Gridiron Battle Between Navy and Air Force Set for Saturday in Annapolis
Sept. 26, 2011
Setting the Stage
Rivals Navy and Air Force will battle one another on Saturday at 12 noon at a sold-out Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000) in the first leg of the round-robin competition between the three Service Academies.
The winner of the round robin competition will take home the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy. If the three teams all finish 1-1, the team that won it last (Air Force) would retain the trophy. Air Force plays host to Army on Nov. 5, while the annual Army-Navy game presented by USAA will be played on Dec. 10 at FedExField in Landover, Md.
The presenting sponsors for the Air Force game are SAIC and USAA.
CBS will air the national broadcast on Saturday with Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Randy Cross (analysis) and Lewis Johnson (sideline) calling the action.
The Navy Football Tailgate Show on WNAV 1430 AM / 99.9 FM will air at 10:00 am with Pete Medhurst, Joe Miller and Wylie Baker live from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Navy Football Pregame Show with Bob Socci, Omar Nelson and Medhurst will get underway at 11:00 am, followed by game action at 12 noon on the Navy
Radio Network and Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 134).
Following the contest, Miller and Medurst will recap the day's events in a 60-minute postgame show live on WNAV 1430 AM / 99.9 FM and WFED 1050 AM.
Pregame festivities will get underway at approximately 9:45 am with the Navy Football Team Walk. Originating at the Blue Angel in the southwest corner of the stadium, the team will make its way down the sidewalk and through NavyFest before walking up the drive to the stadium. Fans are encouraged to line up on both sides of the sidewalk to cheer for the team.
The March-on of the Brigade of Midshipmen will take place at approximately 11:46 am.
The Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, will be at midfield for the honorary coin toss. He will be flipping the Reagan Centennial Coin, which is part of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration, a historic, year-long tribute to honor the 100th birthday of America's 40th President.
Four Boeing F/A-18 F Super Hornets from the "Fighting Checkmates" of Strike Fighter Squadron 211, NAS Oceana will handle the fly-by.
The Commander-In-Chief's Trophy
The Commander-In-Chief's Trophy is presented annually to the winner of the football competition among the three major service academies -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- and is named in honor of the President of the United States.
Navy has dominated of late, winning the trophy a Service Academy record seven-consecutive years from 2003-09 and winning a Service Academy record 15-straight games against Air Force and Army in the process. Air Force won the trophy last year.
Navy has won the trophy a total of 12 times: 1973, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1981, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
When there is no clear-cut winner, the trophy remains with the winner of the previous year's competition.
The three-sided trophy stands two-and-a-half-feet tall and is engraved with the academy seals. Reproductions of the three mascots -- the Army Mule, the Navy Goat and the Air Force Falcon -- are ensconced on the respective sides of this bauble. The trophy is sponsored by the West Point Association of Graduates, the Naval Academy Alumni Association and the Air Force Association of Graduates.
The year in which the trophy is won is engraved on AA plate gracing the respective academy's side of the trophy.
Service Academy Dominance
Navy has amassed a 72-34 (.679) overall record in the last nine years, while Air Force is 57-44 (.564) and Army is 28-72 (.280).
Scouting Air Force
The Falcons are 2-1 on the year, defeating South Dakota, 37-20, and Tennessee State, 63-24, and losing to TCU, 35-19.
The Falcons are the No. 1-ranked rushing offense in the country, averaging 411.7 yards per game. Air Force also ranks fifth in total offense (565.0), seventh in passing efficiency (178.0), 16th in scoring offense (39.7), 18th in sacks (3.00) and 24th in punt returns (12.5)
Running back Asher Clark leads the Air Force running game with 291 yards on 33 carries (8.8 yds/carry). Meanwhile, fullback Mike Dewitt has carried the ball 24 times for 154 yards and two scores.
Quarterback Tim Jefferson has completed 24 of his 37 passes for 357 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. His favorite target is Zack Kauth, who leads the Falcons with eight catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive back Jon Davis leads the defense with 22 tackles, an interception and a pass break-up, while linebacker Brady Amack has 20 tackles, a tackle for a loss and two forced fumbles.
Air Force is No. 1 in the country in kickoff return defense, giving up just 13.9 yards per return.
The Last Time ...
Air Force 14, Navy 6 Oct. 2, 2010 | Colorado Springs, Colo.
Air Force QB Tim Jefferson rushed for 62 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, while completing five of his seven passes for 83 yards as he led Air Force to a 14-6 victory over Navy at Falcon Stadium.
It was the first loss by Navy to another Service Academy since 2002 when the Mids lost at Air Force, while the 20-combined points marked the lowest combined score in the series since 1997 when Navy lost 10-7.
The Navy offense continued to struggle scoring points, settling for two Joe Buckley field goals. The Mids gained just 312 yards of total offense on the day, including a paltry 129 yards in the second half. It marked the first time that Navy didn't score a touchdown against another Service Academy since 1987 when the MIds lost to Army, 17-3.
Red zone offense was once again a struggle as the Mids made three trips into the red zone and came away with just the two field goals.
