For the first half, Army and Air Force slugged it out in a defensive, hard-hitting struggle and entered halftime 6-3 Air Force. Army had little success running the ball, but the defensive front was able to contain the high-powered Falcon offense. The line was pressuring Kale Pearson and was able to limit Jacobi Owens to only 55 yards rushing.
Air Force's first drive was ended by a Josh Jenkins interception that was returned to the Falcons 28, but the drive stalled and Daniel Grochkowski gave Army a 3-0 lead with a 42 yard fireld goal. Angel Santiago had the only other positive play in Air Force territory with a 32 yard run that led to a missed field goal.
The second half started off well for the Black Knights, until a breakdown in coverage led to a 54 yard catch-and-run from Pearson to Garrett Griffin, and Air Force turned their next possession into a Will Conant (just barely) 50 yard field goal to extend the lead to 13 points. It seemed that Army was able to shake off that play and came back with an impressive 14 play, 46 yard drive that ended with Grochkowski's second field goal.
And that was the last anyone saw of the Black Knights offense. The 4th quarter was dominated by Air Force as they had a drive of 6:26 and 4:45 with two small Army possessions in between. The defense struggled to contain Owens as he busted three plays over 15 yards to end the day with 118 rushing yards.
Air Force's formations rotated between wing back, spread looks, I-formations, and a variety of pistol formations to keep Army guessing. A few favorable penalties on Josh Jenkins and one superb catch by Jalen Robinette set Air Force up inside the 5 yard line where Pearson connected with Griffin again to score the final points of the game and Air Force's first Commander-In-Chief trophy since 2011.
Army's biggest issue offensively is getting into 3rd down and more than 5 yards to go. Army only converted one 3rd down all game, and it came in the final minute. Santiago only completed two of his 11 passes and A.J. Schurr completed his only pass on a 4th and 14 to Tony Giovannelli - who then fumbled the ball away. Giovannelli left the game on a cart and appeared to hit his head on the turf which caused his concussion, not the hit by DeCloud.
Player Of The Game: P Alex Tardieu
It's never a good sign offensively when you're punter has the best performance of the game, but Alex Tardieu has garnered national attention and is on the Ray Guy Award watch-list as the nation's top punter. Tardieu was crucial in what we call 'hidden yardage', or the average starting field position a team has for each drive. Tardieu had 6 punts for 226 yards with 0 return yards. If Army's offense can't move the ball, at least Coach Jeff Monken can trust this kid to give the Army defense a deeper starting position to defend.
Army will now shift their focus to fellow 2-6 foe Connecticut in a game that will ensure one team finishes the 2014-15 campaign with a losing record.