Carney injures knee after being hit by three Cal defenders

Updated: December 31, 2007, 7:09 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Record-setting Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney sustained ligament damage in his right knee when it buckled awkwardly during a tackle Monday in the Armed Forces Bowl, the final game of the four-year starter's career.

Carney was running right on a third-and-goal keeper from the 1 late in the third quarter when he was hit head-on by two California defenders short of the end zone. But he was also hit from the side by another defender and the impact of that bent Carney's leg.

"It looks like both ACL and MCL," coach Troy Calhoun said after the Falcons' 42-36 loss. "I'm sure in his mind and his heart he was going to try to find a way to back out there. It wasn't happening."

Carney immediately grabbed his right knee while still on the ground.

"Standing over him, hearing him, it was tough," receiver Chad Hall said.

After being tended to by medical personnel, Carney was helped off the field and didn't put any weight on his right leg.

Television replays showed the gruesome bend of Carney's knee when he was hit from the side by defensive back Syd'Quan Thompson, on what appeared to be a clean tackle. Justin Moye, a linebacker who was one of the two head-on tacklers, knew right away Carney was hurt.

"You could tell he was a competitor. Every time you hit him, he would just come right back up," Moye said. "I knew something was pretty wrong pretty quick because he was squirming on the ground and he didn't sound too good. ... I hope he's all right."

Carney had 15 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown, and was 5-of-8 passing for 68 yards and a score. He finished as Air Force's career leader in total offense (7,952 yards), passing yards (5,391) and passing touchdowns (39). He is fifth with 2,561 rushing yards.

While his playing career is over, Carney still has a semester remaining at the Air Force Academy. Once he graduates in May, he will have to pass a thorough physical before he can be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force.

"That will happen with him. We'll have to see the severity of the injury, but certainly there's going to be some extensive rehab that's involved for him," Calhoun said. "He's going to have to find a way to kind of motor around and get to class. He'll do that."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press