Oct 1, 2022; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; U.S. Air Force Academy superintendent Lieutenant General Richard M. Clark in the first quarter between the Air Force Falcons and the Navy Midshipmen at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Air Force’s Richard M. Clark eyed as next CFP leader

Air Force superintendent Richard M. Clark is the leading candidate to be the next College Football Playoff executive director, ESPN reported Friday.

The 59-year-old lieutenant general played linebacker for the Falcons in the 1980s before building a distinguished career in the military.

In September 2020, Clark became the first Black superintendent of the Air Force Academy.

Sources told ESPN that Clark is considered a “leader of leaders” and that he emerged from a pool of three finalists interviewed in person this week to replace the outgoing Bill Hancock.

Hancock is retiring after the 2023 bowl cycle.

The next CFP executive director will oversee the expansion to 12 teams starting in 2024 and will also have to negotiate a new television contract, which expires after the 2025 season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Army Black Knights quarterback Bryson Daily (13) carries for a 63 yard touchdown in the first quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Army forces 6 turnovers to clobber No. 25 Air Force

Bryson Daily rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns to lead visiting Army to a 23-3 upset victory against No. 25 Air Force on Saturday afternoon in Denver.

Air Force (8-1) had won 13 straight games dating to last season and was off to its best start since 1985.

Daily started at quarterback for the first time in three weeks and carried the ball 36 times. He attempted just nine passes, completing four for 40 yards.

Army (3-6) limited the Falcons to 259 total yards, forced six turnovers and stopped them on downs three other times in its first win against an AP-ranked team since 1972.

Air Force quarterback Zac Larrier completed 9 of 22 passes for 93 yards, with two interceptions and two lost fumbles for his first turnovers of the season.

Daily faked a handoff on the opening drive of the game and sprinted untouched through the middle of the defense for a 62-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Air Force went for it on fourth-and-1 from its own 34 on its first drive and was stopped short, leading to a 45-yard field goal by Quinn Maretzki to extend the lead to 10-0.

Larrier then committed his first turnover when he fumbled while preparing to throw and the ball was recovered by the Black Knights at the Air Force 45.

Army then used 11 plays to work its way down the field, and Daily capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 17-0 with 1:53 still left in the opening quarter.

The mistakes continued for the Falcons as they lost another fumble on the second play of the ensuing drive and Army recovered at the Air Force 40.

That led to a 40-yard field goal by Maretzki for a 20-0 lead with 13:14 left in the first half, Army’s first 20-point lead against an AP-ranked opponent since 1958.

The Falcons finally put together a lengthy drive but had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Matthew Dapore that cut the lead to 20-3 with 2:31 left in the half.

Larrier was intercepted late in the first half for the team’s third turnover and Maretzki followed with his third field goal, a 38-yarder as time expired to extend the lead to 23-3.

Air Force drove to the Army 5 late in the third quarter, but Dapore missed a 32-yard field goal.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Fort Collins, Colorado, USA;  Colorado State Rams defensive lineman Grady Kelly (90) chases Air Force Falcons quarterback Zac Larrier (9) in the second quarter at Sonny Lubick Field at Canvas Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Air Force beats Colorado State, improves to 8-0

Emmanuel Michel rushed for 130 yards and a clinching touchdown Saturday as No. 19 Air Force improved to 8-0 with a 30-13 Mountain West win over Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo.

Michel’s 5-yard scoring run with 8:51 left in the game helped the Falcons up their Mountain West record to 5-0 and enabled them to take another step toward the league’s championship game, as well as a possible Group of Five berth in a New Year’s Day bowl game.

Air Force relied on its staples — the running game, good defense and discipline — in snowy, 26-degree weather. The Falcons outrushed the Rams (3-5, 1-3) 259-42 and committed only two penalties for 15 yards.

Air Force quarterback Zac Larrier had a modest statistical game, completing 4 of 7 passes for 32 yards with a touchdown and rushing for 34 yards on 13 attempts. But his 1-yard scoring run with 8:58 left in the third quarter put the Falcons ahead for good at 20-13.

Colorado State quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi hit 28 of 45 passes for 297 yards with a touchdown but couldn’t get his team on the board in the second half. Justus Ross-Simmons caught eight passes for 128 yards and one score.

