Game Notes: Falcons Fly Into LaVell Edwards Stadium Saturday

Running back Harvey Unga ran for two touchdowns in BYU's 38-24 win over Air Force in 2008. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

FALCON-COUGAR MATCHUP IN PROVO

No. 22 BYU (8-2, 5-1 MWC) hosts Air Force (7-4, 5-2) in the first of two final regular-season games on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on CBS College Sports.

The Cougars are coming off a hard-fought 24-19 victory over the New Mexico Lobos last week, securing an undefeated road record for the first time since the 1984 national championship season.

Air Force comes to town for its final game of the regular season, coming off a 45-17 win over UNLV. The Falcons ran for a total of 431 yards against the Rebels, contributing to 557 total offensive yards.

ON THE TUBE

Saturday’s game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on CBS-College Sports. Tom Hart will call the action and Aaron Taylor will lend analysis. The game will mark the first of two BYU games available on CBS-C during the 2009 season. The Utah game next week will be simulcast on CBS-C and The Mtn.

WHAT THE GAME MEANS

- A victory on Saturday would give quarterback Max Hall a total of 30 career wins, surpassing Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer’s 29 wins and setting a new BYU record.

- Since Bronco Mendenhall took over the program in 2005, BYU has earned 9-2 records or better (through 11 games) in three straight seasons. Defeating Air Force would give the Cougars another 9-2 season record, marking the 17th time in program history and extending the current streak to four. Never before has a BYU coached led his team to four consecutive 9-2 records.

- Junior running back Harvey Unga needs just 21 yards and four carries to surpass Curtis Brown (2002, 04-06) as BYU’s all-time leading rusher in yards and attempts.

THE BYU-AIR FORCE SERIES

The Cougars hold an all-time record of 23-6 against the Falcons, most recently claiming a 38-26 victory at Falcon Stadium in 2008. Beginning with the first time the two teams played in 1956, BYU won 16 out of its first 17 match-ups against Air Force. The Cougars won 12 in a row from 1983-94 but have gone just 7-5 against the Falcons since the 1995 season. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is 4-0 all-time against Air Force, winning those games by an average of 19 points per game. The Cougars last lost a game home game to the Falcons back in 2003.

LAST TIME: BYU 38, AIR FORCE 26 (NOV. 15, 2008)

USAFA -- All-America candidate Austin Collie continued his record-setting pace with 130 receiving yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Max Hall threw for 354 yards to lead No. 14 BYU to a 38-24 win at Air Force on Saturday. With the victory the Cougars have achieved 10 wins for the third straight season. BYU improves to 10-1 overall and 6-1 in the Mountain West Conference while the Falcons fall to 8-3 and 5-2.

Collie, one of 10 receivers selected as a Biletnikoff Award finalist, totaled more than 100 receiving yards for the ninth straight game to extend his MWC record while setting the new conference mark for total 100-yard games overall at nine. With 1,315 receiving yards on the season, Collie is now BYU’s all-time single-season leader.

Collie was joined by tight end Dennis Pitta, who caught nine balls for 113 yards as the Cougars rolled up 354 passing yards among 480 yards of total offense. Air Force gained 323 yards on the ground and totaled 421 yards overall in the competitive contest.

Nixon led BYU in tackles with 10 while David Tafuna and Matt Ah You added nine apiece. Brandon Howard added an interception for the Cougars.

AIR FORCE’S LAST OUTING

AIR FORCE ACADEMY -- Asher Clark ran for career highs of three touchdowns and 160 yards and Air Force totaled 431 yards on the ground Saturday in a 45-17 romp over UNLV. Clark scored on runs of 40, 24 and 2 yards. He had his first 100-yard game of the season and surpassed his career best of 131 yards.

Jared Tew, Savier Stephens and Nathan Walker also ran for touchdowns. Air Force (7-4, 5-2 Mountain West) won its third in a row. Tim Jefferson threw for 126 yards and ran for another 63 yards.

The game matched the Air Force, the nation’s fourth-best rushing offense, against a team that ranked 111th of 120 FBS teams against the run.

