michigan, San Diego State, and New Mexico, bringing their record to 1-3 entering the sixth week of the college football season.
The Navy Midshipmen hadn’t taken on the caliber of opponents that Air Force has, but they’d also won every contest they’d taken part in, coming into Saturday 4-0 with wins over Florida Atlantic, Tulane, Cincinnati, and Tulsa. On Saturday, in front of a record crowd in Annapolis, the home team triumphed in a match-up of two surprisingly well-matched military academies.
Navy struck first on the back of their star running back Malcolm Perry’s thundering 91-yard touchdown run halfway through the first quarter. Big plays were a theme of the game, however, and Air Force punched back minutes later with a 59-yard touchdown pass from Arion Worthman to a wide-open Marcus Bennett.
The Midshipmen controlled much of the first half of the game, swelling their lead to 21 on a couple of occasions after turnovers from the Air Force and dynamic plays from quarterback Arion Worthman and A-back Zach Abey. But the Falcons never went away, countering whenever it seemed like Navy was about to bust the game open. Both teams unleashed their arsenal of trick plays and Swiss Army Knife players, with halfbacks throwing passes and quarterbacks catching them on multiple instances.
Air Force’s calculated rebuttals to Navy wore the score down point by point. With 4:16 left in the fourth quarter, a fullback plunge into the end zone brought Air Force to 38 points, trailing Navy by just three. After getting a clutch defensive stop, Air Force’s wide receiver Marcus Bennett secured his second 50+ yard scoring play of the game, splitting the Navy secondary on his way to giving the Air Force their first lead of the game, 45 to 41 with 1:53 left in the game.
The Navy offense remained as cool as ever, with Quarterback Tyler Carmona running a nearly perfect two-minute drill that culminated in a go-ahead touchdown pass to Zach Abey with 15 seconds left on the clock, closing out a wild, tightly-contest battle between the academies.
Navy now takes their undefeated record into Memphis to combat a Tigers football team that is 4-1 and just hung 70 points on the University of Connecticut.
Air Force tries to turn their season around against a vulnerable UNLV team that’s just 2-3 on the year.
You can read the box score of the game in full here.
Oct. 14: Eastern Michigan at Army (noon, CBS Sports Network); UNLV at Air Force (2 p.m., AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain); Navy at Memphis (time/TV TBA).
Oct. 20 (Friday): Air Force at Nevada (9:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
Oct. 21: Temple at Army (noon, CBS Sports Network); Central Florida at Navy (3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
Week 9 (Off: Army, Navy)
Oct. 28: Air Force at Colorado State (3 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
Nov. 2 (Thursday): Navy at Temple (8 p.m., ESPN).
Nov. 4: Army at Air Force (3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
Nov. 11: Duke at Army (noon, CBS Sports Network); Southern Methodist at Navy (3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network); Wyoming at Air Force (time/TV TBA).
Nov. 18: Navy at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m., NBC); Army at North Texas (6:30 p.m., beIN Sports); Air Force at Boise State (time/TV TBA).
Week 13 (Off: Army)
Nov. 24 (Friday): Navy at Houston (time TBA, ESPN network TBA).
Nov. 25: Utah State at Air Force (time/TV TBA).
Week 14 (Off: Army)
Dec. 2: American Athletic Conference championship game (Navy if eligible, time TBA, ESPN network TBA); Mountain West Conference championship game (Air Force if eligible, time/TV TBA).
Week 15 (Off: Air Force)
Dec. 9: Army vs. Navy at Philadelphia (3 p.m., CBS)