The key to the game might have been Navy's second series when, after Kevin Edwards caused a Jared Tew fumble and recovered it himself at the Navy 43-yard line, the Mids marched down the field and had the ball first and goal at the Air Force 3. Navy, however, could not punch it in as quarterback Ricky Dobbs was stopped for a loss of one on two-consecutive plays and then Vince Murray gained just one yard on third and goal from the five. To make matters worse, Buckley banged his 21-yard field goal off the left upright after the ball was partially tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Air Force would make that lost opportunity hurt even more when it moved 80 yards on three plays with Jefferson capping off the drive with his 50-yard TD run to take a 7-0 lead.
Navy would mount another nice drive at the start of the second quarter, moving from its own 14 down to the Air Force 12, but once again the red zone woes jumped up and bit the Mids. On first and 10, Murray gained one, on second down and nine Murray was held to no gain and on third and nine Dobbs rushed for three as the Mids settled for a 25-yard field goal by Buckley.
The Navy defense, which had been stout since Air Force's first two drives of the game, came up with a fumble recovery on the Falcons' first drive of the second half as Aaron McCauley fell on a bad pitch from Jefferson at the Air Force 36-yard line.
After picking up a first down, the Mids had the ball second and two from the Air Force 14 when Dobbs burst through the Falcon defense and picked up 13 yards to the Air Force one-yard line, but center Brady DeMell was called for holding. The Mids were forced to kick a field goal (7-6).
The score would remain that way until early in the fourth when Kyle Delahooke had his punt blocked by Jamil Cooks and it was recovered by Anthony Wooding at the Navy 15-yard line. Four plays later, Jefferson scored from the one and Air Force led 14-6 with 12:31 left in the contest.
|Recent Service Academy Games|
|12/11/10||Navy 31, Army 17|
|10/2/10||Air Force 14, Navy 6|
|12/12/09||Navy 17, Army 3|
|10/3/09||Navy 16, Air Force 13 (OT)|
|12/6/08||Navy 34, Army 0|
|10/4/08||Navy 33, Air Force 27|
|12/1/07||Navy 38, Army 3|
|9/29/07||Navy 31, Air Force 20|
|12/2/06||Navy 26, Army 14|
|10/7/06||Navy 24, Air Force 17|
|12/3/05||Navy 42, Army 23|
|10/8/05||Navy 27, Air Force 24|
|12/4/04||Navy 42, Army 13|
|9/30/04||Navy 24, Air Force 21|
|12/6/03||Navy 34, Army 6|
|10/4/03||Navy 28, Air Force 25|
|12/7/02||Navy 58, Army 12|
Navy has won three-straight against Air Force in Annapolis.
A win would give the Mids a 3-1 record for the first time since 2006. That squad went on to post a 9-4 record, win the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy and play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.
Head coach Ken Niumatalolo's 29 wins in three-plus seasons are the most by a Navy coach in his first-four years.
The Mids are fourth in the nation in rushing offfense, averaging 358.3 yards per game. Additionally, they are 13th in turnover margin (+1.0), 16th in pass defense (166.7) and 17th in pass efficiency defense (101.2).
The Navy defense has not allowed a touchdown pass in the first three games.
Navy has made eight trips inside the red zone in its first three games, scoring seven times (.875), including six touchdowns (.750).
Dating back to last year, Navy has scored on 42 of its last 45 drives in the red zone (.933), with 38 (.844) of those scores resulting in touchdowns.
The Navy defense has allowed seven red zone scores in 11 opportunities (.636), with six of the scores resulting in touchdowns (.545).
Junior slot back Gee Gee Greene is just 108 yards away from 1,000-career rushing yards.
Since 2003, Navy is 25-6 (.806) following a loss. The Mids are 11-2 (.846) under Niumatalolo following a loss.
Navy owns a 36-10 (.783) record at home since 2003, including a 14-3 (.824) mark under Niumatalolo.
Navy is 24-3 under Niumatalolo when scoring first (losses in 2008 against Wake Forest in the EagleBank Bowl, 2009 vs. Temple and last week at South Carolina). The Mids are 18-3 when leading after the first quarter, 19-3 when leading at the half and 24-1 (only loss at No. 10 South Carolina last week) when leading after three quarters.
Mids Receive Two Voting Points In AP Poll
Navy received two voting points in the latest Associated Press College Football Poll. The Mids did not receive any votes in the USA Today/Coaches Poll.
Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Times tabbed Navy 24th to account for the two points.
The last three years the Navy-Air Force game has been a defensive battle. Navy won in 2008, 33-27, thanks to two blocked punts for a touchdown, won in 2009, 16-13, in overtime and lost last year, 14-6.
Navy has managed just two offensive touchdowns against the Falcons over the last three years (1 in 2009 and 1 in 2008). The 2008 touchdown came after an Air Force fumble on its own 10-yard line.
Over the last three games agains the Falcons, the Mids are averaging 196 yards per game on the ground and 72.3 yards per game through the air (268.3 yds of total offense / gm).
Air Force has scored five offensive touchdowns (2 in 2010, 3 in 2008) against Navy in the last three years, with one of the 2010 TDs set up by a blocked punt.
Air Force is averaging 234.3 yards per game on the ground and 81.3 through the air over the last three games (315.6 yards per game of total offense).
Navy has two players that are natives of Colorado.
Junior defensive end Ryan Paulson and freshman linebacker David Thurston both hail from Broomfield.