2:00 PM ET, October 28, 2006
Falcon Stadium, UNITED STATES AF ACA, CO
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Curtis Brown could envision the story in his mind: Running back comes down with a stomach virus, gets pumped full of IV fluids the night before and then leads the team to victory with a big game.
But the Brigham Young senior was honest enough with himself to know it wasn't going to play out that way after a flu bug left him with no energy.
So Brown's best move in the Cougars' 33-14 win over Air Force on Saturday was to not play that much. Brown, BYU's leading rusher and receiver, took himself out after virtually each play in which he was involved.
"I wasn't able to get it done like I thought I could," said Brown, who had 42 rushing yards on 10 carries and told the other backs, "'This is your show today."
The offense did just fine even though he was limited. Running back Fui Vakapuna, who's been hampered with a high ankle sprain, had 52 rushing yards and two touchdowns, one on a 4-yard reception, and John Beck threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns.
"We knew that with Curtis not feeling too well, we all had to step up our games an extra step," said receiver Michael Reed, who had a touchdown catch in the second quarter. "We all know we can make plays."
The question was unavoidable. When BYU improved to 4-0 in the Mountain West Conference with a win over Air Force Saturday, the players knew they were going to be asked about going through the league undefeated.
"It's too early," Beck said. "The way you go undefeated in the Mountain West is to focus on one game at a time. That's what we're doing. This was a good win for us."
BYU senior offensive lineman Jake Kuresa owes his teammates one. He spoke up in the middle of the week and said he felt like the Cougars were a more dominant team than the Falcons. And while the Cougars backed up his words, Kuresa's comments could've backfired.
"I don't candy coat things," said Kuresa, whose team outgained the Falcons, 411-229, in total offense. "If I feel like we're going to dominate a team, that's what's going to come out of my mouth. There's no reason we shouldn't move the ball and score at will. We're bigger and more physical."
After the game, Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry's mind was on cornerback Carson Bird. The game was halted for around 20 minutes in the fourth quarter when Bird injured his neck while tackling BYU receiver Zac Collie. Bird was taken off the field on a stretcher with his neck in a brace. He was taken to Academy Hospital for observation. He had movement in all his extremities. Air Force doesn't comment on injuries.
"The game's not important, it's how he does," DeBerry said.
Beck threw two of his touchdown passes in the second quarter to give the Cougars a 21-0 halftime lead. He found Reed on a slant with 10:12 remaining and Jonny Harline for a 1-yard touchdown with 58 seconds left.
However, Beck's most creative throw of the day was a 4-yard strike to Vakapuna. Beck had an Air Force defender bearing down on him when he threw a jumpshot-like pass to Vakapuna, who then dove into the end zone.
"That wasn't planned," Beck said with a grin. "I just caught (Vakapuna) out of the corner of my eye."
Carney doesn't know what to say about the Falcons' inability to score the last two weeks. Air Force managed just 12 points against San Diego State last Saturday.
"I think it's consistency," Carney said. "We don't play as together right now."
This was the second straight week Air Force failed to score in the first half, the first time that's happened in DeBerry's 23 years at the Academy. They were averaging 23 points.
"Their defense is a little bit stronger than I thought it was coming into the game," DeBerry said.
Jared McLaughlin kicked two field goals for BYU, including a career-long 53-yarder early in the third quarter.
And while the Cougars scored 30 or more points for the sixth time this season, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall couldn't help but find a few blemishes -- like the eight penalties for 50 yards.
"There's room for improvement and we'll point that out to our players," Mendenhall said. "We'll tell them exactly what they need to do, very bluntly, very candidly, and they'll respond to that."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||9-12||8-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-2|
|TD||7:53||FUI VAKAPUNA 6 YD RUN (JARED MCLAUGHLIN KICK)|
Drive info: 14 plays, 81 yards.
|TD||10:12||MICHAEL REED 8 YD PASS FROM JOHN BECK (JARED MCLAUGHLIN KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 44 yards.
|TD||0:58||JONNY HARLINE 1 YD PASS FROM JOHN BECK (JARED MCLAUGHLIN KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 64 yards.
|FG||11:08||JARED MCLAUGHLIN 53 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 7 yards.
|TD||3:54||SHAUN CARNEY 1 YD RUN (ZACH SASSER KICK)|
Drive info: 15 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||13:40||FUI VAKAPUNA 4 YD PASS FROM JOHN BECK (BLOCKED XP)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 94 yards.
|FG||6:38||JARED MCLAUGHLIN 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 12 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||0:27||BEAU SUDER 3 YD RUN (ZACH SASSER KICK)|
Drive info: 16 plays, 80 yards.