ANNAPOLIS, Md. >> Zach Abey threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Carmona with 15 seconds left, and unbeaten Navy defeated Air Force 48-45 Saturday after blowing a 21-point lead in the second half.
Despite allowing five touchdowns after halftime, Navy (5-0) took a huge step toward regaining possession of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, awarded annually to the team with the most wins in games between Army, Navy and Air Force.
The winner of the Navy-Air Force matchup has captured the trophy every year since 1997. Air Force won it last season after beating Navy 28-14.
In this one, after Arion Worthman threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Bennett with 1:53 remaining to put the Falcons up 45-41, Abey took the Midshipmen 75 yards in 11 plays for the go-ahead score.
That turned out to be the final salvo in a wild game in which Air Force (1-4) amassed 621 yards and Navy accumulated 557, including 471 on the ground.
Abey ran for 214 yards and two touchdowns, and Malcolm Perry contributed two long scores.
The Midshipmen converted a short punt and two Air Force fumbles into three touchdowns and a 28-10 halftime lead. After a 75-yard quarterback keeper by Abey made it 38-17 in the third quarter, Air Force rallied.
But the Falcons still came away with their fourth straight loss.
Worthman ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns, and he passed for 257 yards and two scores. But he fumbled twice, and both miscues led to Navy touchdowns.
Perry got the Midshipmen started with a 91-yard run and added a 40-yard touchdown catch late in the second quarter. The sophomore finished with a career-high 127 yards rushing.
Though Air Force leads the series between these two military academies 29-21, Navy has won 11 of the last 15.
AIR FORCE: This young, rebuilding team knows how to move the football. But the defense is a mess. The Falcons yielded 56 points at New Mexico last week and weren’t much more effective against Navy.
NAVY: The Midshipmen are poised to reclaim the CIC Trophy, and that might be only part of what they accomplish this season if they can get their defense together. Their performance in the second half was nothing short of embarrassing.
A stadium-record crowd of 38,792 watched. The previous record was for the Air Force game in 2013.
JARREN IN THE HOUSE
Jarren Jasper, 14-year-old son of Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper, was in attendance just two days after ending a lengthy and distressing hospital stay.
Over the summer, an operation to fix Jarren’s abnormally fast heart rate went awry. He went into cardiac arrest and had to be revived on the operating table.
Jarren left the hospital Thursday for the first time since Aug. 4. He is confined to a wheelchair and uses a battery-operated mechanical pump that enables his heart to deliver blood to the body.
AIR FORCE: The Falcons host UNLV next Saturday in a Mountain West Conference matchup. Air Force leads the series 14-6.
NAVY: The Midshipmen travel to Memphis in AAC action. Navy is 2-0 against the Tigers, winning 45-20 in 2015 and 42-28 last year.