Air Force defeats Army, secures Commander-in-Chief's trophy

Senior offensive lineman Tyler Schonsheck celbrates following the Air Force victory over Army Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at Westpoint's Michie Stadium.  The Falcons defeated the Black Knights 42-22 and clinched the Commander-in-Chief's trophy for the first time since 2002.  (U.S. Army photo/Tommy Gilligan)

Senior offensive lineman Tyler Schonsheck celbrates following the Air Force victory over Army Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 at Westpoint's Michie Stadium. The Falcons defeated the Black Knights 42-22 and clinched the Commander-in-Chief's trophy for the first time since 2002. (U.S. Army photo/Tommy Gilligan)

U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY, N.Y. -- They are the future leaders of the world's strongest military. They dedicate what could be the greatest four years of their lives to honing the skills necessary to guide their Airmen and Soldiers on the field of battle. But for 60 minutes, they are bitter enemies who square off in a rivalry going back to 1959.

The Air Force Falcons defeated the Black Knights of West Point 42-22 Nov. 6 at Michie Field here. The teams have now battled on the gridiron 45 times with the Falcons leading the series 31-13 with one tie. This is the fifth-straight Air Force victory against Army.

"Fine victory," said Falcon head coach Troy Calhoun. "Really, I think both teams on that field are two good football teams. It's good to come up here, especially for our kids, and create a memory. That's what they did through their work, through their dedication for some time. Hopefully what we've done is create something that these guys can carry with them for quite some time."

The Black Knights were on fire to start the game, dominating the Falcons on defense and showing strength on the ground on offense. They had two good, clock-eating drives in a row, each resulting in field goals from junior kicker Alex Carlton, and took a 6-0 lead into the second quarter.

The Falcons finally woke up, scoring 21 points in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Tim Jefferson put the first points on the board for the Falcons following his 3-yard touchdown run. The run capped an 11-play, 67-yard drive. After the Falcons stopped the ensuing Black Knight drive, Jefferson struck again. After emphasizing his running ability with a 33-yard run, he followed it up with a 53-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jonathan Warzeka.

Later, Army answered with an 18-yard touchdown run from senior fullback Jacob Bohn to cap an eight-play, 60-yard Black Knight drive.

Air Force had a brief scare when Jefferson was knocked out of the game on the very next drive, causing junior quarterback Connor Dietz to enter the game. The scare was short-lived, however, when Jefferson came in on the next Falcon drive, leading his team down the field for another Falcon touchdown. Senior running back Nathan Walker, playing in place of injured senior Jared Tew, punched the ball in for a touchdown on a 3-yard run. The drive was made possible by an interception from junior defensive back Anthony Wright Jr.

"(That interception) was a big part of the game," said Army sophomore quarterback Troy Steelman. "Unfortunately, the only pick I throw all year comes back to haunt us. It was a two-man route, but the corner got in front of the ball and picked it off. I need to do a better job of seeing him and kind of looking the thing off. You have to be able to forget that type of stuff and move on."

Air Force took the 21-13 lead into the locker room at the half.

After a pair of punts from the Falcons and one from the Army, the Black Knights finally put the first points of the second half on the board following another Carlton field goal taking the score to 21-16.

Jefferson answered the challenge immediately with another huge touchdown pass to Warzeka, this one for 63 yards. Warzeka finished the game with two receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons led the Knights by 12 at the end of the third quarter.

"The first (touchdown pass) was kind of just by luck because it was a completely wrong read," Jefferson said. "We had two receivers in the same area just by luck, but (Warzeka) made the play -- one guy made the block and the other guy made the catch, and then the second one, we just executed really well."

The Falcons added to the Black Knight woes as Army sophomore fullback Jared Hassin fumbled the ball right into the arms of Falcon junior linebacker Jordan Waiwaiole. Waiwaiole took advantage of the Army mistake running the ball back 52 yards for another Falcon score. It was Waiwaiole's first career touchdown.

"If we're being precise, taking care of the football and not wasting downs, we got a great chance," said Army head coach Rich Ellerson. "Our kicker had a career day. Our punter played really well ... effort was not the issue. Investment was not the issue. It was turnovers, penalties and precision. All of those nasty little details."

This forced the Army to try and take to the air, not usually a strong point for a triple-option team. Steelman finished the game with five completions on 10 attempts with 72 yards. The Black Knights cut the Falcon lead to 13 when Steelman connected with junior wide receiver Austin Barr on a 9-yard touchdown strike, but the Knights failed to convert their two-point attempt.

"We were fully prepared for what they were giving on a play-to-play basis," Steelman said. "It just comes down to being able to execute every play and keeping their offense off the field and doing what we do best, which is running the ball. They played well today and they're a good team. We just have to go back to work."

That would do it offensively for the Knights. The Falcons answered with another Jefferson touchdown run. Jefferson finished with three completions on seven attempts for 124 yards and two touchdowns through the air and 11 rushes for 57 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Jefferson was named the player of the game for his efforts.

The victory clinched the Commander-in-Chief trophy for the Falcons. The trophy is awarded to the military service academy that defeats the other two during the regular season. The trophy was first awarded in 1972 by President Richard Nixon. It was the brainchild of Gen. George B. Simler, the then-commander of Air Training Command and former Air Force Academy athletic director.

While the Air Force has the shortest military academy football career, it leads the way in CIC-trophy wins with 17. Calhoun improves his record to 31-18 all-time in his fourth season as Falcons head coach. His military academy record is now 5-3.

The Falcons will receive the trophy from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House in the spring.

"I tell the guys to celebrate the heck out of this accomplishment," Calhoun said. "It's an eye-opener in terms of possibilities. More importantly it solidifies our approach to work ethic, our hardness, our kind of commitment."

With their sixth win, the Falcons become bowl-eligible. They are eligible to go to either the Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas, the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., the Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas or the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque. As the bowl picture looks right now, they will likely end up in either the Independence Bowl or the Armed Forces Bowl. But until the decision is made, the Falcons will focus on the remaining two games on their schedule. Meanwhile, this game was a chance for the Falcons to make up for a three-game slide.

"We have a chance to end the season on a really high note," Jefferson said. "We're going to celebrate this, and then when we get home, we're going to get back to work on Monday. San Diego State is a really underrated team; TCU and Utah speak for themselves: top-10 teams, what else can you say about them. It was rough those past three weeks, but we're through that part of the schedule and we have a chance to play our best football."

Air Force will come home to Falcon Stadium to take on New Mexico next Saturday. The game will be their last home game of the season and will air live on the Mountain Network. Game updates will also be available on the Academy's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USAFA.Official.