2:00 PM ET, October 20, 2007
Falcon Stadium, UNITED STATES AF ACA, CO
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Air Force safety Bobby Giannini kept running even though he wasn't sure the play was still alive.
It paid off when Wyoming didn't chase him and the senior returned a fumble 85 yards for the game-winning score in the Falcons' 20-12 victory over the error-prone Cowboys on Saturday.
The win made Air Force (6-2, 5-1 MWC) bowl eligible for the first time since 2003. The Falcons haven't played in a bowl game since the 2002 season.
Wyoming (4-3, 1-2) led 9-7 when running back Wynel Seldon lost the ball at the Air Force 15 after being spun around by Giannini early in the fourth quarter.
"That was definitely a strange play. There was no crowd noise, nothing going on," Giannini said. "I slowed down, turned around and the only person chasing me was (teammate) Drew (Fowler). I slowed down and made sure I crossed the goal line. That was probably the slowest touchdown in history, but it counts."
The play went to review, but was upheld by officials only minutes after a similar play -- a fumble by Wyoming quarterback Karsten Sween that was returned for a touchdown -- was overturned.
In all, six plays went to review. Three field goals and two extra points were missed and Wyoming had five turnovers.
"Five turnovers, is that what we had? That's horrible," Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said. "Get new people in there. You're not going to touch the ball if you're going to turn it over. We'll play other guys."
Ian Hetrick replaced an ineffective Sween, who threw three interceptions, in the fourth quarter and made things interesting. He drove the Cowboys 74 yards, but Wyoming was held to a field goal and was unable to recover the ensuing onside kick.
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun was glowing after the team's third straight win and the school's first postseason eligibility since 2002.
"Our defense was immense and just bowed their necks," Calhoun said. "The guts and hearts of our kids, that's what we're riding right now. We really showed some fortitude today."
Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney became the school's leader in touchdown passes with 35 after throwing two against the Cowboys. The record-breaker came when he connected with wide receiver Mark Root for the game's final score. The record was held by Rich Haynie, the Falcons' quarterback from 1971-73.
But Carney was just glad the Falcons won't have to watch everyone else in a bowl play during the Christmas break.
"I'm not going to lie, it's great," Carney said. "Having the past three seasons, not even having the opportunity to have a chance to get into a bowl has been frustrating. Now we can take some pressure off our shoulders."
Wyoming opened the scoring on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Sween to halfback Wade Betschart. Billy Vinnedge missed the extra point.
Air Force responded with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Carney to wide receiver Chad Hall.
Vinnedge added a career-long 57-yard field goal as time expired and the Cowboys took the lead into halftime.
The game remained close because Falcons' kicker Ryan Harrison missed first-half field goals from 37, 43, and 46 yards.
The Falcons ran for 259 yards, including 167 from Hall. Carney ran for 64 yards.
"Now we go out and play some football, continue to get some wins and hopefully compete for this conference championship," Carney said.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||10-18||4-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||2-2|
|TD||09:23||Wade Betschart 13 Yd Pass From Karsten Sween (Pat Failed) |
Drive: 15 plays, 80 yds, 5:37
|TD||03:19||Chad Hall 5 Yd Pass From Shaun Carney (Ryan Harrison Kick) |
Drive: 12 plays, 58 yds, 5:05
|FG||00:00||Billy Vinnedge 57 Yd |
Drive: 8 plays, 28 yds, 3:15
|TD||14:04||Bobby Giannini 85 Yd Fumble Return (Ryan Harrison Kick)||9||14|
|TD||06:56||Mark Root 25 Yd Pass From Shaun Carney (Pat Blocked) |
Drive: 4 plays, 39 yds, 1:23
|FG||02:26||Billy Vinnedge 23 Yd |
Drive: 14 plays, 74 yds, 4:30