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Kyle Chilton | Posted: 23 Oct 2004 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020
Kyle Chilton

Second-half Explosion Propels BYU over Air Force


COLORADO SPRINGS -- It was a tale of two halves as BYU scored 38 points in the second half to defeat Air Force, 41-24, on Saturday at Falcon Stadium. With the win, the Cougars take sole possession of second place in the Mountain West Conference at 3-1 and 4-4 overall.

BYU Coach Gary Crowton felt the team had a great overall game.

"Anyway we can get a win we're happy," Crowton said. "It was the first time this season we had a good combination of running and passing. Our defense just battled and they did a great job."

The 38 points were the most second half points scored by BYU in the Gary Crowton era.

After struggling in the first half, the Cougars finished with 527 yards of total offense, averaging 7.4 yards per play. John Beck completed 20 of 31 pass attempts for 319 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Dennis Pitta's only two catches were for touchdowns, the first giving BYU the lead for good.

Crowton was pleased with Beck's performance, especially his second half play.

"He's throwing to the right guy," Crowton added. "He seemed to be a little tentative in the first half so I told him to just have fun and be aggressive and he did it."

Todd Watkins was the top receiver of the day, catching six balls for 153 yards and one touchdown. Austin Collie, the nation's top freshman receiver, finished with six catches for 82 yards and one touchdown.

Curtis Brown led a rushing attack that racked-up 173 yards, finishing with 128 of his own on 22 carries. It was his third 100-yard game of the season, all coming in the last four games. The Cougars improved to 18-1 when BYU rushes over 150 yards.

Aside from allowing a few big plays, the defense played solid all game. Mark Staffieri led the way with 10 tackles while Aaron Francisco, Matt Bauman, and Cameron Jenson each had nine. Brady Poppinga had one sack and another tackle for loss and Shaun Nua had two sacks.

Air Force picked up 244 yards on the ground on 47 attempts. Darnell Stephens carried the ball 10 times for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Falcon quarterback Shaun Carney finished 10-for-22, 150 yards and one touchdown.

The Cougars struck first with 9:28 left in the first quarter on a 23-yard Matt Payne field goal. A 26-yard pass from Beck to Collie put the ball on the Air Force two but BYU was unable to find the end zone, having to settle for the field goal. Payne is now 10-for-10 on field goals longer than 40 yards, including 4-for-4 from 50 yards or more.

Air Force would not stay behind for long. After a Falcon punt, Beck threw a pass behind Daniel Coats that was intercepted by Bobby Giannini of Air Force. On the Falcon's first play, Darnell Stephens scored on an impressive 29-yard run for the touchdown, avoiding a swarm of Cougar defenders and changing directions to the opposite side of the field to beat the rest of the BYU defense.

The 7-3 lead was not enough for the Falcons, as they added a field goal moments later after recovering a fumble caused by a bad handoff between Beck and Brown on the BYU 40. Michael Greenaway hit a 48-yarder to put Air Force up 10-3.

The Cougars were a completely different team in the second half, scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter. The first came just 33 seconds after the kickoff, when Beck hit Watkins on a perfectly timed pass for a 70-yard touchdown, tying the score at 10.

"The momentum started to build after that big play to Watkins and we ended up having a pretty good game against a pretty good football team," Crowton said.

The big play put a fire under the offense, as BYU moved the ball almost at will throughout the second half. On the next drive, Beck took the Cougars into the end zone again with 6:29 to go in the third when he hit Dennis Pitta for an 11-yard touchdown pass to cap a four play 67 yard drive, giving BYU its first lead of the game at 17-10. Brown ran twice for 18 yards and Beck hit Fahu Tahi for 38 yards, setting up the touchdown.

The Cougars maintained the scoring barrage less than two minutes later when Gary Lovely recovered a blocked punt and took the ball eight yards into the end zone to extend the lead to 24-10.

Air Force continued to struggle late in the third quarter, having to punt on its next possession. This time, Donny Heaton avoided the BYU blitz and unleashed a 77-yard punt that went into the end zone for a touchback.

The long punt was not enough to keep BYU from moving the ball as the Cougars put together an eight play, 80 yard drive that ended with Austin Collie hauling in a 14-yard pass from Beck for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. The extra point by Payne tied him with Luke Staley for second all-time on the BYU scoring list with 290.

With the Cougars up 31-10, it appeared that Air Force was completely out of the game, but Carney would not let the Falcons go out quietly. He engineered a four play, 80-yard drive that included a 42-yard run by Kendrick and ended on a 26-yard pass to Greg Kirkwood, only his third reception of the season.

