WEST POINT, N.Y. Senior quarterback Trent Steelman rushed for 101 yards and threw for another 100 to help Army secure a 41-21 victory over Air Force, Saturday in front of more than 37,700 fans at Michie Stadium.
A stout Army defense limited Air Force to just one touchdown in the first three quarters and took the first step toward winning the Commander in Chiefs Trophy. The trophy, for service academy supremacy, will be decided with the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA on Dec. 8 in Philadelphia.
Steelman completed 4-of-6 passes for 100 yards and also rushed 29 times for 101 yards and two scores. Sophomore running back Larry Dixon picked up 89 yards on 18 carries, junior running back Raymond Maples battled for 73 yards on 20 touches and sophomore running back Trenton Turrentine collected 47 yards. Maples, Turrentine, wide receivers Chevaughn Lawrence and Patrick Laird each had a reception.
Sophomore linebacker Geoffrey Bacon led the Army defense with 13 tackles and an interception while senior bandit Nate Combs was credited with eight stops, two tackles for losses, an interception and a pass breakup.
Army blew open a 7-7 game by scoring 28 consecutive points stretching the second and third quarters and posted its first win over Air Force since 2005, a 27-24 victory in Colorado Springs, Colo. The last time Army beat Air Force at Michie Stadium was in 1996.
The Black Knights defense limited Air Force, the No. 2 rushing team in the nation prior to the game, to just 103 yards on 43 carries. Quarterback Connor Dietz completed 10-of-17 passes for 185 yards but was intercepted twice.
Army won the coin toss from Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and elected to receive. It took 13 plays to chew up 66 yards and take a 7-0 lead after eating up more than 6:30 off the clock. Maples had 14 yards on the first two plays of the game, Steelman collected 14 on a pair of runs and Turrentine broke off a 17-yard gain to keep the chains moving. Steelman capped the drive with a four-yard scoring run and kicker Dan Grochowskis extra point. Air Force tied the game on the ensuing possession with a 65-yard drive. The possession was aided by two Army penalties and concluded with a one-yard scoring run by Wes Cobb.
The Black Knights defense came up with a big stop early in the second quarter when sophomore lineman Richard Glover and Combs teamed to stuff Dietz on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. Air Force expressed an interest to challenge the spot but the power was out at the stadium and instant replay was unavailable. After the change of possession, Army went on top to stay, moving 96 yards in 11 plays after Grochowski kicked a 20-yard field goal.
Rookie defensive back Brandon Fusilier-Jeffires recorded his first career interception to help Army take a 17-7 lead. He returned the interception seven yards before Steelman bulled his way in from two yards deep late in the first half.
Air Force went three-and-out to open the second half and a 12-play drive netted 54 yards and a 27-7 Army lead. Maples picked up 11 yards on the first play and then later gathered eight yards. Dixon carried on the last two plays of the drive, including a six-yard scoring run.
The Army defense forced another Air Force punt and Maples made it a 35-7 Army advantage with a one-yard scoring run. Dixon opened the drive with three carries for 36 yards, Steelman picked up 15 on three rushes and Maples did the rest. Steelman ran in the two-point conversion.
Air Force, now 5-4, added a pair of scores in the final quarter. John Lee rushed for a four-yard touchdown and Dietz scampered for a 13-yard score after the Falcons recovered an on-side kick.
Combs closed the scoring when he recovered a bad snap in the end zone. Army, now 2-7, will travel to Rutgers Saturday, while Air Force travels to San Diego State.