Navy’s hopes of winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 2019 took a hit as they stumbled to a 17-6 loss against No. 22 Air Force on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The game was witnessed by a crowd of 38,803, a stadium record.
Navy’s offense had a horrible day, recording their lowest yardage (124) of the season and only managing a touchdown late in the game. Quarterback Tai Lavatai threw two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown by Alec Mock. Head coach Brian Newberry gave credit to Air Force, saying, “Hats off to Air Force. That’s a hell of a football team. We knew that going into the game. I thought they played lights out on defense. We didn’t do anything to help ourselves. It is what it is. We got our butts kicked on that side of the ball today.”
Navy struggled on third downs, going just 3 for 17, and had eight three-and-outs in 14 possessions. Their running game was limited to just 22 yards, the lowest since 1994. Starting quarterback Braxton Woodson had a tough day, completing only 2 of 6 passes and running for a net loss of 14 yards.
Freshman Braxton Woodson got the start due to an injury to Tai Lavatai, who aggravated a rib injury in the previous game. Lavatai replaced Woodson in the fourth quarter, and although he improved the offense’s performance, it wasn’t enough to secure a victory.
Larrier’s presence in the game was a surprise as he had been expected to be sidelined with an injury. He managed the game effectively, and Air Force secured the win. Newberry commented, “I counted on [Larrier] playing. [I have] been around long enough to know better, and truthfully, I hoped he would.”
In a mostly uneventful first half, the game’s only highlight was Air Force’s record-breaking touchdown. Kinamon sprinted down the field for 94 yards, making it the longest play from scrimmage in the history of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. It was also a record-long for Air Force.
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm, but Air Force managed to secure a comfortable win with a total of 288 yards. Air Force now has a chance to retain the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, having won it the previous season after Army’s two-year reign.
Navy now falls to 3-4. Ultimately, Navy will have to wait until next year for another shot at the coveted trophy. The game demonstrated the importance of defense, and Navy will need to use the upcoming bye week to once again regroup, and figure out how to win games.
The Midshipmen will take on Temple in Philadelphia on November 4, 2023. Navy is back home again on November 11th (3:30pm) against the University of Alabama – Birmingham.