AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Until Saturday, Utah tight end
Ben Moa had never run the ball and never thrown a pass.
He figures to be doing a lot more of that from now on.
Moa, taking a direct snap in the shotgun formation, ran for a
1-yard touchdown and then completed a 2-point conversion pass to
Matt Hansen, leading Utah to a 45-43 win over Air Force in triple
The win gave Utah (7-2, 4-1 Mountain West) sole possession of
first place in the conference.
Air Force (6-3, 3-2) rallied from a 23-7 third-quarter deficit,
scoring 16 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
The 250-pound Moa proved to be a triple threat. He carried nine
times for 26 yards and three touchdowns. Besides his clinching
2-point conversion pass, he caught five passes for 68 yards.
Utah coach Urban Meyer said the Utes installed the running plays
for Moa because of a shortage of running backs. Utah lost its
leading rusher, Brandon Warfield, to a knee injury last week.
"We are down to three freshmen," Meyer said. "That's why we
went with Moa."
Moa embraced the additional duties.
"I love it," he said. "I'll do whatever it takes for our team
Air Force, taking possession first in the initial overtime, got
a 1-yard scoring run from quarterback Chance Harridge. Moa
responded with a 1-yard run, taking another direct snap, on Utah's
Utah's Alex Smith threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Paris
Warren in the second overtime, but Air Force countered on
Harridge's 9-yard pass to Alex Messerall.
The Falcons went up 43-37 on Anthony Butler's 4-yard touchdown
run in the third overtime, but Harridge slipped and fell short of
the goal line on the required 2-point conversion.
The Utes won it after Smith passed 22 yards to Steve Savoy and
Moa ran the final yard for the touchdown on fourth down. Expecting
another run from Moa on the 2-point conversion, the Falcons left
tight end Hansen uncovered in the rear of the end zone.
Meyer said the Utes were planning to have Moa throw the pass on
the fourth-down play, but Moa promised he would run it in so they
saved the pass for the 2-point conversion.
"We tricked them a little," Moa said. "I knew they were going
to bite. We had run the ball every time I was the quarterback -- six
times, maybe more.
"They didn't cover any receivers. They blitzed everybody in,
and I knew Matt would be wide open. So I threw it over the top,
Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry credited Utah for its deception.
"I was looking for (Moa) to run the ball just like he did, and
he started towards the line of scrimmage, stopped and just popped
it over our heads," DeBerry said. "Obviously we weren't thinking
pass in that type of situation. We played what they had success
doing, and they made a great call. They utilized (Moa) very, very
Harridge also ran for three scores.
Fog shrouded Falcon Stadium early in the game, finally lifting
early in the second quarter.
Freshman Mike Liti's 10-yard touchdown run capped a 70-yard
scoring drive that gave Utah a 23-7 lead midway through in the
third quarter. The Utes failed on the extra point when the snap was
Air Force then rallied for three scores in the fourth quarter,
producing a 23-23 tie.
The Falcons marched 80 yards in 16 plays, helped by a pass
interference penalty against Utah, and Darnell Stephens ran the
final 3 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. Harridge's
2-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
Three plays later, Liti fumbled and Air Force's Marchello Graddy
recovered near midfield. Joey Ashcroft kicked a 45-yard field goal
with 11:10 remaining.
Following a Utah punt, Air Force went 92 yards in 13 plays on a
drive that included pass-interference and face-mask penalties
against the Utes. Harridge hit J.P. Waller on 14- and 16-yard
passes, and Harridge ran 2 yards off the left side for the tying
touchdown with 3:09 left.
The Falcons had another scoring chance as time was running out
in regulation, but Ashcroft's 50-yard field goal attempt was
blocked by Spencer Toone.
Utah scored on three long scoring drives to take a 17-7 halftime
lead. Utah outgained Air Force 265-118 in the half and held a huge
edge in time of possession -- 21:28 to 8:32.
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