Football won't be the only matter of significance Saturday when the Navy Midshipmen host the Air Force Falcons in Annapolis, Md.
The game was rescheduled to fall on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The service academies plan to wear special alternate uniforms as part of a larger tribute to recognize the U.S. armed forces.
"Very humbling, both personally and as a program, to pay respect to those who lost their lives on 9/11," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Obviously, that day changed our country forever."
Navy's uniforms will honor the U.S. Marine Corps, while Air Force's will evoke B-52 bomber jets. The game will also receive the national broadcast treatment on CBS.
Saturday's game will mark the earliest point in the season that Navy and Air Force have met for their annual rivalry game, the first leg of the Commander-in Chief's Trophy competition. Both programs would like to win the trophy back from Army, which earned it in 2020 for the third time in four years.
Air Force opened its season with a smooth 35-14 win over visiting Lafayette. Falcons quarterback Haaziq Daniels ran for 72 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, while Brad Roberts led Air Force with 111 yards on the ground and Micah Davis added 101 yards and two scores on just four touches.
It may have only been an FCS opponent, but to Air Force, a win was a win.
"I think it's always good to get reps," Daniels said. "It's never a bad thing."
On the flip side, Navy was left looking for answers after Marshall came into Annapolis and trounced the Mids 49-7 in Saturday's season opener. Navy's defense allowed four rushing touchdowns to Marshall freshman Rasheen Ali in his collegiate debut -- three in the first half.
Navy quarterback Xavier Arline completed 2 of 3 passes for 26 yards and ran for 76 yards and his team's only score on 16 carries. He is expected to start for the Air Force game after replacing injured starter Tai Lavatai last week.
"In our mind, this game's over with," Niumatalolo said Saturday. "We ain't talking about it, we ain't watching the film. We've gotta get ready for Air Force. It's the biggest game of the year, obviously, until the last one at the end of the year (Army)."
© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.