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FGs help Air Force drop Army for 4th straight win

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- After just three plays from scrimmage, Army had Air Force where it seldom has in the recent past -- behind.

Then Falcons kicker Ryan Harrison took over.

Harrison made field goals from 20, 29 and 48 yards and was solid on eight punts as the Falcons overcame a 47-yard Army touchdown pass 78 seconds into the game and beat the Black Knights 16-7 on Saturday for their fourth straight victory.

"I had a hunch coming in it was gonna be exactly like this," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. "You didn't think there would be a whole lot of points scored. The last five games they have had a bunch of low-scoring games. They fought their guts out, our guys did, too."

Harrison is 19-for-21 on the season on field goals to tie a school record for most in a season set by Dave Lawson in 1974 and matched by David Adams in 2000.

"Those kind of kicks are what you live for," said Harrison, who also drew a roughing-the-kicker penalty late in the game and admitted he embellished it with some acting. "I don't know if it was worth 15 yards."

It was the sixth straight win at Michie Stadium for the Falcons (7-2) and their 10th win in 11 games against Army (3-6). Not only did the loss give archrival Navy a clear shot at capturing the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy outright for the sixth straight time, it spoiled the final home game for 44 Army seniors.

"I didn't envision a loss," senior linebacker Frank Scappaticci said. "It's sad that it's ending a chapter in my life, and it's something very important to me. Right now, all I'm thinking about is feeling a little disappointed about the game."

Nobody on the Army bench was sitting after the Black Knights received the opening kickoff of the game. Army, ranked last in the nation in passing at 45.4 yards per game, surprised the Falcons when Chip Bowden hit Damion Hunter with a short throw to the right flat near midfield, and the receiver sidestepped three defenders on his way to 47-yard score, the first of his career.

"It was great to see the offense coming alive," Army senior linebacker John Plumstead said. "We had a lot of momentum when we went out there."

It gradually evaporated as the game wore on.

Air Force entered the game with 14 fumble recoveries, tied for tops in the nation, and the Black Knights led the country with 17 lost fumbles, so something figured to give. With the help of instant replay, it did.

Fullback Collin Mooney, the workhorse of the Army offense, fumbled at his 27 on a hit by Brandon Reeves, and Reggie Rembert recovered for the Falcons. Mooney originally was ruled down, but after Air Force challenged and the play was reviewed, the call was reversed.

The Army defense stiffened after Todd Newell's 4-yard run gave Air Force a first down at the 2, and forcing Harrison's 20-yard field goal with 6:51 left in the first quarter.

The Falcons failed to take advantage of an interception at the Army 41 early in the second. But Rembert's 35-yard punt return, a personal foul against Army's Richard King, and Tim Jefferson's 21-yard pass to Ty Paffett set up Jefferson's 1-yard scoring run with 1:30 left in the half to give the Falcons a 10-7 lead at the break.

Harrison, whose punting kept the Army offense on its heels, kicked his second field goal with 18 seconds left in the third and added his longest of the season with 1:42 remaining in the game after Army gambled and didn't convert on a fourth-down play at its own 33.

"We thought about the punt, but he's a pretty consistent guy, give him a rip at it," Calhoun said. "You have to consider it. If you have a chance to go up two scores in this game, you gotta do it, especially up here."

Air Force, ranked fourth nationally in rushing at 291 yards per game, finished with 142 yards on the ground, its lowest total against Army since 1996. Newell led the Falcons with 42 yards on eight carries. Army, eighth in rushing at 246.7 per game, was led by Mooney's 92 yards on 22 carries.

The Falcons' powerful option also registered only 10 first downs. Their four scoring drives totaled 93 yards (24, 34, 32 and 3) and their average starting field position was their own 42. Army's average starting position was its own 24.