BYU answered the Falcon score with another Payne field goal, this one from 53-yards out with 11:09 remaining in the game. The field goal gave Payne 10 points in the game and 293 for his career, supplanting Staley for second all-time. He finished the game with 11 points and 294 for his career.

Down 34-17, Air Force cut into the lead again on another 80-yard drive that ended with Stephens scoring his second touchdown of the day on a seven-yard run. The point after cut the Cougar lead to 34-24.

The Falcon kickoff was mishandled by BYU and recovered by Air Force. A catching interference penalty gave the ball back the Cougars who again moved down the field. The drive appeared to be over after three plays but Payne made another big play, this time running the ball 20 yards for a first down. Five plays later and Beck found Pitta in the end zone for the second time of the day, this time on a fourth and goal play from the Air Force one.

With the win, BYU stands at 4-4 overall and 3-1 in the MWC. The Cougars will have a bye this coming week and will be back in action against San Diego State, Saturday, Nov. 6 at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Box Score (Final)

Brigham Young vs Air Force (Oct 23, 2004 at USAFA, Colo.)

Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score

----------------- -- -- -- -- -----

Brigham Young....... 3 0 21 17 - 41 Record: (4-4,3-1)

Air Force........... 0 10 0 14 - 24 Record: (3-4,2-2)

Scoring Summary:

1st 09:28 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 23 yd field goal

2nd 12:13 AF - STEPHENS, D 29 yd run (GREENAWAY, M kick)

10:08 AF - GREENAWAY, M 48 yd field goal, 4-5 0:57, BYU 3 - AF 10

3rd 14:27 BYU - WATKINS, Todd 70 yd pass from BECK, John (PAYNE, Matt kick)

06:29 BYU - PITTA, Dennis 11 yd pass from BECK, John (PAYNE, Matt kick)

04:26 BYU - LOVELY, Gary 8 yd blocked punt return (PAYNE, Matt kick)

4th 14:55 BYU - COLLIE, Austin 14 yd pass from BECK, John (PAYNE, Matt kick)

14:21 AF - KIRKWOOD, Greg 26 yd pass from CARNEY, Shaun (GREENAWAY, M kick)

11:09 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 53 yd field goal

07:56 AF - STEPHENS, D 7 yd run (GREENAWAY, M kick)

02:59 BYU - PITTA, Dennis 1 yd pass from BECK, John (PAYNE, Matt kick)


FIRST DOWNS................... 23 20

RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 39-173 47-213

PASSING YDS (NET)............. 354 150

Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 32-21-1 24-10-0

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 71-527 71-363

Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0

Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-27 0-0

Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 1-11 3-53

Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 1-4

Punts (Number-Avg)............ 3-42.3 7-42.3

Fumbles-Lost.................. 2-1 1-0

Penalties-Yards............... 9-70 9-70

Possession Time............... 30:33 29:27

Third-Down Conversions........ 3 of 12 4 of 15

Fourth-Down Conversions....... 2 of 2 0 of 0

Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 4-4 1-1

Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 3-20 4-26

RUSHING: Brigham Young-BROWN, Curtis 22-128; TAHI, Naufahu 6-36; PAYNE, Matt

1-20; HUDSON, Ray 1-2; Team 1-0; BECK, John 7-minus 5; BERRY, Matt 1-minus

8. Air Force-STEPHENS, D 10-61; KENDRICK, J 2-43; CARNEY, Shaun 18-42;

BUTLER, Anthony 6-26; SHAFFER, Dan 5-22; COLE, Adam 2-18; HOLSTEGE, Kris

1-6; HANDLEY, Justin 2-minus 1; FITCH, Adam 1-minus 4.

PASSING: Brigham Young-BECK, John 20-31-1-319; BERRY, Matt 1-1-0-35. Air

Force-CARNEY, Shaun 10-22-0-150; FITCH, Adam 0-2-0-0.

RECEIVING: Brigham Young-WATKINS, Todd 6-153; COLLIE, Austin 6-82; HARRIS,

Antwaun 2-36; PITTA, Dennis 2-12; BROWN, Curtis 2-9; TAHI, Naufahu 1-38;

COATS, Dan 1-26; HALE, Chris 1-minus 2. Air Force-WALLER, J.P. 3-32;

HANDLEY, Justin 2-15; BROWN, Jason 1-38; CHARRON, Chris 1-28; KIRKWOOD, Greg

1-26; MESSERALL, Alec 1-12; HOLSTEGE, Kris 1-minus 1.

