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Air Force 24, New Mexico 7

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- The Air Force Falcons dismissed
the New Mexico Lobos as easily as they dispatched them.

After rolling to a 24-7 win over the Lobos, the Falcons
immediately turned their attention to Navy, which visits Falcon
Stadium next week.

Air Force (2-1, 1-0 Mountain West) annually counts as its top
goal winning the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy that the Midshipmen
have in their possession. The trophy, awarded to the top service
academy, had gone to Air Force 13 times in 14 seasons before the
Midshipmen won it the last three years.

"That's not going to be hard, I guarantee you," Air Force
coach Fisher DeBerry said of forgetting all about the good things
the Falcons did Saturday. "We had that thing for a long time and
Navy feels like it belongs to them now."

Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney said he starting thinking
about Navy when time ran out on the Lobos.

"It's really easy to put this behind us and not savor it
because we've got a team that we haven't beat in three years and
we've got to get these seniors back to Washington, D.C." for a
White House visit, Carney said. "As soon as that clock hit 0:00
tonight, everybody knows who's next."

Many of his teammates didn't even wait that long to set their
sights on Navy.

"It's hard not to think about it coming out of that third
quarter and the crowd talking about, 'We want Navy!" linebacker
Drew Fowler said. "It's on. It really is."

The win over the Lobos (2-3, 0-1) was a nice tuneup.

With fellow fullback Jacobe Kendrick leaving the game with an
apparent shoulder injury after a 24-yard gain in the first quarter,
Ryan Williams ran for 94 yards and a touchdown. Air Force had three
scoring drives of less than 30 yards and the Falcons outgained New
Mexico 262-41 on the ground, which kept the offense in safe mode
all afternoon.

"We didn't really have to throw the ball like we expected to,"
said Carney, who was 3-of-5 for 19 yards.

Trailing 14-7, the Lobos went for first down on
fourth-and-inches at the Falcons 41 late in the third quarter, but
quarterback Chris Nelson's sneak came up about an inch shy of the
first-down marker.

"That was the momentum changer of the game," Lobos coach Rocky
Long said.

In the span of 54 seconds, the Falcons put the Lobos away.

Senior Zach Sasser kicked a career-long 48-yard field goal to
make it 17-7 with 12:53 left. Then, Glover Quin flubbed Sasser's
kickoff, which was recovered by the Falcons' Aaron Kirchoff at the
Lobos 20. Three plays later, Williams took it in from 2 yards out
for a 24-7 lead.

Sasser might still have been relishing his field goal, which
would have been good from 60-plus, because he hit it flat and low.

"When I saw it corkscrewing through the air, my first thought
was, 'Aw, man. I can't believe I did that," Sasser said. "But
then when I saw him come to field it, because those knuckleballs
are hard to field, I was thinking, 'Man, that's probably not a good
idea."

The ball hit Quin's shin at the goal line and ricocheted 20
yards.

Falcons free safety Julian Madrid, who had two sacks,
intercepted Nelson's pass at the Air Force 3 with 3½ minutes left
to ice it.

The Falcons capitalized on two costly mistakes by the Lobos to
take a 14-7 halftime lead.

Air Force jumped ahead 7-0 on Carney's 3-yard keeper less than
three minutes into the game after cornerback Chris Sutton's
recovery of Rodney Ferguson's fumble at the New Mexico 15.

After the Lobos lost 14 yards on a fumbled option, taking them
out of field goal range, Air Force wing back Chad Hall took a pitch
from Carney and ran 38 yards for a 14-0 lead.

Ferguson atoned for his early mistake by taking a screen pass
from Nelson 58 yards for the score that trimmed the Falcons' lead
to 14-7 and briefly quieted the crowd enjoying the Falcons' latest
home opener since the 1959 team opened at home on Oct. 10 against
Idaho.

"We overcame that first turnover and made it a close game,"
Long said after the Lobos' lowest output against Air Force since a
10-6 loss in 1973. "But then we didn't get that first down and
turned the ball over on the kickoff. Any time you turn the ball
over that deep in your own territory, it makes it hard to
recover."

And any time Navy's on deck, it makes Saturday easy for the
Falcons to forget.