Navy grounded again by Falcons Air Force wins 13th in past 14, 30-20


Many explanations have been offered for Air Force's domination of Navy in their inter-service football rivalry since 1982:

* More stability in the coaching staff.

* Continuity in the triple-option offense

* Superior recruiting.

* An easier academic load.

Quite simply, Air Force has Navy's number.

Led by elusive junior quarterback Beau Morgan, who rushed for 113 yards and passed for 160, the Falcons yesterday defeated the Midshipmen for the 13th time in their past 14 meetings, 30-20, before a near-sellout crowd of 35,340 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

With his Mids losing their third straight home game and dropping to 2-4, first-year coach Charlie Weatherbie saw two of his preseason goals evaporate -- a shot at a postseason bowl and a chance to win the Commander in Chief's Trophy, symbolic of football supremacy among the three service academies.

Beating archrival Army in the season finale now remains the only realistic goal.

Weatherbie had an added incentive for beating Air Force: He was facing former boss Fisher DeBerry for the first time. If Weatherbie, a DeBerry aide from 1984 to 1989, had plans to use some gimmick plays, he was granted few opportunities by the explosive Falcons, who rolled up 447 yards on offense and controlled the ball for 36 minutes.

"Our offense moved the ball all day," said Morgan. "I'm disappointed, because we should have scored 50 points."

Morgan's deft execution of the wishbone had the Navy defense rocking on its heels all afternoon.

"Their triple-option offense is definitely different," said defensive end Andy Person. "It can be very mesmerizing. If you don't stick to your man assignments, you get burned. Morgan's a great quarterback, small, but very quick. You really have to wrap him up quickly."

But Morgan was always a step ahead of the Mids in the first half as the Falcons jumped to a 17-0 lead and were never threatened.

In the first quarter, Morgan, facing third-and-nine, threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to halfback Jake Campbell. He then used a quarterback keeper for the final yard to complete an 81-yard march at the start of the second quarter.

After completing his first five passes, the Dallas native made one of his few mistakes, overthrowing an open Tobin Ruff in the end zone. The Falcons settled for a 21-yard field goal by Randy Roberts.

After suffering through six straight scoreless quarters, the Mids mounted their futile comeback, as two field goals by Jason Covarrubias cut the deficit to 17-6.

But Air Force quickly retaliated. A darting 23-yard run by Morgan, on which he shed three tacklers, set up fullback Brandon Wilkerson's 6-yard burst to give the Falcons a 23-6 cushion.

The Mids still had several chances to make the game close after forcing turnovers.

A fumble recovery by Person on the Falcons 36 led to reserve junior quarterback Ben Fay's 36-yard touchdown pass to wideout Astor Heaven, who managed to catch the ball on the goal line in a crowd of defenders.

Covarrubias' conversion made it 23-13 with 1:09 remaining in the third quarter to enliven the Navy supporters. But they were quickly silenced by what proved to be the game-breaking play.

On third-and-seven from the Air Force 23, wide receiver Craig Hancock slipped behind Navy defenders Gervy Alota and Matt Scanlan, turning Morgan's pass into a 73-yard completion before being tripped up on the 4-yard line.

Halfback Nakia Addison scored from 2 yards to give the Falcons a commanding 30-13 lead.

"One of our defensive backs lined up on the wrong side of the field," Weatherbie said. "They caught us at the right time in the wrong defense."

The lightly played Fay, who played most of the second half after starter Chris McCoy again struggled, provided one of the few positives for the Mids, completing 14 of 23 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown.

"We needed an offensive spark and Fay gave us one," said Weatherbie, who said he was not prepared to say whether Fay would start instead of sophomore McCoy against Villanova on Saturday.

3)Air Force .. ..7 ..10 ..6 ..7 ..-- ..30

Navy .. .. .. .0 ...3 .10 ..7 ..-- ..20

Next for Navy

Opponent: Villanova

Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Record: 2-4

3' Yesterday: Beat Northeastern, 27-24

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