INTERCEPTIONS: Brigham Young-None. Air Force-GIANNINI, Bobby 1-4.

FUMBLES: Brigham Young-BROWN, Curtis 1-1; BECK, John 1-0. Air Force-CARNEY,

Shaun 1-0.

SACKS (UA-A): Brigham Young-NUA, Shaun 2-0; POPPINGA, Brady 1-0. Air

Force-HODGE, Cameron 1-0; RUDZINSKI, John 1-0; SUDER, Beau 1-0; CARTER, Ryan


TACKLES (UA-A): Brigham Young-STAFFIERI, Mark 2-8; FRANCISCO, Aaro 5-4;

JENSEN, Cameron 4-5; BAUMAN, Matt 2-7; BURBIDGE, Jon 2-5; POPPINGA, Brady

2-4; NUA, Shaun 4-0; SOELBERG, Natha 2-2; CARLSON-MADDUX 2-1; MARQUARDT,

Mich 1-1; ALBA, MICHA 1-1; GABRIEL, Dustin 0-2; FEULA, Vince 1-0; AH YOU,

Matt 1-0; HARRIS, Antwaun 1-0; DENNEY, John 0-1; LUETTGERODT, Ju 0-1; PITTA,

Dennis 0-1; TAFUNA, David 0-1. Air Force-TAIBI, John 4-4; GIANNINI, Bobby

3-5; HODGE, Cameron 4-3; CARLSON, Mark 2-5; CARTER, Ryan 2-5; SUTTON, Chris

3-2; RUDZINSKI, John 3-2; BIRD, Carson 2-2; MADRID, Julian 1-3; ALLEN, Nate


0-2; SMITH, Kenny 1-0; BAXLEY, Jared 1-0; WILKIE, Jordan 1-0; BRALEY, Andrew

1-0; PEREZ, Gilberto 0-1; BROWN, Marcus 0-1.


Anonymous | Posted: 18 Oct 2004 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Cougars, Falcons to Battle for Second Place


PROVO -- Following a victory over conference rival Wyoming in Provo on Saturday, the Cougars (3-4, 2-1) will travel to Air Force looking for another conference victory. The Falcons enter the game with a .500 average, including a 2-1 league record. In its last game, Air Force defeated New Mexico 28-23. Last year the Falcons edged BYU, 24-10, in a game that was a lot closer than it appeared. The Cougars were driving deep into Falcon territory trailing by seven, but a fumble by running back Marcus Whalen dashed BYU's hopes of a comeback. Air Force added a touchdown as time expired to account for the final score.


The series between BYU and Air Force has become a lot more competitive over the last few seasons. The Falcons have won three out of the last five meetings, and the two teams have each own five wins in the last 10 games, but the series wasn't always this close. The series began in 1956 with BYU earning a 34-21 victory over the Falcons. The Cougars won sixteen of the first seventeen games, including 12 in a row from 1983 to 1994. Air Force broke through with a 38-12 victory in 1995 and has won five out of the last seven games. The last time the two teams met in Falcon Stadium, Air Force won soundly 52-9 behind the running of Chance Harridge. BYU head coach Gary Crowton has posted a 1-2 record against the Falcons with his only win coming in 2001.


KICKOFF: 1 p.m. (MST)

SITE: Falcon Stadium

TELEVISION (Local): ESPN-Regional; Trey Bender, Kelly Stouffer and Marie Anderson

LAST TEN: Even, 5-5

LAST FIVE: Air Force leads 3-2

RADIO (Local): KSL-Radio; 1160 AM (Greg Wrubell, Marc Lyons, Andy Boyce)


THE SERIES: BYU leads 18-6


LAST MEETING: Sept. 27, 2003 (AFA, 24-10)



BYU has two players from Colorado on its roster, John Denney (Thornton) and Nick Alletto (Parker). The Cougars also boast cornerback Brandon Heaney, who played quarterback on Air Force's J.V. team before transferring to BYU in 2000. Heaney will miss Saturday's game after suffering a broken arm against Wyoming.


BYU's projected starting offensive line averages an enormous 6-foot-4 and 312 pounds. They will face an Air Force defensive line that averages 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds. When the Falcons have the ball, Cougar defensive linemen that average 6-foot-4 and 293 pounds will face an Air Force front five that are listed at 6-foot-4 and 283 pounds.


