Air Force wide receiver Dontae Strickland tries to break away from Army defensive back Chris Carnegie after catching a pass during the NCAA Football game between Falcons and Black Knights at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., Nov. 3. Army defeated Air Force 41-21, earning their first victory over Air Force since 2005. (U.S. Army photo/Tommy Gilligan)
Air Force defenders bring down Army receiver Patrick Laird after a pass from Army quarterback Trent Steelman during the Falcons' game against the Black Knights at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2012. Air Force lost to Army, 41-21, marking the Falcons' first defeat to Army since 2005. (U.S. Army photo/Tommy Gilligan)
Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz and Army defensive lineman Joe Drummond fight for control of a fumble after a bad snap during the fourth quarter of the teams' match at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2012. Black Knights linebacker Nate Combs recovered the ball in the Falcons' end zone to take a 41-21 lead and kill Air Force's hopes for a comeback. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tommy Gilligan)
Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz runs for the end zone in the fourth quarter versus Army at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2012. The Falcons attempted to stage a comeback after going into the fourth quarter down 35-7 but fell short, losing to the Black Knights 41-21. (U.S. Air Force photo/Cadet 2nd Class Roed Mejia)
11/5/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Turnovers made the difference in the Air Force's 41-21 loss to Army Nov. 3 at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y.
The Falcons, unable to establish an offensive rhythm after two solid drives in the first quarter, gave up three interceptions and two fumbles that cost them 17 points against the opportunistic Black Knights and any hope of retaining the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.
The Falcons and Black Knights traded touchdowns on their opening possessions. The Falcons looked poised to take the lead after stopping Army cold on its second possession and blitzing to the Knights' 1-yard line.
On fourth and goal, quarterback Connor Dietz called his own number. Video would later show that he broke the plane of the goal line, but officials didn't have access to replay video due to a power outage in the stadium caused by Hurricane Sandy's swath through the state of New York earlier in the week.
Instead of taking a 14-7 lead, Air Force remained tied with Army -- but while the Falcons wouldn't see the end zone again until the fourth quarter, the Black Knights took control of the scoreboard. They marched 96 yards on their ensuing drive before settling for a 20-yard chip shot by kicker Dan Grochowski to take a 10-7 lead.
Army's defense made sure Army kept that lead, twice picking off Dietz -- who before Saturday had just one career interception -- to set up a touchdown and a field goal. The Falcons entered the locker room at halftime down 20-7.
While the Falcons' offense continued to falter in the third quarter, going three-and-out on three straight possessions, the Black Knights moved the ball at will, scoring two consecutive touchdowns on 54-yard drives. A two-point conversion on the end of the second touchdown made the score 35-7.
For part of the fourth quarter, it looked like the Falcons might overcome the 28-point deficit. Dietz led the Falcons into the end zone on an 11-play, 68-yard scoring drive, and Air Force recovered its onside kick to set up a second touchdown, making the score 35-21 with 6:28 to play.
The Falcons' defense stopped Army's next drive and got the ball back with about three minutes left, but a bad snap bounced into Air Force's end zone, where Army defensive lineman Nate Combs recovered it for the game-sealing score.
Air Force travels to San Diego State Nov. 10. The Falcons are 5-4 overall and 4-1 in the Mountain West Conference. The Aztecs (7-3, 5-1) come off a 21-19 upset of No. 19 Boise State in Boise, Idaho, Nov. 3. A win in San Diego would give the Falcons a share of first place in the conference.