Navy-Air Force, As It Happened
11:14 left, first quarter: In many ways, the game starts now. If Navy's defense can't stand up to Air Force's very effective option attack, this will be a long day.
9:42: Oh, no – a two-yard plunge turns into a home-run play for Air Force… WHICH TURNS INTO A GIFT FOR NAVY. Will this game be as wacky as the last game between these two teams in Colorado Springs? Navy needs to turn this Christmas present in to seven points.
8:41: Really good run-pass mix for Dobbs, courtesy of offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper. The up-tempo approach is a nice twist as well. The Navy coaching staff is treating this as a huge game… which it is.
5:23: Is the Maryland game going to repeat itself? Is it? That was ghastly stuff after a seemingly unstoppable drive rolled to the Air Force 3. Good heavens. Dobbs made the wrong read on the second-and-goal snap, which could gave scored with the fullback. Ouch.
4:50: Twice in the first 10 minutes and 10 seconds, Navy's been gashed for a big gain. If the offense is going to go haywire inside an opponent's 5-yard line once again, let's all pack up and go home and spare the headaches.
4:18: Speaking of headaches… and being gashed.
2:22: Red alert, red alert. Mayday, mayday. I know you're not supposed to give up the ship, and Navy won't, but the surprising dysfunctionality on offense this year simply can't continue, and frankly, in October, it shouldn't persist. Dobbs did not have an open receiver on that pick. Who is he – Jacory Harris? Getting outclassed by a better team is fine. Giving away points and turnovers is not.
End of the First Quarter Score: Air Force 7, Navy 0
12:59: One can't overemphasize the importance of that defensive stand by the Midshipmen. Insert cliché about "60 minutes" here, but that was certainly a hang-on-by-the-fingernails drive, with the Falcons on the verge of developing runaway momentum. Kinda surprised that AFA coach Troy Calhoun didn't go for it on a fourth-and-five from the 35. That's too far downfield to punt, isn't it? Shhhh… Navy won't complain – believe me.
10:50: Navy sorely needed to avoid a three-and-out, given the fact that Air Force's offense must be kept off the field as much as possible this afternoon.
10:40: Dobbs should have thrown his second pick, but Air Force dropped it. This is just not the same decision maker of previous years.
10:15: But then he throws a pretty ball like that, and it's easy to fall in love with Dobbs all over again.
7:58: Credit Air Force for taking away the fullback – Vince Murray – and forcing Navy into a third-and-long. Dobbs can't flourish under such circumstances.
7:16: More red-zone nightmares. Three points won't amount to much today. Ken Niumatalolo has to find answers to this persistently vexing problem.
5:06: Hmmm… Navy's not getting gashed anymore. We've certainly acquired a different feel and flavor in Colorado Springs. This is a one-score game on the merits; worries about an Air Force runaway have been sufficiently stifled, thanks to the accordingly airtight Navy defense on the past several snaps. I did not think this game would be 7-3 after 25 minutes of game time.
3:17: Air Force is still taking away the fullback and winning the battle at the point of attack. Navy's offensive line must elevate its game.
0:29: The Buddy (Green) System continues to excel after being rocked on its heels in the first 10 minutes. Every Navy fan alive would have taken a seven-point showing by the Air Force offense in the first half. Hard to believe that Dobbs and Co. haven't been able to give the Mids a halftime lead, given that reality.
Halftime Score: Air Force 7, Navy 3.
14:07 left, third quarter: A heaven-sent gift. Navy must cash it in. Games don't always get lost in the fourth quarter; they get lost on all the opportunities that get wasted in the first three quarters.
12:49: See, with the way Navy's offense is performing in the red zone, that pass can't just be completed. Dobbs needs to make that a ball Gee Gee Greene can take into the end zone. Will that play haunt Navy in a few minutes (and beyond)?
11:46: UN. BE. LEE. VUH. BULL. The holding flag from hell, just when Navy looked ready to score a touchdown.
10:58: Better to be down one than down four, but can Navy really win this game 9-7? 12-7? Not likely.
9:09: That play really illustrates the quality of Navy's defense after those first 10 shaky minutes. Perfect assignment football, creating an early pitch to a covered pitch man. Can't do it any better.
8:34: And then the Mids make a rare misstep, allowing a 19-yard pass on third-and-long.
5:46: Well, Navy doesn't have to ask for a replay review of the spot, which still comes up a few inches short. Nevertheless, Jared Tew's knee went down a half-beat before he made his final forward lunge. At any rate, MAMMOTH defensive stand by Navy.
5:46: HA! Air Force is trying to challenge what was a FAVORABLE ruling for the FALCONS! The Versus analyst is now trying to reverse his field, and lamely so. Nice try, folks. Sorry. Not gonna work. Navy ball.
4:08: Air Force's ability to take away the fullback has Navy's offense in retreat. The defense will have to produce another bold and gritty stand on the next Air Force possession, which is coming up shortly.
2:41: If you thought Air Force's tight end would become the key player of the second half for the Falcons, you are lying through your ever-loving teeth.
1:16: Okay, defense, might want to watch the AFA tight end here on another third-and-nine. Just a thought.
1:12: Well, when you bat down a pass, the tight end sure can't catch it. Navy's defense continues to be phenomenal (except for covering the tight end in a few select spots).
0:19: That pass – while eating up yardage – could get the Air Force defense off Vince Murray's nose and allow the Mids to establish the fullback, the cornerstone of the triple option. Very encouraging.
0:00: If you thought Navy would score six points in three quarters, raise your hand. If you thought Navy would score six points through three quarters and have a better-than-even-money chance at taking a fourth-quarter lead, you need to go to Las Vegas right now and save humanity with your cash winnings.
End of Third Quarter Score: Air Force 7, Navy 6
14:07 left, fourth quarter: That did not just happen. That did not just happen. What a supreme stomach punch, especially in light of the 2008 win in Colorado Springs, powered by…. blocked punts.
13:24: Air Force scores a touchdown, to the surprise of absolutely nobody. What a waste of a terrific defensive effort by the Mids. Dobbs and Co. have to ring up eight points in what is – let's remember – a one-possession game. Not over by any stretch, but now a big uphill climb in the final period.
11:39: Huge third-down conversion. That said, we need to see this team do something from an option look in order to put AFA's defense at a disadvantage.
9:58: Yeah, still can't do anything with the option. There needs to be a misdirection play or a reverse pass from an option look. Niumatalolo and Jasper have to find a gadget play from the triple option.
5:57: Can this offense finish? Not much else to be said.
3:51: After that sack-and-chop-block play, probably not. What's been in the drinking water this year for veteran offensive players?
1:09: One more shot. The defense has stood on its head to keep this a one-score game for the duration.
0:25: To think: Three field goals and the avoidance of a blocked punt would have won this game for Navy. It's a different kind of year for the Mids. Time to regroup.
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