With Saturday's win, quarterback Max Hall earned his 30th career victory, a new program record. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
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PROVO -- Quarterback Max Hall and running back Harvey Unga rewrote the record books as the Cougars improved to 6-1 in Mountain West Conference play and 9-2 overall with a 38-21 win over Air Force at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday.
Hall surpassed former BYU great Ty Detmer on the Cougars' career win list with his 30th victory at the helm for BYU. Hall, 3-0 all-time against the Falcons, passed for 377 yards, throwing for 33-of-45 and five touchdowns, all new season highs. In addition, Hall's 377 yards passing and 371 yards of total offense propelled the senior past Cougar John Beck's MWC records of 11,021 career passing yards and 11,060 career total offense yards. Hall finished the game with 11,039 career passing yards and 11,227 yards in total offense with next week's game against Utah and a bowl game left to play.
"I'm glad I'm our coach and I'm glad [Max is] our quarterback," said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, who became the first BYU coach to lead the Cougars to four consecutive 9-2 records. "What he's accomplished hasn't been easy. I think and hope he is appreciated more when he's gone, but right now I think he's doing an amazing job."
In just his junior year, Unga set new BYU records for both career rushing yards and career rushing attempts, running past Curtis Brown for first place all-time. Needing 21 yards and four carries for the record, Unga broke the yardage mark on a 4-yard rush up the middle with 2:43 left in the first quarter, giving himself one yard more than Brown's 3,221 career yards.
Four plays later, Unga also took over the career rushing attempts record on a bruising 8-yard run. He finished the game with 67 yards on 11 carries.
"With Harvey healthy through the first half, we knew we'd have to use him," Mendenhall said, "That gave us the balance we were looking for. I really like, as you can see, when Harvey's healthy. We're able to run and throw the football and we're very hard to stop on offense."
Unga entered the game on the Cougars' second drive, rushing twice for 17 yards. Unga and Manase Tonga combined for all the Cougars' positive yardage upfield on the eight-play, 41-yard drive, capped off by Mitch Payne's career-high 49-yard field goal for the first points of the game. Payne's previous career-long was a 46-yarder last season at Air Force.
The BYU defense forced two turnovers that the offense would convert into two touchdown passes from Hall to senior tight end Dennis Pitta. The Cougars first capitalized on a fumble by Falcon quarterback Tim Jefferson recovered by linebacker Shawn Doman. Going 69 yards upfield, Hall hit Dennis Pitta in the corner for an 8-yard touchdown.
After defensive back Andrew Rich intercepted his second pass of the season, returning the ball 39 yards to the Falcon 16-yard line, Hall wasted no time again finding a wide open Pitta for the tight end's second touchdown, bringing the score to 17-0.
Pitta finished with 111 yards on nine catches and is now one reception shy of tying Austin Collie's BYU record for career receptions. It was the first game of 100 or more yards receiving for Pitta this season while his two touchdowns tied a career high.
"No plays were designed specifically for Dennis," Mendenhall said. "It's just how it worked out and how they played against us. Max did a really great job identifying Dennis when he was open and getting him the ball."
Rich added another interception on the last play of the first half, leading an inspired and emotional Cougar defense. Going into their game against BYU, Air Force had given up just seven turnovers all year and four in seven conference games. The Cougar defense equaled that total in the first 31:14 of play, claiming a fourth Falcon giveaway when Brett Denney forced the Falcons second fumble, recovered by Russell Tialavea.
Rich's two interceptions were twice as many as a Falcon quarterback has thrown all season.
"I thought we defended the option very well today and managed the points," Mendenhall said. "We got a lot of young players a chance to get in the game, but our safeties Scott Johnson and Andrew Rich made some huge plays for us today. They play with their hearts and I don't think there's a spot on their jerseys that isn't green."
Denney led the team with 13 tackles, while Johnson (11), Doman (11) and Jan Jorgensen (10) also had double-digit tackle totals. Jorgensen set a new record of his own in the first half, passing TCU's Chase Ortiz's MWC record for most tackles for loss in a career. Jorgensen now has 42.5 during his time as a Cougar.
On offense, Hall and the Cougars cut through what has been a stifling Air Force defensive side this season. The Falcons, second in the conference in scoring defense (14.7 ppg), pass defense (149.6 ypg) and total defense (285.1 ypg) coming into the game, had trouble stopping BYU, which finished with 38 points, 377 yards passing and 498 total yards.
Luke Ashworth grabbed Hall's third touchdown pass of the half on a short pitch-and-catch from nine yards out. Ashworth fought past a Falcon defender before reaching over the goal line for the score, giving BYU a 24-0 lead.
Sophomore wideout O'Neill Chambers caught his first touchdown of the season in the third quarter on a 10-yard slant play following Tialavea's fumble recovery, while tight end Andrew George finished the scoring, catching Hall's fifth and final touchdown throw in the back of the end zone from nine yards out with 5:23 left in the game.
