Air Force 43, Army 7

Friday, November 3rd 2006, 10:23 pm
By: News On 6

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) -- Army gave and gave and gave, and Air Force capitalized again and again and again.

Adam Zanotti returned a fumble 98 yards and Air Force took advantage of an amazing array of mistakes by Army, scoring a school-record 36 points in the second quarter and embarrassing the Black Knights 43-7 on Friday night at Michie Stadium.

It was the fourth straight loss for Army (3-7), which a year ago halted an eight-game losing streak to the Falcons (4-4) by winning at Falcon Stadium for the first time since 1977. This one proved no contest when Army committed turnovers on four consecutive plays from scrimmage in the first half, giving the game away and any chance at the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

The coveted hardware, given annually to the winner of the football competition between the three major service academies, will remain in Navy's possession even if the Middies lose to Army next month. Navy, which has won the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy outright the past three years, beat Air Force 24-17 earlier this season and will retain possession.

Army entered the game leading the nation with 26 giveaways and upped the total to 31 before the first half was over, losing two fumbles and suffering three interceptions. And the Falcons converted the mistakes into 34 points.

The game started well for the Black Knights. They forced Air Force into a three-and-out on the game's first possession and took over at the Falcons 46 after punter Zach Sasser shanked his kick out of bounds for only 20 yards.

Army was poised to score after Wesley McMahand's 6-yard run to the Air Force 1. But freshman quarterback Carson Williams, making just his second start, fumbled the next snap and Zanotti scooped it up and returned it the length of the field for a touchdown to give the Falcons a stunning 7-0 lead at 9:02.

The Army defense again stopped the Falcons powerful option attack and forced a punt after only four plays the next time they got the ball. But on Army's first play from scrimmage, linebacker Drew Fowler forced and recovered a fumble by McMahand at the Army 47 and the Falcons scored again on a 19-yard run by Chad Hall, who finished with 93 yards rushing.

Damion Hunter mishandled the ensuing kickoff just inside his goal line to pin Army at its own 10. Garrett Rybak then intercepted Williams' pass along the left sideline on a third-and-9 play and returned it 25 yards to set up Ryan Williams' 1-yard touchdown run.

Hunter fumbled the kickoff again at his goal line, and Air Force's Chris Thomas recovered it in the end zone for a safety to put the Falcons up 23-0.

Air Force finally got the chance to use its powerful option attack and scored another touchdown after the ensuing free kick, driving 62 yards in 10 plays. Quarterback Shaun Carney capped it with a 6-yard run.

Williams was intercepted again on Army's next play from scrimmage. John Rabold returned it 15 yards to the Army 26, and if the Black Knights didn't know it wasn't their night by then, they found out six plays later.

Jacob Kendrick fumbled at the goal line and Beau Suder recovered it in the end zone to put the Falcons up 36-0.

Williams again was intercepted by Rabold on first down on Army's next play from scrimmage and Carney, who was 2-for-4 for 44 yards passing, hit Spencer Armstrong for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 39 seconds left in the half.

Air Force intercepted Williams again late in the third but did not convert it. The Black Knights have allowed 99 points off 32 turnovers this season.

Army's David Pevoto threw a 15-yard TD pass to Corey Anderson with 1:39 left in the game to avert a shutout.