After seven games, Matt Payne is seventh in the nation in punting with an average of 45.3 yards per kick. He has pinned opponents inside the 20-yardline 18 times. In the third game of the season, Payne booted a career-long and a then MWC record 79-yard punt. Unlike most punters, Payne likes to get into the thick of it during kick coverage. He had two highlight-reel quality hits against Boise State kick returner Chris Carr. On the season, Payne has racked up seven tackles on special teams, including six solo takedowns. Payne is no slouch as a kicker either. The senior from North Ogden, Utah has booted 10 of 12 field goals, including a perfect 9 of 9 from 40-yards or greater. His 46-yarder against Wyoming was his 12th straight make between 40 and 49 yards, tying him with John Carney who kicked 12 straight from that distance between 1984-85. On the season, there have been 30 field goals of 50-yards or more in the nation. Matt Payne has kicked three of those, including a 53-yarder against Notre Dame. He has also made all of his extra points this season.


Austin Collie has hauled in 37 passes for 437 yards on the season and leads the team in touchdown receptions with four. All four of his touchdown receptions have been 40-yards or more, including his latest which came on a half-back pass from Curtis Brown to help lead BYU past conference rival Wyoming. Collie is the nation's top-ranked freshman receiver, averaging 5.29 receptions per game.


Junior College transfer Todd Watkins has made an immediate impact for the Cougars. He leads the team with 707 receiving yards on 38 receptions, which is more than last year's receiving leader, Toby Christensen, had all season. He is second on the team in touchdown catches with three. He has caught touchdown passes of 69 and 79 yards on the season, leading Sports Illustrated to dub him the nation's top "deep threat." Watkins is second in the conference and 12th nationally in receiving yards per game with a 101 yard average. He torched the Boise State secondary, hauling in nine receptions for 211 yards including a 79-yard touchdown strike from John Beck. He has recorded a team-high three 100-yard receiving games on the year.


Despite a slow start, sophomore running back Curtis Brown has picked up the pace in his last three games. Over that stretch Brown has racked up 354 yards, including two straight games over 100 yards. His best performance came against Wyoming where he accumulated 230 yards (159 rushing, 40 passing and 31 receiving) and accounted for two of BYU's three touchdowns. On the season Brown has rushed for 457 yards and four touchdowns. Brown accounted for 230 of the Cougars' 416 total yards in the Cougars' 24-13 win over Wyoming. He carried 24 times for 159 yards, threw one time for 40 yards and had three receptions for 31 yards. He also scored one rushing touchdown on a nine-yard run in the fourth quarter to give the Cougars a 17-13 lead with 13:37 remaining in the game. Brown's touchdown run capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive. In the first quarter Brown accounted for 95 of the Cougars' 96 total yards, including 55 yards rushing and 40 yards passing. Brown connected with freshman receiver Austin Collie on a 40-yard touchdown strike to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead with 10:46 remaining in the first quarter. The game marked Brown's second straight 100-yard rushing performance -- the third of his career. Brown leads the team with 528 yards rushing, posting 354 yards rushing in the last three games. On the season, Brown is averaging 75.6 yards per game, while over the past three games, he has recorded an average of 118 yards per contest.


BYU enters its game against Air Force ranked fifth in the MWC and 65th in the nation in total offense. The Cougars are averaging 363.71 yards per game. Last week against Wyoming BYU's running game exploded for 237 yards rushing and is now ranked seventh in the conference in rushing. Quarterback John Beck is fifth in the conference in pass efficiency, recording a 107.44 rating. As a team, the Cougars rank third in the conference and 17th in the nation in passing, averaging 272.86 yards per game. BYU will face off against an Air Force defense that ranks sixth in the conference in total defense giving up 388.17 yards per game. The Falcons rank 93rd in the country and seventh in the MWC in rush defense giving up 193.50 yards on the ground, while they rank third in the conference in pass defense (194.67 YPG).


Defensively, BYU ranks fourth in the conference and 64th in the nation in total defense, giving up 371.43 yards per game. The Cougars rank second in the conference and 29th in the nation in rushing defense giving up just 112 yards per game on the ground. BYU will face a tough test against Air Force, who leads the conference and is ranked eighth in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 256 yards per game. The Falcons boast four players among the conference's top 16 rushers. BYU is ranked last in the conference in pass defense, giving up 259.43 yards a game through the air. Air Force is seventh in the conference in passing, accumulating only 145 yards per game.