Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said last week that quarterback Zac Larrier would be “out a while” after being injured in the Falcons’ previous game.
Navy sure wishes Calhoun were right.
Larrier threw for 151 yards, including a school-record 94-yard touchdown pass to Dane Kinamon, as Air Force stayed unbeaten and rose to No. 19 in the Top 25 after a 17-6 win over the Midshipmen in Annapolis, Md.
Larrier and the Falcons (7-0, 4-0 Mountain West) will look to keep rolling Saturday when they make the short trip to Fort Collins, Colo., to face Colorado State (3-4, 1-2).
A knee injury during a 34-27 victory over Wyoming on Oct. 14 put Larrier’s availability in doubt but ultimately did not alter Calhoun’s game plan. Larrier ran the ball 15 times, on par with his per-game average, and threw for his second-most yards of the year.
“They got me ready to play, and I felt ready,” Larrier said of the training staff. “I know my coaches wouldn’t have sent me in if I wasn’t ready or if they didn’t believe I was ready, so they let me get in there. And I’m happy they let me get in there.”
Equally as important was the Falcons’ defense. Navy finished with only 124 total yards, including 78 on a late touchdown drive that foiled Air Force’s shutout bid. The Midshipmen were limited to 22 rushing yards on 35 carries.
The result put the Falcons in the driver’s seat for their second straight Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. A win at home next week against Army would give them their 22nd trophy, extending their series record.
“It’s always a big deal,” Calhoun said. “It just moves you beyond football, too. You have future service members that have made a commitment to do everything they can to make our country a better place.”
Meanwhile, Colorado State is coming off a bitter 25-23 loss last week at UNLV on a 28-yard field goal by Jose Pizano with three seconds left. The Rams took a one-point edge on a 55-yard field goal by Jordan Noyes with 44 seconds left but couldn’t make one final stop on defense.
It was Pizano’s sixth field goal of the day.
“We just made too many little mistakes at critical times that could have helped us either move the ball offensively or get off the field on defense,” said Colorado State coach Jay Norvell. “We didn’t play as well on special teams as we needed to with the field position.”
It was a 180-degree turn from the previous week, when the Rams came up with three touchdowns in the final five minutes, including a Hail Mary on the last play, to stun Boise State 31-30.
Wasted in the outcome against UNLV were 235 passing yards from Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi and seven receptions from Tory Horton, who in seven games already has 65 catches. That puts him on pace to finish with 110 for the year.
Air Force leads the series 38-21-1 and has won 14 of the last 16 meetings, including six in a row.