Air Force opened the scoring by playing classic complementary football. After stopping Fowler-Nicolosi for no gain on a fourth-and-1 run at the Falcons’ 46-yard line, it drove 54 yards and found the end zone on Larrier’s 9-yard pass to Dane Kinamon with 5:03 left in the first quarter.

Fowler-Nicolosi pulled Colorado State even just 22 seconds into the second period, teaming with Ross-Simmons for a 61-yard touchdown pass. The Rams took the lead on their next possession when Jordan Noyes connected on a 40-yard field goal at the 7:15 mark.

Air Force regained a 13-10 edge on a 10-yard scoring run by John Lee Eldridge III, three plays after Fowler-Nicolosi was strip-sacked inside his team’s 20. But Noyes drilled a 49-yard field goal with 45 seconds remaining to forge a 13-13 tie at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Annapolis, Maryland, USA;  Air Force Falcons quarterback Zac Larrier (9) drops back to the pocket during the second half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Air Force tops Navy with record-setting TD

Zac Larrier threw the longest touchdown pass in program history as No. 22 Air Force beat Navy 17-6 on Saturday afternoon in Annapolis, Md.

Larrier connected with Dane Kinamon for a 94-yard score on the first play of the second quarter to provide the Falcons with all the offense they would need to improve to 7-0 for the first time since 1997.

The Air Force defense took care of the rest, holding the Midshipmen (3-4) to just 124 yards of total offense. Alec Mock punctuated the impressive performance with an 18-yard pick-6 with 3:51 left in the game.

Navy was without senior quarterback Tai Lavatai (ribs) for the first three quarters. Freshman Braxton Woodson started under center, completing 2 of 6 passes for just 6 yards.

Lavatai came on for the fourth quarter but couldn’t complete a comeback, throwing for 96 yards and a pair of interceptions on 13-for-23 passing. He did, however, break the shutout, connecting with Eli Heidenreich for a 10-yard TD with 50 seconds remaining.

Meanwhile, Larrier completed 4 of 5 passes for 151 yards and the TD to Kinamon.

Emmanuel Michel led the Falcons’ rushing attack with 69 yards on 22 carries.

The Midshipmen ended up getting the ball with 6:40 left in the game, but Alex Tecza killed any chance of a comeback. He failed to haul in a routine pass from Lavatai, with the ball bouncing off his hands and into the grasp of Jamari Bellamy, who came down with an interception.

Lavatai later threw the pick-6 that added insult to injury.

Air Force looked poised to open the scoring on the game’s first drive, but Matthew Dapore missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt.

But the Falcons were still able to draw first blood thanks to Larrier’s record-setting touchdown throw, which gave Air Force a 7-0 lead that it ended up taking into the break.

Navy totaled just 20 yards through the first 30 minutes of action.

Dapore made it 10-0 with a 40-yard field goal with 5:55 left in the third quarter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2023; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Air Force Falcons quarterback Zac Larrier (9) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Robert Morris Colonials at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Air Force loses QB Zac Larrier to knee injury

Undefeated Air Force likely will be without starting quarterback and second-leading rusher Zac Larrier “for a while” because of a knee injury, coach Troy Calhoun told reporters Tuesday.

The No. 22 Falcons (6-0, 4-0 Mountain West) entered the AP Top 25 poll Sunday for the first time since 2019 after beating Wyoming 34-27.

Larrier had 58 passing yards, 111 rushing yards and two total touchdowns in that game, but he left the game in the fourth quarter and was seen wearing a knee brace on the sideline.

Backup Jensen Jones will take over for Air Force, which is preparing to visit rival Navy on Saturday.

Larrier has gone 20-for-28 passing (71.4 percent) on the season for 468 yards, four touchdowns and no picks. He’s also rushed 82 times for 473 yards and four touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Air Force Falcons defensive back Trey Williams (0) and defensive back Jamari Bellamy (3) and fullback Emmanuel Michel (4) and defensive back K.C. Beard (14) and cornerback Zion Kelly (17) celebrate after the game against the Wyoming Cowboys at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Air Force back in rankings, battles rival Navy

If a rivalry game with Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy implications wasn’t enough to get Air Force fired up, perhaps a spot in the national rankings will do the trick.

