Falcons upend Black Knights, 42-28

Air Force sophomore linebacker Reggie Barnes dives to tackle Army running back Terry Baggett during the Air Force-Army football game at Falcon Stadium Nov. 2, 2013. The Falcons defense held the Black Knights to just seven points in the second half, giving Air Force a 42-28 victory. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Air Force sophomore linebacker Reggie Barnes dives to tackle Army running back Terry Baggett during the Air Force-Army football game at Falcon Stadium Nov. 2, 2013. The Falcons defense held the Black Knights to just seven points in the second half, giving Air Force a 42-28 victory. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Air Force freshman quarterback Nate Romine hands off to senior running back Anthony LaCoste during the Air Force-Army football game at Falcon Stadium Nov. 2, 2013. LaCoste scored on 73- and 78-yard runs to lead the Falcons over the Black Knights, 42-28. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Air Force freshman quarterback Nate Romine hands off to senior running back Anthony LaCoste during the Air Force-Army football game at Falcon Stadium Nov. 2, 2013. LaCoste scored on 73- and 78-yard runs to lead the Falcons over the Black Knights, 42-28. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Air Force sophomore defensive back Dexter Walker goes vertical to block an Army field goal attempt during the Air Force-Army game at Falcon Stadium Nov. 2, 2013. Defensive lineman Nick Fitzgerald got a hand on the kick to block it. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Air Force sophomore defensive back Dexter Walker goes vertical to block an Army field goal attempt during the Air Force-Army game at Falcon Stadium Nov. 2, 2013. Defensive lineman Nick Fitzgerald got a hand on the kick to block it. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Air Force freshman quarterback Nate Romine runs past Army defenders during the Air Force-Army game at Falcon Stadium Nov. 2, 2013. Romine had seven carries for 31 yards and a touchdown and went 7-of-8 passing for 111 yards in the Falcons' 42-28 victory. (U.S. Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

Air Force freshman quarterback Nate Romine runs past Army defenders during the Air Force-Army game at Falcon Stadium Nov. 2, 2013. Romine had seven carries for 31 yards and a touchdown and went 7-of-8 passing for 111 yards in the Falcons' 42-28 victory. (U.S. Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force fans came to Falcon Stadium Saturday for the Falcons' annual match against Army, but they stayed for the Anthony LaCoste Show.

The senior running back from Albany, Ore., ran for three touchdowns, including 73- and 78-yard romps, to give Air Force a decisive 42-28 victory over the Black Knights.

LaCoste's first touchdown scamper came three plays after Army's opening possession. The Falcons' offensive line opened up a hole, and LaCoste took off so quickly that he'd passed Army's secondary before they could react. He juked past Army's safety near the Knights' 27-yard-line and continued untouched into the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.

Air Force's defense, despite being on the field for more than 11 minutes in the first quarter, stuffed Army running back Terry Baggett on third down to set up a fourth and 12 from the Air Force 31. The Falcons' Nick Fitzgerald got a hand on Daniel Grochowski's kick to block it, and Gavin McHenry ran 24 yards with the ball to give Air Force the ball inside Black Knights territory. Garrett Brown ran 14 yards on fourth and 2 to even the score again at 14-14.

LaCoste set up a quick drive near the end of the first half with a 44-yard run off tackle. Freshman quarterback Nate Romine followed up with a 19-yard pass to Garrett Griffin, another star of the game, to set up first and goal from the Army 3. Romine called his own number on third and goal from the 1 to tie the game at 21-21.

LaCoste's second long run came on an outside pitch from Romine in the third quarter. Plowing through a hole between the offensive line and the receivers, LaCoste again took it to the house, 10 yards ahead of the nearest defender. That gave the Falcons their first lead in the game, 28-21.

Once the Falcons' offense had built a lead, the defense never let Army take it back. Robert Green and Jordan Pierce each found Army QB Angel Santiago in the backfield, sacking him for 8 yards apiece. Army's ground game, which is the most prolific in the NCAA with more than 336 yards per game, couldn't find its legs against the Falcons' defensive backs, who held the Knights to less than 100 rushing yards in the second half.

"Green played really well," Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said. "Eight-yard plays in the first half were held to 2-yard gains."

Army's only touchdown of the second half came on a muffed punt return by Air Force's Brown to set up a four-play, 25-yard drive, that narrowed the score to 35-28 with less than six minutes to play. Romine, in response, hit Brown for passes of 11 yards and 29 yards to set up the game's final score.

"We didn't want to be content," Brown said. "We didn't want to play to not lose."

Romine said Air Force has to take the momentum it gained from this win into the remainder of its season. The Falcons face New Mexico (2-6), UNLV (5-4) and Colorado State (4-5) to wrap up their season.

"We just have to execute," he said. "We have to keep building on this."

Air Force's victory makes the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy hunt academic: No matter who wins the Army-Navy game, the trophy will stay in Annapolis, Md.