Box Score (Final)
AF vs BYU Cougars (Nov 21, 2009 at Provo, UT)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
AF.................. 0 7 0 14 - 21 Record: (7-5,5-3)
BYU Cougars......... 3 21 7 7 - 38 Record: (9-2,6-1)
1st 06:00 BY - Payne,Mitch 49 yd field goal, 8-41 3:37, AF 0 - BY 3
2nd 13:57 BY - Pitta,Dennis 8 yd pass from Hall,Max (Payne,Mitch kick), 10-69 4:19, AF 0 - BY 10
11:46 BY - Pitta,Dennis 16 yd pass from Hall,Max (Payne,Mitch kick), 1-16 0:06, AF 0 - BY 17
05:15 BY - Ashworth,Luke 9 yd pass from Hall,Max (Payne,Mitch kick), 6-80 2:38, AF 0 - BY 24
03:15 AF - COUSINS, Josh 27 yd pass from COCHRAN, Ben (SODERBERG, Erik kick), 4-62 1:53, AF 7 - BY 24
3rd 13:24 BY - Chambers,O'Nei 10 yd pass from Hall,Max (Payne,Mitch kick), 2-43 0:22, AF 7 - BY 31
4th 14:18 AF - WARZEKA, Jonath 3 yd run (COCHRAN, Ben pass failed), 9-32 3:26, AF 13 - BY 31
05:23 BY - George,Andrew 9 yd pass from Hall,Max (Payne,Mitch kick), 11-72 4:38, AF 13 - BY 38
01:57 AF - STEPHENS, Savie 4 yd run (COCHRAN, Ben rush), 12-71 3:20, AF 21 - BY 38
FIRST DOWNS................... 18 26
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 56-212 25-121
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 88 377
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 22-5-2 45-33-2
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 78-300 70-498
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 1-4 2-1
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 7-143 4-68
Interception Returns-Yards.... 2-17 2-39
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 3-45.7 1-41.0
Fumbles-Lost.................. 3-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards............... 2-25 7-75
Possession Time............... 29:38 30:22
Third-Down Conversions........ 5 of 20 6 of 10
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 6 of 7 0 of 1
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 2-3 5-7
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 0-0 1-3
RUSHING: AF-TEW, Jared 19-82; COCHRAN, Ben 13-47; CLARK, Asher 9-35;
JEFFERSON, Tim 5-20; STEPHENS, Savie 4-13; WALKER, Nathan 1-10; WARZEKA, Jonath
5-5. BYU Cougars-Unga,Harvey 11-67; Di Luigi,Jj 5-29; Tonga,Manase 5-22;
Kariya,Bryan 3-9; Hall,Max 1-minus 6.
PASSING: AF-COCHRAN, Ben 5-18-1-88; JEFFERSON, Tim 0-3-1-0; CLARK, Asher
0-1-0-0. BYU Cougars-Hall,Max 33-45-2-377.
RECEIVING: AF-CLARK, Asher 1-29; COUSINS, Josh 1-27; QUINTANA, Sean 1-18;
FOGLER, Kevin 1-8; ESCAMILLA. Jon 1-6. BYU Cougars-Pitta,Dennis 9-111;
Tonga,Manase 5-63; George,Andrew 5-56; Jacobson,Mckay 3-73; Ashworth,Luke 3-22;
Hafoka,Spencer 3-17; Unga,Harvey 3-12; Chambers,O'Nei 2-23.
INTERCEPTIONS: AF-WRIGHT, Anthony 1-19; THOMAS, Chris 1-minus 2. BYU
FUMBLES: AF-JEFFERSON, Tim 2-1; COCHRAN, Ben 1-1. BYU Cougars-Hall,Max
SACKS (UA-A): AF-None. BYU Cougars-Jorgensen,Jan 0-1; Clawson,Coleby 0-1.
TACKLES (UA-A): AF-DAVIS, Jon 5-6; MORRIS, Andre 3-6; FALGOUT, John 5-3;
HYDER, Luke 5-3; MOORE, Justin 4-4; WRIGHT, Anthony 5-2; REMBERT, Reggie 5-1;
THOMAS, Chris 4-1; RICKETTS, Rick 3-0; MORALES, Myles 1-2; GARLAND, Ben 1-1;
HALL, Josh 1-1; CAMPBELL, Chris 1-0; CORCORAN, Brian 1-0; HUNTER, Mikel 0-1;
ESCAMILLA. Jon 0-1; MCWILLIAMS, Har 0-1; LAWAL, Olawale 0-1. BYU
Cougars-Denney,Brett 2-11; Johnson,Scott 4-7; Doman,Shawn 2-9; Jorgensen,Jan
3-7; Clawson,Coleby 2-6; Rich,Andrew 3-4; Logan,Brian 2-3; Pendleton,Jord 2-3;
Bauman,Matt 1-4; Hunter,Shane 1-3; Nelson,Grant 1-3; Bradley,Brando 2-1;
Fuga,Romney 1-2; Tialavea,Russe 1-1; Bills,Craig 1-1; Morgan,Blake 1-1;
Thomas,Steven 1-1; Ogletree,Brand 0-2; Atkinson,Jorda 1-0; Stephenson,Ril 1-0;
Team 1-0; Kariya,Bryan 1-0; George,Andrew 1-0; Hall,Max 1-0; Aguirre,Lee 0-1;
Putnam,Matt 0-1; So'Oto,Vic 0-1; Uale,Travis 0-1; Bell,Jeff 0-1.