WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) - Tim Jefferson scored twice and hit Jonathan Warzeka on touchdown passes of 53 and 63 yards, and Jordan Waiwaiole returned a fumble 63 yards for another score as Air Force beat Army 42-22 on Saturday to win the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the 17th time.
Navy had won the past seven CICs, but the Falcons beat the Middies 14-6 in October behind Jefferson’s two touchdowns. Saturday’s victory gave Air Force (6-4) its first trophy, emblematic of supremacy among the three service academies, since 2002. It also made them eligible for a bowl game.
Army (5-4) gained a 6-0 lead on field goals of 30 and 41 yards by Alex Carlton before Jefferson got the Falcons going. He scored on a 3-yard run on the first play of the second quarter and hit Warzeka for a 53-yard score to give the Falcons (6-4) a lead they never relinquished in beating Army for the seventh straight time at Michie Stadium.
The Black Knights entered the game with a +1.25 turnover margin, fifth-best in the country, but they were done in by some timely passing by the usually ground-oriented Falcons and two huge turnovers on a sun-splashed day.
Army was the only remaining team in the country that had not thrown an interception, but after Jacob Bohn’s 18-yard touchdown run moved the Black Knights within 14-13 midway through the second quarter, Anthony Wright intercepted Trent Steelman to give the Falcons a critical momentum swing.
Wright returned it 32 yards to the Army 23 in the final minute of the first half to turn the tide for the Falcons, and Nathan Walker scored on a 2-yard run with 13.5 seconds left for a 21-13 halftime lead.
Carlton’s third field goal, a season-long from 46 yards out, moved the Black Knights within 21-16 with 2:22 left in the third.
But Jefferson, who was just 3 of 7 passing for 124 yards, then avoided a blitzing Donnie Dixon and hit Warzeka for a 63-yard score in the final minute of the period to give the Falcons a 28-16 lead.
The Black Knights lost any chance at a comeback when Waiwaiole scooped up a fumble near midfield by Jared Hassin and ran it back 52 yards for a score and a commanding 35-16 lead with 12:39 left.
Air Force finished with 277 yards rushing to Army’s 244 in a battle of option attacks. Walker finished with 109 yards on 15 carries to lead the Falcons, and Hassin led the Black Knights with 114, his fourth straight 100-yard game.
It was the final home game of the season for the Black Knights, who close with Kent, Notre Dame and Navy, and it brought out a sports celebrity crowd. In the press box was New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, as well as former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Falcons.
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