History repeats itself in loss at Navy
The games were much different, but the end of the past two trips to Navy felt awfully familiar for Air Force.
Just like in a 48-45 loss in 2017, Air Force spent much of the game playing from behind. In both cases it faced a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit. And in both games it moved into the lead in the final minutes.
In 2017, Navy took possession with 1:53 remaining, converted a fourth down and scored the winning touchdown. This time there was 3:15 left when the Midshipmen took possession, converted a fourth down and scored the winning touchdown.
“Just keeping the mindset that we’re going to win the game,” Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry said. “Never let it leave our minds.”
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun didn’t know how much carryover that previous trip would have had, since his roster has largely changed over since then.
“I wasn’t thinking about that when it was happening,” said Air Force receiver Ben Waters, who made the trip two years ago as a sophomore. “But looking back on it, it’s similar. It sucks. It’s not what you want.”
Offensive tackle makes rare tackle
Air Force junior left tackle Parker Ferguson hadn’t played defense or touched the ball in a game since high school, but he got to do both on the same play Saturday.
Falcons tailback Kade Remsberg fumbled in the first quarter, with Navy’s Jackson Pittman recovering. Ferguson was chasing down the play and went for Pittman.
“It felt like a natural thing and I just kind of instinctively tried to rip at the ball,” Ferguson said. “I hear the defense every day, coaches telling them to rip out the ball. So I thought I’d give it a shot, see what happens.”
The ball came loose and Ferguson recovered on the bottom of the pile, ending a sequence that saw four turnovers in six plays and setting up an Air Force field goal.
“I was at the bottom of the scrum just thinking hold onto this thing with all I’ve got,” he said.
Perry puts up prolific performance
Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry finished the game with 111 rushing yards with two touchdowns along with 5-of-7 passing for 144 yards.
This came after he was injured and missed time the previous week against Memphis.
“That’s a tough kid,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “He didn’t really practice much this week. Just a tough kid. He refuses to lose. We were going to ride him at the end.”
Added center Ford Higgins, “We all know his character inside of the locker room. What’s great about it is that also shows what type of person he is on the field. He encourages us to follow suit. When he comes in confident in the huddle it is contagious to all of us. That’s exactly what happened.”
Navy took possession on its 25-yard line with 3:15 remaining in the game after Air Force had scored to go ahead 25-21. After an 18-yard gain on a reverse pass, the Midshipmen committed a holding penalty on the next play to face a first-and-20 situation. An incomplete pass followed. Then came a 32-yard completion from Malcolm Perry to CJ Williams that rescued the Midshipmen from their hole and led to the winning touchdown.