The No. 22 Falcons find themselves among the top 25 teams in the country for the first time since 2019, and they will look to keep climbing on Saturday when they face Navy in Annapolis, Md.

Air Force (6-0) moved into the rankings thanks to a 34-27 victory over Wyoming last weekend. The Falcons leaned on their rushing attack, amassing 356 yards on the ground, including a team-high 111 from quarterback Zac Larrier.

Although the win pushed Air Force into the national spotlight, coach Troy Calhoun knows his team can’t concern itself with the extra attention it’s about to receive.

“We’re on to the next practice — to learn from a game and to move forward,” Calhoun said following the victory over Wyoming. “What’s (outside noise) mean? What’s it really mean?”

The Falcons were able to erase an early 14-point deficit against the Cowboys, and that type of resiliency is something that Air Force hopes to carry into the back half of its season.

“We just know who we are. We’re going to kick you in the teeth and we’re going to go at you, every play,” Falcons running back Owen Burk said. “Good things are going to happen, bad things are going to happen, but we’re going to keep moving forward and we’re never going to quit.

“I think that’s what we’re going to do the rest of the season.”

Air Force has won its first six games for the first time since 2002.

The Midshipmen’s spirits are also high after beating Charlotte 14-0 last Saturday. Although the 49ers ran 68 plays, Navy (3-3) held them to 265 yards while snagging a pair of interceptions.

Senior quarterback Tai Lavatai lasted just one offensive drive before exiting with a rib injury, forcing freshman Braxton Woodson to step in under center.
Woodson completed 5 of 14 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 58 yards on 18 carries.

With their 27-24 win over North Texas on Oct. 7, the Midshipmen have strung together back-to-back victories for the first time this season, but coach Brian Newberry understands there is plenty of work to be done if his team is going to hand Air Force its first loss.

“It’s awesome to win two consecutive league games. We got to find a way to be more consistent offensively,” Newberry said. “We’re going to have to score points to beat a team like Air Force. Everybody knows that.

“We got to go out and get better (and) put together a great plan.”

Saturday marks the 56th meeting, with the Falcons leading the all-time series 33-22. However, Air Force has struggled in Annapolis, going 9-12.

The Falcons are riding an 11-game winning streak dating back to last season, tied for the fourth-longest active streak in the country among FBS teams. It also matches the second-longest winning streak in program history.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2022; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; A general view of  Air Force Falcons helmets against  the Wyoming Cowboys during the third quarter at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force OL Hunter Brown dies at 21 from medical emergency

The Air Force Academy announced Tuesday that cadet Hunter Brown, an offensive lineman on the football team, died Monday at age 21.

Brown, a sophomore, suffered a medical emergency while leaving his dorm to go to class, the academy said. First responders were called to the scene to attempt life-saving measures on Brown but they were not successful.

“Our players, staff and entire Academy have been so blessed and fortunate to have Hunter as a part of our lives,” Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun said. “He was a pure joy to coach and have as a teammate. He was tough, a great worker, and no one unselfishly pulled harder for others than Hunter. His mom and dad, Candyce and Dustin, raised a wonderful son who made each of us a better person. We love our great brother, and our thoughts and prayers are with Hunter’s incredible soul and his family.”

Hunter, a native of Lake Charles, La., was listed as a center on Air Force’s football roster online. He did not see game action for the Falcons.

–Field Level Media

Dec 22, 2022; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Air Force Falcons safety Camby Goff (11) celebrates after tacking Baylor Bears quarterback Blake Shapen (12) for a loss during the first half in the 2022 Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force freezes out Baylor in Armed Forces Bowl

Hazziq Daniels threw for one touchdown and rushed for another Thursday night as Air Force pulled away in the second half for a 30-15 win over Baylor at the Armed Forces Bowl in frigid Fort Worth, Texas.

Daniels rushed 15 times for 81 yards in the Falcons’ triple-option ground game and threw efficiently, hitting 4 of 7 passes for 103 yards. Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year Brad Roberts added 116 yards and two scores on 37 attempts.

