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Shooting blanks: Air Force shut out by Army to end long streak

November 4, 2017 Updated: November 4, 2017 at 6:51 pm
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Air Force running back Timothy McVey, left, is tackled after a short gain by Army defensive back Rhyan England in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, at Air Force Academy, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

One streak that ended Saturday predated any current Air Force player’s time at the academy.

The other predated their time on Earth.

A 21-0 loss to Army snapped a four-game Falcons streak against the Black Knights that dated to 2012.

The bigger eye-opener was the shutout, the first suffered by Air Force since falling 13-0 to Mississippi in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, 1992 — a streak of 306 games that stood as the third-longest active FBS streak in the nation and fifth longest ever.

It was the first time the Falcons were shut out at home since Nov. 1, 1980, a 23-0 loss to Boston College.

Army Air Force Football
Army defensive back Gibby Gibson, left, collides with Air Force tight end Ryan Reffitt as he tries to pull in a pass in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, at Air Force Academy, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) 

“You don’t want that,” Falcons senior tailback Tim McVey said. “Absolutely. It sucks, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Air Force missed an early field goal. It overthrew an open look at a tight end that likely would have gone for a touchdown. Later, it committed a blocking penalty on a play that would have given it a first-and-goal at the 8.

The difference-making play never materialized and the streaks are gone because, as the running game has so frequently given to this program, on Saturday it taketh away.

“We got our butts kicked today,” Falcons quarterback Arion Worthman said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Army (7-2) outgained the Falcons 392-190, with all of the Black Knights’ offense coming on the ground. Senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw ran 23 times for 265 yards and a touchdown, often abandoning the familiar triple-option look to instead take snaps from the shotgun and run slow-developing zone-read plays up the middle.

The Falcons failed to reach 100 rushing yards. Their production was split between 95 yards on the ground and 95 through the air.

Army Air Force Football
Color guard cadets struggle to hang on to the flags as they march on to the gridiron as high winds strafe Falcon Stadium before Air Force hosts Army in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, at Air Force Academy, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) 

Army averaged 6.6 yards per rush and had seven carries for 15 or more yards. Air Force averaged 2.8, none for more than 13.

“We have to be able to run the football,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “We did not do that today. Did not do that. Really, I don’t know if you could find a drive at all where that really occurred.”

On its first drive, Air Force attempted a 47-yard field goal into a strong wind. Luke Strebel’s kick sailed wide to the right.

Army Air Force Football
Air Force defensive back Marquis Griffin, right, tackles Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw after a long run in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, at Air Force Academy, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) 

The Falcons trailed 7-0 after a quarter, 14-0 at halftime and missed the opportunity to get back into the game after the blocking penalty in the fourth quarter negated a first down and they failed to convert on fourth down in the red zone.

Army subsequently marched 84 yards in 14 plays to ice its first victory at Air Force since 2005 and notch its fourth win in the series since 1988.

“I think our guys felt confident about the game, that we were going to win the game,” Army coach Jeff Monken said. “And I felt like we had a good enough team to win the game if we executed, and we did.”

The loss knocks Air Force (4-5) into a position where it must win two of its final three games — vs. Wyoming, at Boise State, vs. Utah State — to assure bowl eligibility.

The win for Army sets up only the second winner-take-all matchup with Navy for the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy since 1996.

Anticipating this, Army’s large contingent among the 41,875 at Falcon Stadium began changing, “We want Navy,” with about two minutes remaining. Those Black Knights supporters were ready to look ahead, having run past their hosts and leaving the Falcons, and their streaks, in their wake.

UP NEXT

Army: Host Duke next weekend.

Air Force: Host Wyoming on Saturday.

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