Air Force secures 1st Commander-in-Chief’s trophy since 2016

Commanders' Classic - Army v Air Force
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Brad Roberts carried it 33 times for 135 yards, Camby Goff intercepted a pass with 19 second left and Air Force edged Army 13-7 on Saturday at Globe Life Field for it first Commander-in-Chief’s trophy since 2016.

Air Force was stopped for a loss on a third-and-3 run near midfield with 1:46 left, giving Army a chance at a game-winning touchdown drive. The Black Knights converted one fourth down on the drive, but threw an interception on fourth-and-2 as Goff cut in front of Ay’Jaun Marshall along the Army sideline for his third pick of the season.

The Falcons clinched a record 21st trophy – awarded to the academy with the best record in the round-robin competition.

“It’s a good place for it to be,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said about the trophy coming back to Colorado Springs. “Now you have to earn it, it’s not easy to do.”

Haaziq Daniels was 6-of-13 passing for 98 yards with an interception and he carried it 14 times for 89 yards and a touchdown for Air Force (6-3), which also beat Navy 13-10 on Oct. 1.

Daniels’ 17-yard touchdown early in the third quarter gave Air Force a 10-7 lead and Matthew Dapore made his second short field goal to cap the scoring with 12:06 left in the fourth.

Jemel Jones passed for 67 yards and rushed for 37 and a touchdown for Army (3-5).

Air Force uses rare passing game to win First Responder Bowl

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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DALLAS – Air Force changed its strategy Tuesday for the First Responder Bowl, taking inspiration from its name and trying out its passing game. It worked.

Haaziq Daniels threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more to give Air Force a 31-28 win over Louisville.

Daniels completed 9 of 10 passes for a season-high 252 yards, leading a triple-option offense that came into the game averaging an FBS-best 340.8 rushing yards and the second-fewest passing yards at 82.5 per game.

The Falcons (10-3) didn’t throw a pass in their final game of the regular season, a 48-14 win over UNLV, and took a streak of 94 straight rushes from scrimmage into their second possession Tuesday.

“I figured we’d (pass) more then we did in the last game,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun joked. “I just think sometimes you get in games, you make adjustments.”

Louisville coach Scott Satterfield lamented his shorthanded secondary getting beat on man-to-man coverage. The Cardinals (6-7) were missing defensive back Kenderick Duncan (injured) and Greedy Vance, who is transferring to Florida State.

“Anytime you play a team like this, they’re going to take a shot,” Satterfield said. “They connect – they’re going to come back to it again.”

Senior Brandon Lewis had touchdown catches of 64 and 61 yards for the Falcons, finishing with five receptions for a career-high 172 yards. That’s the most receiving yardage for an Air Force player this season and the most ever in the Falcons’ 28 bowl games.

“I feel like I could have been doing this all season,” Lewis said. “I’m just happy that I did do it in my final game.”

Matthew Dapore kicked a 26-yard field goal with 5:28 left to give the Falcons a two-score lead.

Louisville’s Malik Cunningham threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Harrell and ran for a 22-yard touchdown with 2:57 to play. Jawhar Jordan returned a kickoff 100 yards and Trevion Cooley had a 1-yard run for the Cardinals’ other touchdowns.

Cooley, a freshman, had 92 yards rushing for Louisville. Redshirt freshman Jalen Mitchell, who led the Cardinals during the season with 722 rushing yards, was out with an illness.

Louisville’s James Turner had a 44-yard field-goal attempt sail left in the first quarter, and the Cardinals were stopped on fourth-and-goal at the Falcons’ 2-yard line early in the third quarter when Cooley was tackled by Camby Goff and Trey Taylor.

“We ran the play probably three of four times, which, it worked every single time up until that point,” Cooley said. “It was my job to really punch it in.”

Daniels ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give Air Force a 7-0 lead and a 1-yard score in the final minute of the second quarter to put the Falcons ahead 28-14.

THE TAKEAWAY

Air Force: The No. 6 overtime loss to Army prevented the Falcons from winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 2016 instead of settling for a three-way tie. They recorded double-digit wins for the fourth time in Calhoun’s 15 seasons.

Louisville: The Cardinals had their second straight losing record. Tuesday’s loss was the fourth by one score. “If that one play is made (in those games), it’s a totally different season,” senior linebacker C.J. Avery said.

POWER SHORTAGE

With Air Force beating Louisville and Houston defeating Auburn earlier Tuesday in the Birmingham Bowl, Power Five programs are 0-5 in bowls against teams from the Group of Five or independents.

MILESTONES

Cunningham (13 of 21 passing for 207 yards, 12 carries for 63 yards) became the second Louisville quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season (1,031), and the 100 touchdowns he’s responsible for are second to Lamar Jackson’s 119. Cunningham will return for his fifth season in 2022. . Air Force senior fullback Brad Roberts had 20 carries, giving him a school-record 314 career rushes.

UP NEXT

Air Force: The Falcons will begin the 2022 season on Sept. 3 against Northern Iowa at home and then host Colorado to Colorado Springs the following week.

Louisville: The Cardinals will open at UCF on Sept. 10 and face South Florida before jumping into ACC play.

Air Force-Navy moving to 9/11 next year

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Next year’s game between service-academy rivals Air Force and Navy has been moved to Sept. 11 in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the academies announced.

The game was originally scheduled for Oct. 2.

“We will use this nationally televised opportunity to reflect on the meaning of our freedom and the competitive spirit of our nation,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a statement. “Two service academies coming together to display our strength of unity and our determination to forever persevere.”

Air Force athletic director Nathan Pine called it “an appropriate move for our country.”

“The game will be a fitting way to showcase the amazing future leaders of character from both academies on national television on this solemn anniversary,” Pine said.

It will mark just the third time the two schools have played in September and the earliest they have ever met. They normally meet the first Saturday in October.