MWC Wrap-up Week #6

Six weeks into the season and the Mountain West Conference teams are well into their annual tradition of beating on each other with little regard to previous record or media predictions.

BYU 27, New Mexico 24.

Improvement is good. After a week of lethargy the BYU offense showed some life. Quarterback John Beck completed 15 of 21 for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, but the defense gave up the big play to help the Lobos to a 21-13 halftime lead. New Mexico took possession to start the second half and the Cougars elected to play into the wind in the third quarter in order to have it with them in the fourth, which proved to be crucial.

The Lobos' opening second half possession ended on a punt from midfield after the BYU defense stiffened, and the Cougars took over at their own 10 yard line. A nicely executed drive moved the Cougars into scoring possession, but Beck overthrew Matt Allen at the goal line and the Lobos intercepted. From there, Lobo quarterback Kole McKamey ran passed and ran all over the Cougars, leading them on a 91-yard drive, but it faltered at the seven and New Mexico settled for a field goal to go up 24-13. BYU could not move the ball, however, and after a punt the Lobos again marched down the field. They were on the verge of putting the game away with 12:32 remaining when McKamey fumbled at the BYU six yard line. It proved to be the turning point in the game.

The Cougars drove 94 yards, culminating in a nine-yard touchdown run by Curtis Brown. The two-point try failed, leaving BYU down 19-24, and aided by two pass-interference penalties New Mexico was nearly to mid-field and consecutive victories over BYU for the first time in over thirty years. The defense held, however, forcing a punt which bounced into the end-zone.

From there it was the BYU of old: Beck to Harline for 11, clock stops. swing pass to Meikle for two, but he stays in bounds, pass to Watkins for a 30-yard catch and run, clock stops, pass to Brown for 15 to the 22, clock stops, and a pass to Allen for the score with. Now leading 25-24, the Cougars went for two on the lob to Watkins in the corner. New Mexico was flagged for interference, giving the Cougars a shot from the one-and-a-half yard out, from where Curtis Brown powered it in for a 27-24 lead. The only fly in the ointment was, like BYU of old, they scored too fast, using only 1:08 and leaving 1:40 on the clock and New Mexico with three timeouts.

The Lobos faced a stiff wind, however, and even with three timeouts they could not afford to grind it out on the ground. The first pass was wide to Baskett, incomplete. On second and 10 a five-yard completion stayed in bounds and New Mexico took its first timeout of the half. A short pass to Hank Baskett gained a first down and included a face mask penalty to boot, and the Lobos were feeling good at their own 47 with over a minute and two timeouts remaining A shot downfield was incomplete, as was a second down pass. On third and 10 from their own 47 McKamey threw for six to his tight end, who got out of bounds at the BYU 47. On fourth and four and 0:45 remaining McKamey's pass was batted away by Dustin Gabriel and the deal was effectively sealed. Beck knelt down three times and an amazing turnaround was complete.

Consider that without McKamey's fumble the Cougars would have been 1-4, all alone in last place, the only MWC team not to have won a conference game, and Bronco Mendenhall would still not have beaten a Division I-A team. Instead the team is 2-3, in a four-way tie for fourth, and plays its next two conference games at home.

Beck threw for 375 yards on 33 of 43, and Curtis Brown carried 20 times for 103 yards. Joe Semanoff, playing for a suspended Fahu Tahi, carried once for six yards and had two catches for 25 yards, including a big touchdown the keep the Cougars close in the first half. Eleven Cougars caught passes, led by Johnny Harline with 10. The defense gave up 462 yards, but proved just barely tough enough.

Next up: for BYU, vs. CSU. For New Mexico, at Wyoming.

TCU 28, Wyoming 14

TCU won at Laramie to solidify possession of first place in the MWC, but wasn't as dominating as the final score indicated. The teams competed to give the game away, and in the end Wyoming came out on top, errr, bottom. The Horned Frogs most valuable player was Wyoming quarterback Corey Bramlet, who threw four interceptions and fumbled the ball away three more times. Consequently, TCU had three scoring drives of less than 20 yards, and ran a fumble in for a score from 22 yards out. The net result was 28 points on only 245 yards of total (that's right, total) offense. Nevertheless, the Frogs are now 4-0 in conference with the hardest part of their schedule behind them.

Next up: for TCU, vs. Army. For Wyoming, vs. New Mexico.

Colorado State 21, Utah 17.

Utah had it shots and couldn't get it done, giving up 18 points in the fourth quarter. Most devastating was the game's final possession. After a CSU go-ahead touchdown the Utes took the ball at their own 20, needing only 80 yards for the win. They got 79 yards and 35 inches with two downs to spare. From there, Ute quarterback Brian Johnson kept the ball and, from some angles, appeared to get in, but after review the officials waved it off and placed the ball at the 1-inch line. On fourth down Quinton Ganther was stuffed and the game was over. Utah outgained the Rams 416 to 384, had one more first down and nearly seven more minutes of possession, but were flagged eight times and threw two interceptions to lose a close one. After a horrendous start the Rams are the only team other than leader TCU not to have lost a conference game.

Next up: For Utah, vs. SDSU. For CSU, at BYU

Navy 27, Air Force 24.

The Falcons have now lost four straight after winning their first two, and were once again plagued by their kicking game. Air Force never trailed in this one until Joey Bullen's 46-yard field goal cleared the crossbar with one second left on the clock. The Falcons led by 10 when Donny Heaton punted the ball into Navy's end zone with 4:00 left in the game. The Middies had worked the ball out to their own 31 when quarterback Lamar Owens found running back Reggie Campbell for a 29-yard gain. On the next play Campbell broke loose for a 40 yard run, tying the score. Air Force picked up only six yards and was forced to punt from its own 26 with less than forty seconds left, when disaster struck. Heaton shanked a punt for 9 yards, giving Navy a short field which led to the winning field goal.

Next up: Air Force vs. UNLV.

UNLV 13, SDSU 10.

San Diego State has a long tradition of following up a big win with an inexplicable loss, and they came through again. A week after beating a listless BYU squad 31-10 the Aztecs traveled to Las Vegas, where two mighty foes racked up 381 yards of offense between the two of them. Even worse for the visitors, only 140 of those yards belonged to SDSU. The Aztecs' only touchdown came courtesy of the defense, an 86-yard touchdown return by Joe Martin. A week after SDSU converted third downs at will against the Cougars, they were an amazing 0-15 against the Rebels. UNLV's Sergio Aguayo hit two wind-aided 52-yard field goals within five minutes to pull out the win, the latter with only nine seconds on the clock.

Next up: For UNLV, at Air Force. For SDSU, at Utah

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