3:06 PM ET, September 22, 2007
LaVell Edwards Stadium, PROVO, UT
PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Brigham Young abruptly ended Air Force's hopes of a 4-0 start under new coach Troy Calhoun.
It took the Cougars barely a minute to force a turnover that set up a quick touchdown and deflate the Falcons in BYU's 31-6 win Saturday.
Max Hall passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns, Harvey Unga ran for 111 yards and Manase Tonga scored on two short runs for the Cougars (2-2, 1-0), who had lost two in a row by falling behind and not quite being able to rally.
This time, the Cougars took and early lead and just kept building on it.
"The type of guys we have on our team are guys that are going to fix the mistakes and they're going to get better. We showed that today," said Hall, who completed 23 of 33 passes.
BYU won its fourth straight against the Falcons (3-1, 2-1), who were trying to open the MWC season by beating the last three conference champions. Air Force opened the conference season with a win over 2004 champion Utah, then beat TCU in overtime last week.
But the Falcons were quickly humbled by the defending champion Cougars, who haven't lost a league game since 2005.
"They're the defending conference champions and I thought they played like it today," Calhoun said. "To me, where your mettle is tested a little bit is when you get hit in the teeth. And today, we got hit in the teeth."
Air Force finished with 231 yards of offense and was just 3-for-13 on third downs.
Shaun Carney passed for 98 yards and scored Air Force's only touchdown on an 8-yard option run late in the third quarter after BYU was up 24-0.
"We know exactly what happened. We came out flat and didn't play hard," Carney said. "That's just unacceptable in this program."
BYU hasn't lost a conference game since Nov. 19, 2005 against rival Utah, which was also the last time the Cougars lost at home.
After falling behind the previous two weeks in losses to UCLA and Tulsa, BYU took the lead less than 4 minutes into the game Saturday.
"What we really wanted to focus on is after we get a lead, to keep putting points on the board," Hall said.
Hall also threw an interception and fumbled when he was blindsided in the pocket after the Cougars had driven inside the Air Force 20. Those were about only problems he had despite injuries to receiver Austin Collie (ankle) and running back Fui Vakapuna (hand).
Hall just looked to his running back tandem of Unga and Tonga, who caught a combined 10 passes. Tight end Dennis Pitta caught five more and finished with 114 receiving yards.
The Cougars stuck with short gains and didn't have a play go longer than 29 yards.
"I think the distribution and the emphasis is starting to show," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
The Cougars led 17-0 at halftime, then in the third quarter caught the Falcons by surprise on fourth-and-9 from the 29. Rather than attempting a long field goal, the Cougars went for it and Hall threw a perfect sideline pass to Unga out of the backfield for a touchdown with 10:54 left in the third.
Air Force didn't score until Carney's 8-yard run with 3:31 left in the third cut BYU's lead to 24-6. The Falcons went for two and the Cougars snuffed the option this time.
Tonga added a 2-yard touchdown run early in the fourth to give BYU a 31-6 lead.
Air Force's defense was holding opponents to an average of 294 yards and fewer than 11 points through the first three games. BYU finished with 452 yards as Hall completed 23 of 33 passes and the Cougars ran 44 times for 159 yards.
BYU led 17-0 at halftime on a 1-yard run by Tonga in the first quarter, a 9-yard pass from Hall to Matt Allen in the second and a 42-yard field goal by Mitch Payne.
Quinn Gooch set up the first touchdown with an interception and 1-yard return to the Air Force 43-yard line on the opening possession. The Cougars needed just six plays to get to the end zone and Tonga got the ball on five of them.
He caught a short pass and rumbled 13 yards to the 6-yard line, then went up the middle on the next three plays and finally broke through from about a foot out with 11:02 left in the first quarter.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-13||8-16|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||2-2|
|TD||11:02||Manase Tonga 1 Yd Run (Mitch Payne Kick)||0||7|
|TD||14:54||Matt Allen 9 Yd Pass From Max Hall (Mitch Payne Kick)||0||14|
|FG||01:14||Mitch Payne 42 Yd||0||17|
|TD||10:54||Harvey Unga 29 Yd Pass From Max Hall (Mitch Payne Kick)||0||24|
|TD||03:31||Shaun Carney 8 Yd Run (Two-Point Run Conversion Failed)||6||24|
|TD||13:51||Manase Tonga 2 Yd Run (Mitch Payne Kick)||6||31|