The teams kicked off with 13-degree temperatures and a wind chill of 4 below zero. It missed being the coldest bowl game ever at kickoff by one degree. However, the arctic conditions didn’t hamper the Falcons (10-3) as they finished with a 379-230 edge in total yards against the Bears (6-7), controlling the ball for more than 40 minutes.

Leading 9-7 at halftime, the Falcons used a 20 mph wind at their back to generate two third-quarter touchdowns. Daniels found Amari Terry for a 68-yard completion to the 2, setting up Daniels’ scoring run on the next play just 2:32 into the period.

Daniels upped the advantage to 23-7 with 2:29 left in the quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Rillos. Roberts tacked on the clinching score on a 1-yard run with 12:40 left in the game, the only points either team managed into the wind.

Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen struggled most of the night, hitting only 11 of 23 passes for 188 yards with two touchdowns. One score came on an 8-yard strike to Hal Presley with six seconds left in the first half and the other was a 14-yard connection to Gavin Holmes with 3:34 remaining in the game.

Air Force set an instant tone by producing points on its first two possessions. The Falcons melted nearly nine minutes of clock on their first drive with Roberts capping it on a 2-yard run at the 5:20 mark of the first quarter. Matthew Dapore hit a 37-yard field goal with 1:13 remaining in the opening period to make it 9-0.

–Field Level Media

Baylor's head coach Dave Aranda walks along the sideline at the game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Baylor’s Armed Services Bowl mission: Stop Air Force run game

One could say that Baylor coach Dave Aranda has returned to his roots for Thursday night’s Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force in Fort Worth, Texas.

Aranda will serve as his own defensive coordinator after canning Ron Roberts following the Bears’ 6-6 season. Aranda ascended to the Baylor job after running the LSU defense for Ed Orgeron during a 15-0 national championship season in 2019.

“You go into my office now, my desk, I’ve got fits and drawings all over,” Aranda said. “I remember those days. It used to be a clean desk. It’s not like that anymore.”

Playing against a true triple-option desk could turn even the most stringent neat freak into a messaholic. The Falcons (9-3) led the FBS in rushing, averaging 330.9 yards per game, and have the nation’s third-leading rusher in fullback Brad Roberts and his 1,612 yards.

Taking away the fullback in an option attack is always paramount, but even more so when you talk about Air Force. It’s 9-1 when Roberts runs for at least 100 yards. The only teams to hold him under three figures? Wyoming and Boise State.

“For our players, we have to inspire them to the point where they can execute the mundane, play after play after play,” Aranda said.

At the same time, the Bears can’t get caught rocking the mundane all the time. Falcons quarterback Haaziq Daniels averages more than 20 yards per completion and has accounted for 13 touchdowns — seven of which have come on the ground.

Air Force was seen by some before the season as being the Group of Five’s top candidate to earn a New Year’s Day bowl bid. But it was beaten in mid-September at Wyoming to end those hopes and then couldn’t win its division in the Mountain West Conference.

However, the Falcons still have a shot at a 10-win season, which is an impressive accomplishment at a service academy. And it would be a nice footnote to the fact they’ve already claimed the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy after beating Army and Navy.

“For us to be able to encounter someone like this for one game, our guys realize we are extremely fortunate to be in this situation,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said.

Baylor has won all three meetings between the two teams, but this is their first matchup since 1977.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2022; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Air Force cadets finish pushups following a score in the second quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force football gets probation for recruiting violations

The NCAA put the Air Force football program on probation for two years Thursday for recruiting violations during COVID-19 dead periods.

In addition to an unspecified fine, the Falcons also face reductions in official and unofficial visits as well as a cut in the size of the roster by 10 players for four years, per ESPN.

The Action Network first reported in May that the academy was under investigation for hosting high school prospects on campus during dead periods in 2020 and providing the recruits with improper benefits.

Four of the individuals involved in the investigation, reportedly including former defensive line coach Bill Sheridan, have reached an agreement with the NCAA enforcement staff about penalties. A fifth individual is challenging the allegations and faces a hearing with the Division I Committee on Infractions.

Air Force (3-1, 1-1 Mountain West) hosts Navy (1-2, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) on Saturday.

–Field Level Media