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Air Force off to best start since 1997

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Chance Harridge's career game
couldn't offset his disappointment at missing an open receiver in
the end zone.

Harridge ran for a career-high 161 yards and scored two of his
four touchdowns in Air Force's 21-point second quarter as the
Falcons beat Navy 48-7 Saturday.

Navy scored first, but Harridge had touchdown runs of 7 and 1
yards in the second quarter and added an 8-yarder early in the
third to help Air Force pull away. Harridge also hit 6 of 7 passes
for a career-high 107 yards, but all he could talk about afterward
was overthrowing Ricky Amezaga on a corner-post route in the first
quarter.

"I'm happy with that (game), but I'm not satisfied,'' said
Harridge, who also scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter.
"We're trying to be perfect here. We're down there trying to score
and we have to settle for a field goal. I make the right read and
the throw and we have a touchdown rather than a field goal.''

Air Force, the nation's second-best rushing team, ran for 429
yards to improve to 5-0, its best start since opening the 1997
season with seven straight victories. The Falcons also have won six
straight against Navy (1-4) and 19 of the last 21 meetings.

Air Force needs to beat Army on Nov. 9 to win the
Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the sixth straight year.

Navy, which has lost four straight after opening the season with
a win over SMU, continued to struggle with turnovers. The
Midshipmen led early after a 5-yard touchdown run by Kyle Eckel but
lost fumbles on their next two drives.

Tony Lane fumbled at the Air Force 44, leading to a 34-yard
field goal by Joey Ashcroft late in the first quarter. Wes Crawley
then picked up a bad pitch from Craig Candeto to Bryce McDonald and
returned it 52 yards for a touchdown to put Air Force up 10-7 early
in the second.

Candeto also threw an interception in the fourth quarter, giving
Navy 15 turnovers in its past four games.

"When we decide to self destruct, we're really, really good at
it,'' Navy coach Paul Johnson said.

The Midshipmen reached Air Force's 8 on their next drive, but
Candeto's shovel pass to kicker Geoff Blumenfeld fell incomplete on
a fake field-goal attempt.

Air Force followed with a nine-play, 92-yard drive, capped by
Harridge's winding 7-yard run up the middle. Harridge also had a
61-yard run during the drive.

Harridge made it 24-7 on a 1-yard sneak with 20 seconds left in
the first half. He had 146 yards on 14 carries in the half.

Air Force put the game away on its first drive of the second
half when Harridge ran for an 8-yard touchdown to cap a 72-yard
drive. He also hit Alec Messerall for 44 yards on the previous
play.

"The message was sent when we came out in the second half,''
Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said. "They had the ball and our
defense took them off the field in three. We got the ball in pretty
good field position and our offense took the ball and went right
down the field and got a score. I thought that really set the
tempo.''

Navy, one of the worst passing teams in the nation, went through
the air to set up the game's first score. Candeto hit Eric Roberts
for a 22-yard completion on Navy's first play, and hit Lane on a
22-yarder six plays later. Eckel capped the 68-yard drive with a
5-yard run up the middle.

Then the turnovers hit.

"We killed ourselves,'' said Candeto, who was 3-for-9 for 43
yards after the first drive. "We shot ourselves in the foot. The
second drive and the third drive, you just can't do those kinds of
things.''

Air Force is 22-4 in its last 26 non-conference games.

Crawley's fumble return for a touchdown was the first for Air
Force since Tim Curry ran one back against Army in 1997.

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