It All Adds Up

A GRAND HERE, A GRAND THERE. Air Force fans are well aware that in the 2002 season QB Chance Harridge became the latest in a line of AFA QBs to run and pass for more than a thousand yards in the same season. Here's a game by game look at how Harridge amassed all that yardage. It will be interesting to see how the Falcons do over the course of his career when Harridge runs and/or passes for 100 or more yards in a game.

It may seem ironic to AFA football fans, but the Falcons actually have a slightly better record when Chance Harridge neither throws nor runs for 100 or more yards, than when he does. Oddly enough, that's an indication of the value Harridge brings to the AFA team. Opponents focus on trying to limit his effectiveness, thereby raising the productivity of other players on the Air Force team. Northwestern tried to contain Harridge and, presto, AFA HB Anthony Butler rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in his career, sprinted 56 yards for a TD and completed a 37 yard option pass to J. P. Waller. North Texas refused to let Harridge beat the Mean Green with his darting runs. Harridge simply shifted gears into passing mode, orchestrated a first half aerial blitz which netted the Falcons three TDs via the passing and dismissed the Sun Belt Conference champions in short order.

Against Wyoming Harridge did the same thing. While he was the falcons' leading ground gainer the focus of the brunt of the load was ably carried by the team's Halfbacks. If Chance doesn't beat an opponent with his own artistry he will get the ball into the hands of a player who will do just that. It's a hallmark of a leader, team player and winner.

1) Northwestern. AFA wins 52-3 at home. Harridge runs for 94 yards and passes for 47. He throws a TD pass to TE Adam Strecker.

2) New Mexico. AFA wins 38-31 in OT at home. Harridge gains 57 yards on the ground. Throws a TD pass on a tackle eligible play to Blane Neufeld while passing for 29 yards.

3) California. AFA wins 23-21 on the road. Chance runs for 124 yards and three TDs. Passes for 22 yards. AFA goes 1-0 when Harridge hits the 100 yard mark in either passing or running.

4) Utah. AFA wins 30-26 on the road. Harridge rushes for 75 yards and passes for 99. Hits Don Clark with a game winning TD pass in final minute of play.

5) Navy. AFA wins 48-7 at home. For the first time in his career Harridge goes over the 100 yard mark on the ground and through the air, rushing for 161 and 4 TDs while throwing for 107 yards. AFA rises to 2-0 when Harridge hits the 100 yard mark.

6) BYU. AFA wins 52-9 at home. Harridge burns the Cougars for 104 on the ground and 4 TDs. Throws for 77. The streak continues as the Falcons move to 3-0 when Harridge hits the century mark.

7) Notre Dame. AFA loses 21-14 at home. Harridge held in check all night. Runs for 31 yards and passes for just 57 more.

8) Wyoming. AFA loses 34-26 in Laramie. Harridge rushes for 91 yards and 1 TD. He passes for 169 more. The Falcons, now 3-1, drop one for the first time when Harridge runs and/or passes for in excess of 100 yards.

9) CSU. AFA loses 31-12. Chance runs for 115 yards and 1 TD against the Rams. Passes for a mere 29 yards and a TD to Strecker. Falcons drop to a 3-2 record when Harridge surpasses the 100 yard barrier on the ground and/or through the air.

10) Army. AFA wins 49-30 on the road. Harridge runs for 76 yards. He passes for 106 and another TD to Strecker. Air Force moves to 4-2 with Harridge hitting for more than 100 yards.

11) UNLV. AFA wins 49-32 on the road. For the first time in his career Harridge runs and passes for 100 yards on the road. He rushed for 114 and two scores while throwing for 102 and TDs to Strecker and J.P. Waller. Falcons now a strong 5-2 when Harridge tops one hundred yards on the ground and/or in the air.

12) San Diego State. AFA loses 38-34 at home. It doesn't always work as this game demonstrates. Harridge ran for 117 yards and 3 TDs while passing for 125 yards and a TD to Alec Messerall. AFA lost anyway. Air Force drops to 5-3 when Harridge tops the 100 level.

13) Virginia Tech. AFA loses 20-13 in the San Francisco Bowl. The alarming feature of this game was how poorly Harridge threw the ball. He connected on 4 of 19 attempts and threw two interceptions. He threw for 91 yards and ran for 70. If AFA fans are looking for a measuring stick of Harridge's importance to the team try this stat: this was the only game of the season in which he neither ran for a TD nor threw a TD pass. And the Falcons lost.

14) Wofford. AFA wins 49-0 at home. Harridge runs for 92 yards and passes for 61 in a season opening win. The Falcons' record is now 5-3 (.625) in games when Harridge passes and/or runs for 100 or more yards. Air Force is 4-2(.666) in games when Harridge reaches neither of these plateaus.

15) Northwestern. AFA wins 22-21 on the road. For the second time in his career when facing Northwestern, Harridge neither passed nor ran for 100 yards against the Wildcats, but the Falcons won the game. Harridge carried the ball seven times for 45 yards and completed two of seven passing attempts for 51 yards. Air Force is now 5-2(.714) when Harridge fails to throw and/or run for 100 or more yards. AFA is 5-3(.625) when he does. The Falcons are 10-5(.667) in games started by Chance Harridge.

For the second year in succession Harridge has helped the team fashion a 2-0 start to the season. Air Force returns to Falcon Stadium on Saturday, September 13 to face the North Texas Mean Green in a non-conference game.

16) North Texas. AFA wins 34-21 at home. Harridge was the focus of attention for the Mean Green's defense and was held to twenty yards on the ground. Harridge turned to the passing game completing 10 of 15 attempts for 156 yards and three, first half TD passes in directing the Falcons to a comfortable halftime lead and eventually, their third win of the season.

In 2002, Harridge ran for 275 yards in the first three games while passing for 98 yards--a combined total of 373 yards of offense. This season he's rushed for 157 yards while passing while passing for 268 yards--a combined total of 425 yards of offense. Air Force has won its first three games of the season each season.

17) Wyoming. Air Force wins 35-29 at home. Harridge has an impressive day as he runs for 117 yards on 15 carries for a 7.8 yards per attempt mark. He completes just enough passes to bring some balance to the Falcons' attack as he hits on 8 of 13 throws and 1TD pass to Alec Messerall, while suffering one interception. Air Force gains 79 yards through the air.

AFA is now 7-3(.700) when Harridge runs and/or passes for more than one hundred yards in a game. The Falcons are 5-2(.714) when Harridge does not reach 100 yards in either category. In games he's started Air Force has a solid 12-5(.706) record. Harridge's selflessness is apparent this year in that his individual accomplishments may pale in comparison to his achievements of 2002, but the most important goal of all--the team's success--hasn't been comprised in the least. Champions and championship teams find ways to win close contests and Harridge continues to lead his team to lofty heights.

Detractors will point to the fact that Harridge's TD production has slipped this year. In 2002 he'd run for 4 TDs after four games in comparison to just a single scoring run this fall. By this time last year he'd thrown 7 TD passes whereas this year he's hit on only 4 TD passes. The difference in Harridge's effectiveness is his total yardage. Last year he accounted for 547yards in the first four games on the schedule while this year he's amassed 621 yards--and that after an unfortunate early exit from the Northwestern game.

Harridge will get his yards and score a fistful of TDs yet this campaign. The team is winning and his diminished time in the spotlight has allowed other players--most notably the team's gifted HBs--to flourish.

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