COUGAR-FALCON TIES

- There are five Colorado natives on the BYU roster--defensive lineman Brett Denney (Thornton), tight end Andrew George (Englewood), defensive back Blake Morgan (Greeley) and offensive linemen Nick and Terrance Alletto (Parker).

- Air Force running back Jared Tew hails from Park City, Utah and graduated from Park City HS.

BYU’S LAST OUTING

ALBUQUERQUE -- Max Hall tied Ty Detmer for the most career wins by a BYU quarterback as the No. 22 Cougars improved to 8-2 for the fourth straight season with a 24-19 road victory at New Mexico on Saturday.

Hall passed for more than 300 yards for the seventh time in 10 outings this year, totaling 314 yards and two touchdowns while guiding BYU to its 29th win with Hall behind center. Having previously passed the other great quarterbacks in BYU’s storied history in total wins, Hall now has the chance to make the mark his own when BYU faces Air Force next Saturday in LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Hall’s achievement was not the only all-time standard set on the day. With the win, the Cougars have achieved an 8-2 or better record four straight years for the first time in program history. Three other times the Cougars put together a string of three consecutive 8-2 starts, the most recent being in the Detmer era from 1988-90. BYU teams also accomplished the feat from 1979-81 and from 1983-85.

Saturday’s game in Albuquerque proved to be a hard-fought contest down to the wire with a few unique twists along the way. The first of the twists started Friday night when Cougar tight end Andrew George returned to Provo to witness the birth of his first child and then caught an early flight back in time to not only play in the game but also make a touchdown reception.

On the Lobo side of the ball, New Mexico kicker James Aho had the unique distinction of hitting the goal post upright with three consecutive attempts—none of which fell on the Lobo side of the cross bar.

COMPETING AS A RANKED TEAM

With the New Mexico win the Cougars improve to 156-46 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. A ranked BYU team has won 25 of its last 30 games dating back to 2006.

COIN TOSS

New Mexico won the coin toss last week and elected to receive, marking only the fourth time this season the Cougars have not won the toss. BYU is now 4-0 when losing the toss.

PULLING OUT THE CLOSE ONES

After a close 24-19 victory over the Lobos last week the Cougars have won 10 consecutive games decided by seven points or fewer. BYU pulled out a narrow 14-13 win against No. 3 Oklahoma in its season opener.

DON’T LOOK BACK

In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 40-4 when leading at halftime and 38-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.

Mendenhall’s teams have won 26 straight games when leading by at least 14 points at the halftime break, 73 overall as a team. The last time BYU lost a game after leading by at least 14 points at the half was on Oct. 10, 1987 when it lost, 29-27, in its homecoming game against Wyoming.

8-2 THROUGH 10 GAMES

With the win last week, the Cougars have an 8-2 record or better through their first 10 games for the 21st time in program history. BYU has now achieved 8-2 records in a program-best four consecutive seasons (2006-09). The team reached three straight 8-2 records or better three times previously—1979-81, 1983-95 and 1988-90.

“FAN”TASTIC FANS

The 64,601 fans in attendance for the Cougars’ 38-7 loss to TCU marked the 16th consecutive sell-out at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The current streak marks the longest streak of consecutive sellouts since the 1990-92 seasons. In three games this season BYU is averaging 64,251 fans per game. The last time the stadium was not sold out was against New Mexico on Nov. 18, 2006 when 63,814 fans were in attendance—231 short of a sellout.

TALE OF THE TAPE

BYU’s starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 317 pounds and average 6-feet-4. The front five will be going up against an Air Force defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-3, 266 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars front three average 6-feet-3, 262 pounds, while the Falcon offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-5, 311 pounds per man.

HE WHO SCORES FIRST...

New Mexico was the first to score last week on a Donovan Porterie 3-yard run with 8:43 remaining in the first quarter. BYU opponents have been the first to score in five games this season, the others being Oklahoma, Florida State, Utah State and TCU. The Cougars are 3-2 in those five games.

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSIONS

The Cougars lead the nation in third-down conversion percentage, converting a total of 74-of-127 attempts. In its eight wins this season, the offense converted 62-percent of its third-downs.

DOUBLE THREAT

With his 10-yard reception with 6:35 remaining in the third quarter against SDSU, junior running back Harvey Unga became one of only nine Cougars to record over 1,000 career yards through the air and on the ground. Unga currently has 1,058 yards receiving and 3,201 yards rushing.

