3:00 PM ET, September 27, 2003
LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT
PROVO, Utah (AP) -- For the first time in 21 years, Air Force had something to celebrate on the way home from Brigham Young.
Chance Harridge ran for two touchdowns and passed for another and Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry got his first win at BYU as the Falcons beat the Cougars 24-10 Saturday, Air Force's first win in Provo since 1982.
"It's a great place to be," said Harridge, who ended the game with a touchdown from inside the 1 as the clock expired.
The late touchdown irked Cougar fans and a few of them let DeBerry know it after he left the field.
DeBerry, who had been 0-7 in Provo, defended the call and said he wasn't taking any chances even with just 2 seconds remaining.
"I wasn't trying to run it up if that's what you mean. I felt the safest thing for us to do by goodness was to try to get it in there," said DeBerry, in his 20th season as Falcons coach. "By gosh, nobody needs to call me the things I was called. Maybe I need to be a little bit tougher. I didn't appreciate that."
The ugly scene in the tunnel couldn't overshadow the accomplishment for DeBerry. The last time Air Force won in Provo was 1982, when DeBerry was an assistant to Ken Hatfield. The Falcons needed a last-minute drive to win that year 39-38. But on Saturday, the Falcon defense had BYU coming from behind throughout the second half.
"I take my hat off to our football team. I mean to hold a BYU football team to 10 points ...," DeBerry said. "That gives you some kind of idea of the type of defense that our defense played to day."
Darnell Stephens ran for 93 yards on 16 carries for the Falcons (5-0, 2-0 Mountain West), who took advantage of a sluggish running game and forced a key turnover in the fourth quarter. Air Force beat BYU (2-3, 1-1) for the second straight year and have won five of the last seven meetings.
The Falcons were 9-of-18 on third downs as they won their first five games for the second straight season. A win over Navy next week would match last year's 6-0 start.
Beck completed 19 of 35 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown in his second start for the Cougars, but that accounted for nearly two-thirds of their offensive total of 306 yards. Rey Brathwaite carried 14 times for 68 yards, but lost 10 on a late third down, and Marcus Whalen gained just 28 yards on 10 carries and was stripped in Air Force territory as the Cougars were trying to rally.
"We had a great drive going and then we fumbled the football. I felt bad for Marcus," BYU coach Gary Crowton said. "He was feeling bad. We're all feeling bad."
After Harridge put Air Force up 17-10 with a 30-yard touchdown pass to J.P. Waller, the Cougars started moving the ball with more consistency than they had shown all day. Brathwaite took a pass 18 yards to the Air Force 36, then broke a 21-yard run to get the Cougars into Falcon territory. But Air Force's Nate Allen stripped the ball from Whalen and Ryan Carter recovered for the Falcons at the 39.
The Cougars got the ball back with 4:05 remaining, but on third-and-1 Brathwaite was stopped for a loss of 10. Beck's pass on fourth-and-11 was way off target and the Cougars turned the ball over at their own 19, drawing scattered boos from the home crowd.
Air Force was running out the clock, but went for it on fourth down from inside the 1 with just seconds remaining. Instead of taking a knee, Harridge scored on a dive as the clock expired, drawing more boos.
"We would have had one play left and they didn't want us to have that play," Crowton said. "We could have come up with something might have gone 99 yards. They could have backed off a little and knelt down maybe, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you lose by a lot or a little."
Harridge had given Air Force a 10-3 lead with an 8-yard run midway through the third quarter. The play capped a 14-play, 66-yard drive which featured four third-down conversions.
BYU responded by driving 80 yards and scoring on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Beck to Phillip Niu with 3:02 left in the third to tie it, but that was all the scoring for the Cougars as they self-destructed in the fourth quarter.