Navy defeats Air Force 31-20 for Fifth Consecutive Year
Sept. 29, 2007
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)-Playing before a record crowd and with Navy's four-year hold on the Commander-in-Chief's trophy on the line, quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada stepped up with two fourth-quarter touchdown runs, leading the Midshipmen to a 31-20 win over Air Force on Saturday.
Thanks to Kaheaku-Enhada's runs of 2 and 78 yards, Navy has a leg up in the quest for the trophy, which goes to the winner of the round-robin competition between Navy, Air Force and Army. The Midshipmen (3-2) have won 10 straight games over their fellow service academies.
"We said this was the first step in reaching the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy," said Kaheaku-Enhada, who ran for 101 yards.
Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney had a record day in defeat, gaining 300 total yards to become the program's all-time leader with 6,780 yards from scrimmage. Carney also threw for a career-best 237 yards.
Trailing 20-17 early in the fourth quarter, Navy drove 73 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Kaheaku-Enhada hit O.J. Washington for 53 yards to the Air Force 20. Eric Kettani converted a fourth down at the 11, and then Kaheaku-Enhada scored on fourth down from the 2, giving Navy the lead with 13:01 to play.
After an Air Force punt, Kaheaku-Enhada broke loose for 78 yards to put the Midshipmen up 31-20 with 9:18 left.
The runs turned the tide in a game that saw the teams trade the lead through the first three quarters.
"I am excited for our players. They did a tremendous job. They really hustled out there," Navy coach Paul Johnson said. "Playing for the trophy is really important to us; it's one of our goals."
A win over Army on Dec. 1 would give Navy the trophy.
The nation's top rushing team, Navy produced 302 rushing yards - and 381 yards total - with its triple-option attack.
The Falcons outgained the Midshipmen with 474 yards, but were held without a score three times inside Navy's 20-yard line.
Zerb Singleton rushed for 65 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown, and Kettani had 58 yards for Navy. Reggie Campbell scored Navy's first touchdown on a 37-yard run for a 7-3 lead, and Singleton's run put the Midshipmen ahead 14-10 at the half. Washington had career highs with four catches and 79 yards.
"In our offense, you never know who is going to get the ball," Kaheaku-Enhada said. "That's the triple option."
Joey Bullen's 29-yard field goal staked Navy to a 17-13 lead before Chad Hall's 5-yard run put Air Force ahead 20-17 late in the third.
Carney completed 18 of 23 passes and ran for 63 years. Hall had career highs with 8 catches for 108 yards, and he scored both Falcon touchdowns - both on the ground.
Jim Ollis had 73 yards rushing, but his fourth-quarter fumble allowed Navy to run some time off the clock and protect its 11-point lead.
The Falcons' Ryan Harrison hit field goals of 28 and 21 yards, but he also missed from 41 and 32. The latter miss was one of three missed opportunities deep in Navy territory. Ollis was dropped for a loss on fourth down at Navy's 4 in the second quarter, and the Falcons later had to punt after three penalties pushed them back from the Navy 15.
"We had some scoring opportunities that were absolutely left on the field," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said.
"When you get inside the 10 three or four times and come away with three points, it's frustrating. We felt we were in control of the game offensively the whole game. We really felt like we left 24 or 31 points out there."