World

Zac Larrier throws a 94-yard touchdown and No. 22 Air Force shuts down Navy 17-6

By NOAH TRISTER (AP Sports Writer)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said early in the week that quarterback Zac Larrier would be out “a while” — then his status apparently changed rather dramatically.

“I went to practice on Wednesday and saw (No.) 9 bouncing around. I went over and asked if this was possible and was told yes,” Calhoun said. “On Thursday, we really put him through some work to see if there was swelling or soreness on Friday, and he seemed to be good. I truly thought last week on Saturday night that he was finished for the season.”

Larrier overcame his knee injury and threw a 94-yard touchdown to Dane Kinamon — the longest pass in Air Force history — and the 22nd-ranked Falcons shut down Navy 17-6 on Saturday.

Air Force (7-0) gained almost as many yards on that one play as Navy (3-4) did in the entire game. The Falcons seemed to back off defensively late, allowing the Midshipmen to drive 78 yards for their only touchdown. They finished with 124 yards.

Larrier completed only four passes, but they went for a total of 151 yards. Navy coach Brian Newberry said he wasn’t surprised Larrier played.

“Being out for ‘a while’ might mean to him that he’s out until Wednesday of game week,” Newberry said. “We expected him to play.”

Larrier threw a 34-yard pass to Jared Roznos in the first quarter that Navy was fortunate wasn’t a longer gain. That drive ended in a missed field goal.

On the first play of the second quarter, with the Falcons facing second-and-10 from their own 6, Larrier found Kinamon up the right sideline. None of the Midshipmen could catch him.

“Coach knew a look he wanted to get there and he put us in one,” Larrier said. “You drop back there and expect guys to be open and I tried to make sure I could give him the best ball I could.”

The Falcons can win the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for a second straight year if they beat Army in two weeks.

Navy freshman Braxton Woodson relieved injured quarterback Tai Lavatai in a win over Charlotte last weekend, and Woodson started this game. But after the Midshipmen managed only 11 yards and one first down through three quarters, Lavatai took over in the fourth.

Navy finally started moving the ball with Lavatai, but he was intercepted twice during that final period. The second of those turnovers was returned 18 yards for a touchdown by Alec Mock.

Lavatai threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Eli Heidenreich in the final minute to deny Air Force its first shutout against Navy. The only shutout in series history was a 17-0 win by the Midshipmen in 1975.

“You always want zero, but when you’re playing coverage at the end of the game, not trying to let up the big play, it’s just kind of what you expect,” Air Force linebacker Bo Richter said. “Obviously, would have rather had zero. What I’d rather have more is the ‘W’ so I’ll take that.”

Attendance was 38,803, a record at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

THE TAKEAWAY

Air Force: Thanks to that final drive, the stats didn’t totally reflect how dominant the Falcons were defensively. They did hold Navy to 3 of 17 on third down.

The Falcons have won 12 games in a row, one shy of a school record set from 1984-85.

Navy: Give the Midshipmen credit defensively for mostly stopping an Air Force team that has reached 30 points in five of its seven games. The Falcons had only nine first downs, but Navy’s offensive numbers were putrid for most of the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

After entering the Top 25 last weekend, Air Force probably didn’t earn many style points in this win, but that’s not what these rivalry games are about.

TOUGH SPOT

Woodson was making his first start — just the sixth freshman in school history to start at quarterback. He wasn’t up to the challenge against a tough Air Force defense in a game in which both teams are very familiar with each other.

“We knew that they were going to be physical,” Woodson said. “It just didn’t go in our favor. We’ve got a lot of things to work on and clean up.”

Navy went three-and-out on eight of its 10 drives in the first three quarters, and one of its other two possessions ended with a kneel down to conclude the first half.

UP NEXT

Air Force: The Falcons play at Colorado State next Saturday night.

Navy: The Midshipmen have a weekend off before visiting Temple on Nov. 4.

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