Navy Tops Air Force 24-17
Oct. 7, 2006
Like all recent Navy-Air Force games, this one went down to the wire. Air Force, trailing 24-7 midway through the fourth quarter, pulled to within a touchdown with 3:06 left and recovered the onside kick.
However, the Midshipmen defense held as Rashawn King broke up a pass by Shaun Carney to Victor Thompson on a fourth-and-6.
Navy (5-1) takes its first step toward retaining the Commander-in-Chief Trophy, given annually to the best of the three service academies. Navy has won three straight.
Navy's senior class is one step away from becoming the first in school history to go 4-0 against both Air Force (2-2) and Army. All that stands in the way is a win over Army on Dec. 2.
Hampton bounced off Falcons tacklers all afternoon, rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns. His 1-yard touchdown dive in the second quarter marked the sixth straight game he's scored. It's the fifth-longest streak in the nation.
Ballard had 27 carries for 134 yards, all on fullback dives. For a change of pace, the Midshipmen gave the ball to Reggie Campbell, who had 58 yards.
The last three Navy-Air Force games have been decided by three points, but this one broke the pattern just a bit.
Navy all but put the game away in the third quarter with two time-consuming drives that resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Matt Harmon and a 2-yard touchdown run by Hampton. Navy had the ball for more than 13 minutes in the third quarter.
Air Force cut the lead to 24-17 in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard field goal by Zach Sasser and Carney's 5-yard touchdown pass to Travis Decker with 3:06 remaining.
The Midshipmen entered the game leading the nation in rushing with 357 yards per game. Air Force's defense was allowing just 65.7 yards. Navy won the battle along the front line, rushing for 317 yards.
Air Force struggled to get its ground game on track. The Falcons finished with 193 yards on the ground.
To loosen up Navy's run-stuffing defense, the Falcons turned to the air. Carney threw it a season-high 19 times for 119 yards. Carney had attempted only 22 passes entering Saturday's game.
Air Force's switch to an air attack caught Navy off guard in the second quarter. The Falcons threw four passes, completing two for 30 yards. Chad Hall capped off an 11-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7.
On the sideline, Air Force coaches jumped up and down, emphatically trying to call a timeout to review the play. Navy hurried to kick the extra point and officials didn't see the timeout request. Replays showed Carney's knee may have been down.
It was Caldwell's eighth forced fumble of the season.
Moments before Little's fumble return, Navy had the ball on the Falcons' 16-yard line, but Matt Hall fumbled the exchange and Kevin Quinn pounced on it. Navy also had a drive halted by Chris Thomas' first career interception.