Keenan Reynolds ran for 126 yards and three touchdowns, and Navy used a strong second half to beat Air Force28-10 Saturday in a game that survived the restrictions of the U.S. government shutdown.
Although the Department of Defense has suspended athletic competition at the nation’s service academies because of the shutdown, an exception was made for this event because it was funded by non-appropriated money.
On a magnificent fall afternoon, a record crowd of 38,225 filled Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for this pivotal matchup. The previous 16 winners of this game have gone on to win the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, awarded annually to the service academy with the best record in games involving Air Force, Navy and Army.
Navy (3-1) has won the trophy twice in a row, and now the Midshipmen are poised to do it again after outscoring Air Force 21-0 after halftime.
Reynolds returned from a concussion to successfully run the triple-option in addition to going 6 for 10 for 54 yards through the air.
Air Force (1-5) has lost five straight. The Falcons led at halftime and got a solid performance from a defense that had allowed an average of 48.75 points in its previous four games, but the offense was limited to a season-low in points.
After amassing 202 yards in offense in the first half, Air Force got only 111 over the final 30 minutes.
Navy opened the second half with a 75-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard touchdown run by Demond Brown for a 14-10 lead.
A series of punts followed until Air Force fullback Broam Hart was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-2 from the Navy 34 on the second play of the fourth quarter.
Reynolds then directed a 66-yard march in which he twice converted third downs, once on a 17-yard run and the other with a 12-yard completion. On the 11th play of the drive, he ran in from the 2.
Air Force’s next three possessions ended in turnovers. After the second one, an interception by Chris Johnson, Reynolds ran in from the 10 with 4:37 remaining.
The Falcons led 10-7 at halftime after running 43 plays compared to only 23 for Navy and holding the ball for nearly 21 of 30 minutes.
Air Force dominated in the early going, opening with a 13-play march that produced a field goal. The Falcons’ second possession carried from their own 13 to Navy’s 32 before Will Conant came up short on a 50-yard field goal try.
After being limited to a total of 33 yards on their first two drives, the Midshipmen finally got their offense working. Reynolds coordinated a six-play, 71-yard drive that ended with the quarterback running in from the 3 to make it 7-3.
Air Force answered with a 79-yard drive capped by an 18-yard run by Anthony LaCoste.