AFAFalcons Staff Writer
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. In AFA's game yesterday versus UNLV, Harridge continued to show his value to the team as he passed 63 yards, ran for 89 more and scored his team's only two offensive TDs on the afternoon. Neither figure is prolific but each shows his ability to lead AFA's attack whether on the ground or through the air.
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 helps 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.
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.
18) Brigham Young. Air Force wins 24-10 on the road. In helping to lead the team to a win in Provo, Harridge became the answer to a trivia question in the process. He will be remembered in Falcons' lore as the starting QB on Fisher DeBerry's first team to post a win in Provo against BYU. While the Cougars held Chance to 18 yards rushing Harridge again showed his improvement in the passing game as he connected on 11 of 20 attempts, including a 30 TD pass to J. P. Waller in the fourth quarter which provided the Falcons with the game's winning points. Harridge becomes the first Air Force quarterback to lead the team to consecutive wins over BYU in Falcons' football history.
19) Navy. Air Force loses 28-25 on the road. Harridge has his most prolific day of the season on the ground carrying the ball 21 times for 129 yards and 2 TDs. He passes for 87 yards and accounts for 216 yards in total offense on the day. Neither figure is enough to counteract the disappointment of a loss to the Midshipmen for the first time in seven years.
20) UNLV. Air Force wins 24-7 at home. Harridge scores two TDs on the ground, runs for 89 yards and passes for 63 yards. The Falcons post their sixth win on the year, boost their record to 3-0 in the MWC, remain in first place and begin to focus squarely upon their upcoming battle with instate rival CSU in a game which ultimately will help crown the MWC champion in 2003.
Harridge's 89 rushing yards place him in seventh place on the AFA career rushing list with 1,920. By gaining 80 more yards he will become only the sixth player in school history to reach the milestone. Of greater importance to him and his teammates is the critical victory the Falcons posted in downing the Rebels. Air Force quieted doubts about its ability to avoid a third straight season in which a midseason losing streak sought to disrupt the team's aspirations to claim a conference title.
Harridge has now led the team to wins in 14 of his 20 (.700) career starts. The team's record when he fails to throw and/or pass for 100 yards is a solid 7-4(.636) and an even more glittering 7-2(.777) when he does not. In a season in which he has become the first AFA QB to lead his team to consecutive wins against BYU, approached the exalted 2,000 yards gained rushing in a career barrier and placed the team in a position to capture its first conference title since 1998, Harridge has demonstrated why he will be remembered as being among the best to have quarterbacked the Falcons in their distinguished history.