ARLINGTON, TX – Jabari Moore’s heroic pass break up in the end zone helped push the Army West Point football team past Air Force to a 21-14 result in the Lockheed Commanders’ Classic presented by USAA on Saturday afternoon.
The win, which was earned at the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field, assures that the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy will remain at West Point for another year, as both the Black Knights (5-3) and the Falcons (6-3, 3-2 Mountain West) are now tied in the CIC standings with one victory apiece. Army will have a chance to outright win the trophy during its game against Navy (Dec. 11).
Both offenses were a little slow out of the gate in the first neutral site game between the teams since 1965. Though Andre Carter II forced a fumble on the Falcons’ opening drive, Air Force prevented the turnover by making a recovery. The first three drives of the contest ended in punts and neither side was able to get anything going until the end of the first quarter when Anthony Adkins made a diving play to extend a seemingly-stalled drive on fourth-and-one. Adkins’ punch allowed the team to eventually get into field goal range, but Cole Talley’s 26-yard attempt went wide right to keep the game scoreless.
The offensive struggles continued after the first break, as each team punted away its first possession of the second quarter. Air Force started to gain momentum on its next drive and charged 53 yards down the field to Army’s 27 before the tandem of Kemonte Yow and Malkelm Morrison made a huge fourth-down stop to kill the drive.
Ultimately, the clock wound down on the first half before either team could score. Army took a 119-88 advantage in total yards into the locker room in just their second scoreless opening half of the year (vs. Wisconsin, Oct. 16).
The break was a welcomed reprieve for the Cadets, who used it to kickstart their offense.
Coming out of the half, Tyrell Robinson provided a spark when he made a 31-yard return on the kickoff, his second longest of the season. The drive, which was additionally boosted by a 39-yard dime from Tyhier Tyler to Robinson, ended in Army’s first touchdown of the day when Tyler punched in a nine-yard run. His 10th career rushing touchdown put the Black Knights up 7-0.
With the ball back in their hands, the Falcons attempted to string together a response.
Though Yow and Morrison came up with another big stop on third down, Air Force converted the ensuing fourth-and-one to prolong the drive, which ultimately ended in a 39-yard field goal that cut the lead down to 7-3.
Having found its groove, Army’s offense continued to have success on its next possession as Christian Anderson connected a 79-yard touchdown pass with Tyrell Robinson on the second snap. Anderson’s season-long passing strike re-extended the Black Knights’ advantage to 14-3.
The momentum continued to favor the Cadets when Air Force got the ball back. After a pair of completed passes, Carter tipped a ball in the air to Cameron Jones who returned his interception for a career-long 48 yards before the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Falcons were able to control the pace of play for the first time all day. After being kept from the end zone for seven drives, Air Force punched in a four-yard run and used a two-point conversion to trim Army’s lead down to one possession at 14-11.
The Falcons quickly got the ball back and used the final five minutes on the clock to storm down the field. A penalty took some of the wind out of their sails, bringing the ball back out of the red zone, but a 30-yard Falcon field goal tied the game up at 14-14 and sent the action into overtime.
Appearing in its first overtime game since a 2019 contest at Michigan, Army needed just five snaps to arrive on the Falcons’ doorstep. Though all appeared lost when Anderson fumbled the ball on the edge of the end zone, a massive recovery by Jordyn Law helped the team get the touchdown and handed the Black Knights a 21-14 lead.
While the offense’s effort put Army on the edge of victory, the defense brought it home. Carter came up with a sack for a loss of seven yards on the Falcons’ second play of their overtime possession and though Air Force was able to get within striking distance, a huge pass breakup by Jabari Moore in the end zone preserved the Cadets’ win.
With Saturday’s result, Army has now won four of its past five dates with Air Force and is close to winning the program’s 10th outright CIC Trophy.