Navy 7

(1-4, 1-1 away)

Air Force 48

(5-0, 3-0 home)

3:00 PM ET, October 5, 2002

Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO

1 2 3 4 T
NAVY 7 0 0 07
AFA 3 21 10 1448

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.