USAFA -- BYU fell to 1-1 on the season after suffering a 35-14 defeat at Air Force on Saturday. The Falcons improved to 2-0 on the year.
After a solid first quarter, BYU lost the momentum and the early advantage as the Falcons went on to end the Cougars’ six-game winning streak in the series. The strong play of the Falcons' defense was noted by both coaches after the game.
"I was impressed with their defense," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "They played well, they had a good plan and they executed soundly. They deserved to win the game. They just played assignment football and played hard."
“I just thought our defense was absolutely special today," Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said. "After the initial drive, we probably played as well defensively against Brigham Young as we have maybe ever."
A sellout crowd of 46,692 attended the game, marking AFA's first sellout since hosting Notre Dame in 2006.
BYU claimed a 14-7 lead after the first 15 minutes. The Cougars took the opening kick and put touchdowns on the board on two-of-three possessions in the first quarter with junior running back JJ Di Luigi scoring on a 1-yard rush and junior quarterback Riley Nelson on a 4-yard keeper. Sandwiched between those two Nelson-guided drives of 74 and 49 yards, freshman quarterback Jake Heaps led BYU on a drive that covered 80 yards and finished in the end zone but did not result in any points.
On back-to-back runs of 17 and 43 yards, Di Luigi carried the ball for 60 yards on the drive but was stripped from behind at the 10-yard line on his second gallop. Air Force linebacker Parker Hennessey eventually recovered the loose ball in the back of the end zone for a Falcon touchback to end the BYU threat.
The Cougars were effective on the ground in the opening quarter, rushing for 139 yards after totaling 140 during their win against Washington a week ago. Di Luigi topped his previous career-best of 71 yards against Tulane last season with 76 rushing yards in the first quarter alone. BYU totaled 183 yards to AFA’s 105 in the quarter.
The Falcons scored on their first possession of the game on 32-yard pass from Tim Jefferson to Mikel Hunter and evened the score at 14 to open the second quarter with Jefferson running it in from the 5-yard line. Turnovers marred the rest of the half for BYU with Nelson fumbling after converting a third-and-six play while Heaps threw his first interception of the season on a first-and-10 call. The Falcons converted one of the two short-field possessions for points to earn the 21-14 halftime advantage.
Nelson rushed for 77 yards in the first half with Di Luigi adding 76 on the ground. Air Force held the total yardage edge with 234 yards to BYU’s 206.
In the third, Air Force scored on a 46-yard run on a fourth-and-two play to swing the momentum heavily in the home team’s favor. Junior receiver Jonathan Warzeka broke free on a wide pitch to take it the distance. A highlight during the quarter for the Cougars was a one-handed interception by senior linebacker Shane Hunter to end a Falcon possession, Hunter’s first career interception.
Air Force took command of the game with a touchdown in the early fourth quarter to take a 35-14 lead.
Nelson finished with 95 yards rushing, a career high, while throwing for 73 yards, completing 8-of-19 attempts. Heaps went 2-of-6 for 15 yards on the first half and did not play the second half. Di Luigi led all Cougar rushers with his first-ever 100-yard game, totaling 103 yards on seven carries while adding three catches for 25 yards. Freshman wideout Cody Hoffman added three catches for a team-high 37 receiving yards.
On defense, BYU senior safety Andrew Rich earned a career-high 14 tackles, two for a loss, while adding a forced fumble. Vic So’oto added 11 tackles while Hunter earned 10 and Jordan Richardson had nine, both marks also individual career highs.
BYU will play Florida State next Saturday in Tallahassee in a 3:30 p.m. ET start on ESPNU.