Other Cougars who accomplished this feat are Curtis Brown, Jamal Willis, Lakei Heimuli, Luke Staley, Hema Heimuli, Todd Christensen, Scott Phillips and Fred Whittingham.

UNGA REACHES 3,000 YARDS

After running for 123 yards against No. 8 TCU, Unga reached the 3,000 career yard mark, making him only the second Cougar to do so. Curtis Brown leads BYU all-time with 3,221 yards on the ground (2002, 2004-06). Unga currently has 3,201 career yards.

HALL TIES DETMER’S WIN RECORD

With the Cougars’ 24-19 win over New Mexico, senior quarterback Max Hall now has 29 career wins as the starting play-caller for BYU, tying Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer on BYU’s all-time list, who racked up 29 wins during his career from 1988-91.

SCORING HALL PASSES

Quarterback Max Hall recorded two touchdown passes against New Mexico, giving him 23 on the year. Those 23 touchdown passes have been to nine different members of the BYU receiving corp. Hall has now thrown a touchdown pass in 33-of-36 career games for a total of 84.

10,000 YARDS PASSING

Hall’s 314 yards passing against New Mexico give him 10,662 career passing yards, third-most in BYU program history. The only other two BYU quarterbacks to have ever surpassed the 10,000-yard mark were John Beck (2003-06) with 11,021 and Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer (1988-91) with 15,031.

REWRITING MWC RECORD BOOK

After throwing four touchdown passes against Wyoming, Hall became the MWC leader in career touchdown passes, surpassing former Cougar John Beck who had 79. Another one of Beck’s league record was broken during the Wyoming game--his 17 career 300-yard passing games. Throwing for 312 yard versus the Cowboys, Hall achieved his 18th 300-yard passing game. After the New Mexico game he now has 19 300-yard games and 84 touchdown passes.

CONSECUTIVE STARTS

The New Mexico game marked senior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s 49th straight career start. During that streak, Jorgensen has started every game of his collegiate career and set a new MWC all-time career sack record in 2008 with 22.5. Jorgensen’s first career start came against Arizona on Sept. 2, 2006.

FUMBLE RECOVERIES

Senior linebacker Shawn Doman recovered a Wyoming fumble in the third quarter, forced by defensive back Brandon Bradley. With the BYU offense back on the field, Max Hall led a four-play, 38-yard scoring drive, capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass to JJ DiLuigi to give the Cougars a 45-0 lead.

The Cougars have now recovered six fumbles in 10 games.

BLOCK PARTY

Defensive back Andrew Rich kept the Lobos from scoring a late field goal to end the first half last week after blocking a 46-yard attempt. It marks the junior’s first career block. As a team, BYU has blocked two kicks this season. The first was a blocked punt by sophomore Matt Marshall in the USU game.

PAPER OR PLASTIC?

The Cougar defense recorded a season-high four sacks against New Mexico, the team’s most since getting five in a 34-14 win at Utah State in 2008. Linebacker Jordan Pendleton recorded the first two sacks of his career during the UNM game, for losses of seven and 10 yards, respectively. Andrew Rich picked up a sack with 7:00 remaining in the third quarter for a loss of one yard. Defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen and linebacker Coleby Clawson recorded back-to-back sacks as the Lobos attempted a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.

Collectively the Cougars have recorded 22 sacks in their 10 games this season.

COUGAR PICKS

Defensive back Brian Logan intercepted his third pass of the season with 5:32 remaining in the third quarter against Wyoming. True freshman Craig Bills picked off his second career interception with 2:36 to play in the game for a 24-yard return.

The Cougar defense has snagged 10 interceptions through 10 games.

IT’S BEEN A WHILE

BYU has been unable to return a kickoff for a touchdown for 141 consecutive games. Mike Rigell was the last Cougar to accomplish the feat, turning in a 96-yard touchdown in a 31-9 victory at Hawaii on October 17, 1998.

The last time BYU returned a punt for a touchdown was back on Nov. 9, 2006 when freshman McKay Jacobson ran one back 77 yards. Thirty-nine games have passed since then.

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