Cougars on the Prowl

The third quarter ills that have plagued the Air Force Falcons throughout 2004 were never more evident than this afternoon. BYU unleashed a torrent of 21 third quarter points, to overcome a, 10-3, halftime deficit on their way to a lopsided, 41-24, victory in Mountain West Conference play.

Chris Field, AFAFalcons Staff WriterThe inconsistent BYU offense that hampered the Cougars in the first month of the season was nowhere to be seen in Falcon Stadium, as for a fifth consecutive game BYU unleashed an attack which produced more than 400 yards in total offense. BYU's 527 yard effort for the day was by far the team's best of the season. Ironically, the pivotal play in the game may have been a blocked punt, returned for a TD, which boosted the visiting Cougars to a victory that may head them toward an eventual bowl bid.

After BYU PK Matt Payne provided the only points of the opening stanza with a chip shot field goal, the Falcons used an interception and a fumble recovery to establish a 10-3 lead before the teams headed to their locker rooms at halftime.

The game's first TD came on a brilliant change of direction, 29 yard run by Darnell Stephens. QB Shaun Carney, who executed pitches poorly all day, threw a pitch to a trailing Stephens which was so far behind the halfback that by the time he stopped to corral it he had no choice but to reverse his field to avoid four BYU defenders. Traversing the entire width of the playing surface, Stephens found a wall of blockers to escort him into the end zone in unimpeded fashion.

BYU QB John Beck, who threw for 319 yards and 4 TDs on the afternoon, began the third quarter in style. In the first minute of play WR Curtis Watkins snuck behind AFA DB Jordan Wilkie and Beck's strong throw into a twenty mile per hour wind found his receiver in perfect stride. The scoring aerial was the first of four second half TD connections for Beck and delivered a blow from which the Falcons would not recover.

Later in the same quarter with AFA forced to punt from deep in its own territory, Falcons' punter Donnie Heaton mishandled a snap and once he recovered the loose ball, had his ensuing attempted punt stuffed and returned for a TD by Dennis Pitta. It was the third time in the Falcons' past two games the team allowed a blocked punt to be returned for a score.

The Cougars' onslaught on 38 second half points marked the second game of the year in which AFA had surrendered at least 35 points after intermission as the Cal Bears scored that many against Air Force during the Falcons' first game of the season.

In five home games this season, Air Force has failed to score a point in the third quarter on four occasions and its only third quarter points have come against division 1-AA Eastern Washington.

The game turned on a superb offensive performance by the Cougars in the third quarter in which they amassed 212 yards and scored 21 points. It could have been even more shattering given that BYU added another seven points just five seconds into the fourth quarter.

The AFA option attack played in a halting manner throughout the day and never established any momentum against a surprisingly effective BYU defense. A combination of uncharacteristic penalties, poor execution in the option game and the almost complete absence of a fullback game in the first half, conspired to limit the home team to a mere ten points while keeping BYU within striking distance.

The Cougars slashed the Falcons with a solid running game from Curtis Brown (128 yards) and Watkins' marvelous receiving effort (6 catches for 153 yards).

BYU held the Air Force ground game in check by yielding only 213 yards on 47 attempts. Stephens led the way for AFA with 61 yards and two TDs on the ground.

BYU raised its record to 4-4 on the year and 3-1 in the conference while Air slipped to 3-4 and 2-2.

Having lost two of its last three games at home Air Force hits the road for its next two games when it faces heated rivals Wyoming and Army.

Falcon Authority Top Stories