BYU (1-1,0-1) vs. Air Force (2-0,1-0)
Date: Sep 11, 2010 Site: USAFA, Colo. Stadium: Falcon Stadium
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
BYU................. 14 0 0 0 - 14
Air Force........... 7 14 7 7 - 35
1st 09:43 BY - DI LUIGI, JJ 1 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 12-74 5:17, BY 7 - AF 0
08:34 AF - HUNTER, Mikel 37 yd pass from JEFFERSON, Tim (SODERBERG, Erik kick), 5-61 1:05, BY 7 - AF 7
02:29 BY - NELSON, Riley 4 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 5-49 2:43, BY 14 - AF 7
2nd 09:42 AF - JEFFERSON, Tim 5 yd run (SODERBERG, Erik kick), 17-80 7:47, BY 14 - AF 14
05:17 AF - HUNTER, Mikel 33 yd run (SODERBERG, Erik kick), 2-48 0:36, BY 14 - AF 21
3rd 02:24 AF - WARZEKA, Jon 46 yd run (SODERBERG, Erik kick), 9-76 3:51, BY 14 - AF 28
4th 12:34 AF - WALKER, Nathan 5 yd run (SODERBERG, Erik kick), 5-45 2:15, BY 14 - AF 35
FIRST DOWNS................... 15 22
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 34-221 65-409
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 88 68
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 25-10-1 13-5-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 59-309 78-477
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 2-13 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 4-81 1-12
Interception Returns-Yards.... 1-0 1-1
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 6-29.3 4-41.5
Fumbles-Lost.................. 4-2 1-0
Penalties-Yards............... 7-45 10-125
Possession Time............... 23:01 36:59
Third-Down Conversions........ 6 of 15 10 of 19
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 1 of 2 2 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 2-2 2-3
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 1-5 0-0
RUSHING: BYU-DI LUIGI, JJ 7-103; NELSON, Riley 20-95; KARIYA, Bryan 7-23.
Air Force-CLARK, Asher 18-121; TEW, Jared 17-77; WARZEKA, Jon 6-62; HUNTER,
Mikel 2-53; JEFFERSON, Tim 9-38; WALKER, Nathan 7-28; HALDERMAN, Kyle 2-16;
JONES, Darius 1-9; SOUTHWORTH, Rya 2-7; TEAM 1-minus 2.
PASSING: BYU-NELSON, Riley 8-19-0-73; HEAPS, Jake 2-6-1-15. Air
Force-JEFFERSON, Tim 5-13-1-68.
RECEIVING: BYU-HOFFMAN, Cody 3-37; DI LUIGI, JJ 3-25; MUEHLMANN, Mike
1-13; ASHWORTH, Luke 1-8; QUEZADA, Joshua 1-4; KARIYA, Bryan 1-1. Air
Force-CLARK, Asher 3-8; HUNTER, Mikel 1-37; HALDERMAN, Kyle 1-23.
INTERCEPTIONS: BYU-HUNTER, Shane 1-0. Air Force-REMBERT, Reggie 1-1.
FUMBLES: BYU-DI LUIGI, JJ 2-1; NELSON, Riley 2-1. Air Force-TEW, Jared
SACKS (UA-A): BYU-SO'OTO, Vic 1-0. Air Force-None.
TACKLES (UA-A): BYU-RICH, Andrew 9-5; SO'OTO, Vic 3-8; HUNTER, Shane 5-5;
RICHARDSON, Jor 6-3; JORGENSEN, Aust 1-6; FRAZIER, Jameso 4-2; LOGAN, Brian 2-3;
PENDLETON, Jord 1-4; STOUT, Zac 2-1; UALE, Travis 2-1; BRADLEY, Brando 1-2;
FUGA, Romney 1-2; OGLETREE, Brand 1-1; MANUMALEUNA, Ea 1-1; THOMAS, Steven 1-0;
BRYSON, Thomas 1-0; HAGUE, Mike 1-0; PUTNAM, Matt 1-0; HOFFMAN, Cody 1-0. Air
Force-WAIWAIOLE, Jord 1-6; AMACK, Brady 4-2; RICKETTS, Rick 3-3; REMBERT, Reggie
3-2; HENNESSEY, Pat 3-2; DAVIS, Jon 2-3; MORRIS, Andre 3-1; LINDSAY, Brian 2-2;
ADEJI-PAUL, PJ 2-1; WRIGHT, Anthony 2-1; PAYNE, Zach 1-2; CHAMBERS, James 1-0;
REID, Colton 1-0; FREEMAN, Joshua 1-0; MCWILLIAMS, Har 1-0; GARDNER, Ryan 0-1;
HALL, Josh 0-1; KONEMANN, Caleb 0-1.
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