Loss to BYU guarantees losing season for Air Force

PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Brigham Young dominated Air Force for nearly 45 minutes, making Air Force's big fourth quarter futile.

Curtis Brown had career highs with 219 yards rushing and four touchdowns Saturday to lead BYU past Air Force 62-41, holding off a crazy comeback and five touchdowns by the Falcons in the final 15:01.

Adam Fitch set an Air Force record with five touchdown passes after relieving injured starter Shaun Carney, but it wasn't enough for the Falcons to overcome the combination of Brown and quarterback John Beck, who helped lead BYU to 684 yards of offense.

It was the most points BYU had scored in four years and the Cougars felt it could have been more.

"We should have been in the 70s, points-wise," Beck said. "We felt like if we did our jobs, they couldn't stop us."

Well, the Falcons didn't stop the Cougars often.

The loss guaranteed consecutive losing seasons for the Falcons for the first time under coach Fisher DeBerry, whose week went from long to longer Saturday.

The Falcons' preparation was disrupted during the week when DeBerry apologized for comments he made about black athletes and recruiting. But the disruption caused by DeBerry's comments and a public reprimand from the school weren't what hurt the Falcons on Saturday, DeBerry said.

"None whatsoever," DeBerry said of any lingering effects from the distraction. "We got beat by a good football team."

BYU (4-4, 3-2 Mountain West) forced five turnovers and built a big enough lead that the Falcons' comeback came too late. Each time Air Force got the margin down to two touchdowns, BYU answered with another score.

Beck passed for three touchdowns and 383 yards and Brown topped his career best rushing total by 2 yards.

Jared McLaughlin also kicked two field goals and had a 46-yarder nullified by offsetting penalties.

"We left some points on the field," Brown said.

The Falcons (3-6, 2-5) never recovered from a 34-point deficit and can do no better than last season's 5-6 record. It will be just the fourth losing season in 22 years at Air Force for DeBerry.

Carney left after the first quarter with a cut to his left hand and Fitch threw for 265 yards and broke the Air Force record for touchdown passes shared by three other players. Mike Thiessen was the last Falcon to throw for four scores, against BYU in 2000.

"To have five touchdowns in an option offense is pretty remarkable, but it doesn't mean anything without a W," Fitch said.

Beck was 31-for-43 with one interception, which was tipped, and helped the Cougars to their highest point total since a 63-33 victory over Air Force in 2001.

Air Force had the eighth-ranked defense in the nine-team Mountain West entering the game and another poor defensive performance was too much for the offense to overcome. The Falcons scored a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter and three more TDs early in the final period -- including a blocked punt Garrett Rybak returned 10 yards that cut BYU's lead to 41-20.

Fitch got Air Force within 48-27 with an 8-yard pass to Chad Hall with 9:50 to play, then 14 seconds later Air Force scored again after BYU fumbled the kickoff return. Brett Cooper's fumble was challenged by BYU, but it withstood the video review and, on first down, Fitch hit Greg Kirkwood in stride for a 36-yard touchdown.

"For them to come back like that, we've got to focus on finishing," BYU defensive lineman Manaia Brown said. "I love to win, but just with our defensive goals, they went out the window that last quarter."

BYU answered on Curtis Brown's 20-yard run for his third touchdown to seal it for the Cougars.

Already leading 7-0 after an 86-yard touchdown drive on the opening series, Justin Luettgerodt set up BYU for another score with an interception he returned 22 yards to the Air Force 12. Nathan Meikle took the ball around right end for an easy score.

Carney set up the Falcons with first down from the 9 with a 24-yard run after he couldn't find an open receiver, but on the first play of the second quarter Manaia Brown stripped the ball from Carney. Cameron Jensen recovered for the Cougars in the end zone.

Another Air Force turnover led to points for BYU in the third quarter when the Cougars recovered a botched handoff at the 40-yard line. McLaughlin kicked a 35-yard field goal to put the Cougars up 31-7.

"We played well enough to win. The number of points was outstanding," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "At the end, obviously we have to learn from that."


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