AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Army stumped Air Force’s offense like very few have before. Give the Black Knights a trophy for the effort — or the shot at one anyway.
Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for a career-high 265 yards and Army ended Air Force’s 306-game scoring streak with a 21-0 win on Saturday.
Air Force had the fifth-longest scoring streak all-time in the FBS before Army’s swarming defense ended it. The last time the Falcons were held scoreless was by Mississippi in the 1992 Liberty Bowl. It was the first time the Falcons were shut out at home since Nov. 1, 1980, against Boston College.
“That was our mentality going in — just stuffing them on ‘O’,” Army senior defensive lineman John Voigt said.
In addition, the Black Knights (7-2) took a big first step in their quest to capture the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 1996. The winner of the Army-Navy game on Dec. 9 will take home the honor in the annual round-robin competition between service academies. Air Force was beaten by Navy earlier this season.
“It’s just nice to know that we’re going to have a chance to play for the trophy in December,” Army coach Jeff Monken said.
Army kept the Air Force (4-5) off the board midway through the fourth quarter when the defense stopped the Falcons on downs deep in Army territory. After the offense went on a time-consuming scoring drive, the defense finished off the shutout by forcing an Air Force punt in the waning seconds. The Falcons missed a 47-yard field goal in the first quarter.
“You could tell they wanted it more — from the first snap,” Air Force quarterback Arion Worthman said. “Army really wanted this win today. ... We got our (rears) kicked today. They brought it to us.”
Kell Walker scored twice for the Black Knights, who earned their first win at Falcon Stadium since 2005.
Bradshaw got sick near the sideline in the first quarter and sat out a play. He made Air Force sick the rest of the afternoon, scoring on a 21-yard run to help Army win its fifth straight game. He didn’t attempt a pass all afternoon in the windy conditions.
“My stomach was kind of bothering me through warmups,” said Bradshaw, whose previous best rushing performance was 177 yards against Fordham earlier this season. “I thought it would go, but it kind of stuck with me. I left it out on the field, if you didn’t see.”
The Falcons finished with 95 yards rushing, which is well below their season average (350.2). They had 190 total yards.
“They were playing with a little more energy, a little more pep in their step,” Worthman said. “A little more energy on the sideline. ... We were kind of flat the whole game.”
The game changed tenor in the second quarter after Worthman missed a wide open Ryan Reffitt for what looked like a sure touchdown. After a punt, Bradshaw led the Black Knights on a nine-play drive that culminated with a 27-yard TD run by Walker to make it 14-0.
“We gave up some big plays against them a year ago,” Monken said. “We didn’t give up the big plays this year.”
Not only that, but Army’s defense was on point all afternoon in bottling up the Falcons’ tricky triple-option offense.
“They were stuffing us pretty well,” senior tailback Tim McVey said. “We did not play the way we wanted to.”
Army: That bye week was put to good use as the Black Knights frustrated the Falcons. It was only their second win against Air Force in the last 12 games.
Air Force: The Falcons need to win two of their final three to become bowl eligible for a 10th time under coach Troy Calhoun. The Falcons lead the series with Army 36-15-1.
Calhoun refused to dwell on the end of the streak.
“It’s a credit to how well they played defense and we didn’t play well offensively,” Calhoun said. “We didn’t play well enough in any facet.”
BRADSHAW’S BIG DAY
The 265 yards rushing by Bradshaw was the most rushing yards in a game by an Army quarterback, according to the team’s website. The previous best was 212 yards by Trent Steelman against Eastern Michigan on Oct. 20, 2012.
Army: Host Duke next weekend.
Air Force: Host Wyoming on Saturday.