DeBerry's Final Call of the Game Questioned

Air Force coach <b>Fisher DeBerry's</b> called timeout with 3.8 seconds to go in the game Saturday – with the Falcons ahead 17-10 – allowing Air Force to run up the score on Crowton and the Cougars on the final play of the game. Was it a good strategic move or a "classless" act on his part?

From my vantage point, it seemed more like a "classless" act. The final score was 24-10, Air Force's first victory in Provo in 21 years.

DeBerry told reporters after it was the "safe thing to do." Really?

He could have asked quarterback Chance Harridge to take a knee and run out the clock, but he didn't.

His quarterback, Harridge, in fact showed more class approaching the Cougar post-game defensive huddle after the game congratulating the BYU players for a valiant effort – a far cry from last season's smack-talking game.

It may come back to haunt DeBerry. Though it didn't happen, he should not forget a lesson from the 1999 UNLV-Baylor game, with the Baylor Bears leading 24-21 with 0:08 left at the UNLV 20.

Instead of taking a knee, Baylor tried to run it in for a superfluous score. Instead, Baylor running back Darrel Bush fumbled at the UNLV one yard line and UNLV defensive back Kevin Thomas scooped up the ball in the end zone and dashed 100 yards the other way, converting a 24-21 sure loss into a 27-24 Rebel road win.

Baylor coach Kevin Steele lamented afterward, "Hindsight is 20-20 and I know what the textbook says. There's no defense for it. It was just stupid on my part. We were trying to create an attitude of toughness and we tried to hammer it in. We should have milked the clock at the end. Instead, we went for the extra points. We played with fire and got burned. It was an expensive mistake."

DeBerry maintained with a straight face yesterday, "I wasn't trying to run it up if that's what you mean." Uh, OK coach, go blow your nose that just got six inches longer.

"I felt the safest thing for us to do, by goodness, was to try to get it in there," he said after the game. DeBerry claimed he was verbally abused by the BYU crowd on the way to the locker room following the game. "By gosh, nobody needs to call me the things I was called. Maybe I need to be a little bit tougher. I didn't appreciate that."

Gosh, sorry we hurt your feelings, coach. Didn't realize your sensibilities were so tender.

Given an identical situation next year with the tables reversed, I hope Crowton shows more class than DeBerry. DeBerry's act reflects poorly on a great institution he has represented so admirably for so many years.

Meanwhile, the Cougarland natives are certainly getting more restless.

For the second week in a row, BYU lost a game that was much closer than the final score indicated. The Falcons and Cougars were locked in a 10-10 tie until J.P. Waller beat BYU's Jernaro Gilford for a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chance Harridge with 8:05 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Statistically, you could call it pretty much a draw:
First downs: AFA - 17, BYU - 18
Net rushing yards: AFA – 194, BYU – 113
Net passing yards: AFA: 134, BYU – 193
Total offensive plays: AFA – 69, BYU – 72
Total net offense: AFA - 328, BYU 306
Time of possession: AFA – 31:26, BYU – 28:34
Third down conversions: AFA – 9 of 18, BYU 7 of 16

BYU, however, won the dubious prize for most penalties: AFA – 2 for 20 yards, BYU – 7 for 50.

If middle linebacker Mike Tanner holds on to his almost-pick, maybe that's the game.

If Jernaro Gilford's hand isn't in a soft cast when he dropped another sure interception, maybe that's the game.

If Marcus Whalen doesn't fumble the ball in an open field tackle with 6:20 left in the game with the Cougars on an offensive roll to tie the score, maybe that's the game.

If a young BYU offensive lineman doesn't totally whiff a block on a crucial 3rd down and 1 as the Cougars threaten again to tie the game, maybe that's the game.

The bottom line is the scoreboard final.

Next up is San Diego State next Saturday night at Qualcomm Stadium. Sportswest and the LDS church satellite system will televise the game immediately after the Priesthood session of the Church's semi-annual conference in Salt Lake City.

Scores and highlights yesterday from around the Mountain West Conference:

Utah 28 @ Colorado State 21

Utah's defense scored twice, including an improbable fumble return 80 yards for the winning touchdown as the Rams were setting up for a chip-shot field goal to win the game with 1:33 left.

Good thing their defense lucked out because the Ute offense was as bad as … well, as bad as BYU's, churning out a big 173 yards in the first half, and only 111 in the second, for a total of 284 yards of total offense.

The Rams, however, coughed up four fumbles and two interceptions, all but handing the game over to Utah.

First downs: CSU - 22, Utah - 16; Total Offense: Utah - 284, CSU – 389; Penalties: Utah - 5, CSU – 4; Possession: Utah - 27:44, CSU - 32:16.

In the final analysis, the Utes did what they had to do to win. BYU, meanwhile, couldn't buy a break right now.

Next: Oregon visits Utah Oct. 3. Oregon, which beat No. 3 Michigan last week, was humiliated at home yesterday by Washington State 55-16.

New Mexico 24, New Mexico State 17

The Lobos set a new attendance record with 44,075 in University Stadium to watch the in-state, non-conference rivalry.

The Lobos were stymied by quarterback Casey Kelly's three first half interceptions, but the Aggies' failed to convert them into points. They, nevertheless, led 14-7 at the half over the hometown Lobos. In the second half the Lobos forced three Aggie turnovers and converted them all into 17 points, while holding the Aggies to a single field goal.

Wyoming 17 @ Boise State 33

Quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie threw for 285 yards and four touchdowns as the Broncos bounce back from a loss last week at Oregon State.

Wyoming quarterback Casey Bramlet, meanwhile, was only 15-34 for 241 yards, and the Cowboys gained only 32 rushing yards.

BYU visits Wyoming Oct. 18, while Boise State comes to Provo on Oct. 30, a Thursday night ESPN game.

SDSU 10 @ UCLA 20

A ragged game, UCLA committed five penalties on its first three possessions, including back-to-back 15-yarders which moved the Bruins from first and 10 at the SDSU 41 to first and 40 at their own 19.

SDSU is now 18-0-1 against UCLA.

UNLV was idle.

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