. The Air Force
Falcons jumped to a two TD lead over the ending
MWC champion Utah
Utes on the strength of two
first quarter TDs from freshman QB Shaun Carney
The Falcons began the game with an impressive 81
yard drive in which AFA gained 43 yards on the
ground and another 38 through the air--all of
them coming on a third and one completion to
halfback Kris Holstege--to the Utah 12 yard
line. Carney ended the drive with the first of
his three touchdown runs on the day. Air Force
held a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
When Carney strutted 47 yards in the second
quarter to provide the Falcons a 14-0 lead, the
Utes' balanced attack, led by QB Alex Smith
Johnson, began to mesh. Johnson put the Utes on
the scoreboard with 9:43 remaining in the first
half with his first TD jaunt of the day.
After forcing AFA to punt the ball, Smith found
WR Paris Warren with a 65 yard TD pass to tie
the game with 3:42 to play in the opening half.
The long scoring aerial opened a stretch of the
game in which Utah scored five unanswered TDs in
the space of ten minutes and two seconds.
On the Falcons' first play
scrimmage after the Warren scoring bomb, HB
Anthony Butler--making his first carry in two
weeks' time--fumbled the ball at the Air Force
twenty yard line. Utah converted that Air Force
miscue into a Smith TD run with 1:54 to play in
the first half in front of a Homecoming crowd.
When AFA PK Michael Greenaway
missed a 49 yard
field goal attempt on the final play of the
second quarter, Utah took a 21-14 lead into the
Utah carried its momentum into the second half
taking the opening kickoff and marching 80 yards
in 2:45 to open its lead to 28-14. When Utah
forced the Falcons to punt on its ensuing
possession, kicker Donny Heaton--who had earlier
boomed an AFA and MWC record setting 90 yard
boot--had his effort partially blocked by Utah.
Urban Meyer's squad continued its relentless
barrage of points by cashing in that piece of
special teams' brilliance with a TD with 8:40
remaining in the quarter.
Air Force mounted its own rally on a drive which
included a 37 yard reception by WR Alec
Messerall moving the ball to the Utah 8 yard
line. Carney hit TE Carsten Stahr
with a seven
yard TD pass to pull AFA to within, 35-21, with
5:28 to go in the third quarter.
Utah's next possession began at its 27 yard line
and proved to be short lived when Falcon Back
Denny Poland stripped the ball away from a Utah
player and DB Mark Carlson
recovered for the Falcons. Air Force took full
advantage of its defense's opportune play when
Carney scampered three yards for his third TD of
the game with 3:14 remaining in the third
quarter to pull the visitors to within seven
points of Utah at, 35-28.
When Utah couldn't move the ball and was forced
to punt it back to Air Force, the Falcons set up
shop at its 22 yard line to begin what it hoped
would be a game tying drive. A fumble by Carney
was recovered by the Utes at AFA's 42 yard line
and Smith once again turned to Johnson, who
produced a two yard blast, to cap a TD drive
which gave Utah a 42-28 lead early in the fourth
Johnson scored again four and a half minutes
later to move Utah into a comfortable 49-28
margin. Air Force closed the scoring when QB
led a drive which culminated with a
TD by Eddie Moss
on a 5 yard run in the final
minute of play.
The teams combined for 976 yards of offense with
Utah amassing 505 of that figure. Air Force
countered with a season high 302 yards rushing
and its third straight game in which the team's
FBs produced more than 100 yards on the ground.
Shaun Carney continued his impressive start to
his college career as he had a hand in the
Falcons' first four touchdowns. He completed 9
of 13 passes for 158 yards and 1TD. Through his
first four games as a true freshman, Carney has
completed 40 of 57
for a 70.17% completion rate, thrown 6 TD passes
and just two interceptions. He's added 296
yards rushing on 76 carries and 4 TDs.
Utah has opened the season with a 4-0 record,
soared to 14-2 under Meyer while assuming first
place in the MWC this season and will head to
to face the Lobos next Friday. Air
Force will face a short week of practice before
at home on Thursday night as the
battle for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy
begins for 2004. Air Force dropped to 2-2 on
the season with both losses coming against
nationally ranked teams, Cal and Utah.