Sept. 25, 1999
By JOHN MOSSMAN
AP Sports Writer
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Cornerback Trent Gamble was all that stoodin the way of two Air Force scoring threats inside the 10-yard line. That meantit was no gamble at all.
Gamble's two big defensive plays and Jay Stoner's 60-yard touchdown pass toKofi Shuck early in the second quarter helped Wyoming upset No. 24 Air Force10-7 Saturday.
The loss snapped Air Force's 11-game winning streak, the longest in DivisionI-A.
Wyoming coach Dana Dimel called it "the biggest win of my career."
In the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams, Wyoming (2-1) avengedfrustrating losses to Air Force the past two seasons, including last year'slate-season 10-3 defeat that foiled the Cowboys' bid for a conference title andbowl berth.
"The last two years Air Force knocked us out of the WAC championship, andwe've gone home to watch them play on TV," Gamble said. "We had to win thisgame."
Two plays made the difference, and Gamble was instrumental in both.
On the first play of the second quarter, Air Force faced a fourth-and-goalat the Wyoming 2-yard line. Passing up the field goal, Air Force went for thetouchdown instead, but halfback Scotty McKay took a pitchout and was dumped fora 2-yard loss by Gamble.
"It was a big play when we needed it," Gamble said. "But we had to playawesome all day."
Dimel said Gamble is "an outstanding football player. He'll probably bedrafted in the first three rounds of the NFL draft, and he's playing to thatlevel right now."
Refusing to second-guess Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry's decision, Dimelsaid: "I think he was trying to send a message to his team because he knewwe've really keyed up for this ballgame. And you have to remember that AirForce is the best in the country in getting the ball in the end zone inside the5-yard line."
DeBerry defended his call.
"I know I'm going to get criticism for that," he said, "but I haveconfidence in our offense. We moved the ball the doggone length of the field. Imade that choice, and we didn't execute."
Five plays later, Stoner's TD pass to Shuck made it 7-0.
Midway through the third quarter, Air Force threatened to tie it.
Cale Bonds completed a 12-yard pass to Matt Farmer, but Farmer fumbled atthe 5 when hit by Gamble, and linebacker Jared Jarnagin recovered.
Wyoming responded with an 85-yard, 15-play drive that culminated in AaronElling's 27-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 3:23 left in the thirdquarter. Shuck, a wide receiver who repeatedly went in motion to take handoffs,ripped off a 30-yard run early in that drive.
Air Force (2-1) struck quickly for its lone score early in the final period.Farmer ran 37 yards on an end-around, helping set up Bonds' 18-yard touchdownpass to McKay with 12:24 remaining.
Moments later, the teams exchanged turnovers, and Air Force's finalpossession was stymied by a false-start penalty and linebacker Cortney Barnes'tackle of Farmer for an 8-yard loss with 2:30 left.
Air Force outgained Wyoming 396 yards to 356, but the Falcons' twosquandered scoring chances loomed large.
"I want to salute the Wyoming team," DeBerry said. "They played a verytough, hard-nosed, almost error-free game, except for that fumble they gave usin the middle of the field. We made enough mistakes today to hopefully last alot of ballgames."
Wyoming's touchdown came just 1:34 after McKay was stopped on thefourth-down play. Stoner and Shuck hooked up for the touchdown when safetyJason Blevins left his feet, diving unsuccessfully for a deflection with 13:22left in the half. It was Wyoming's first touchdown in the last three games ofthe series, the Cowboys were held to a single field goal in each of the lasttwo games.
Wyoming, operating without a huddle throughout the game, squandered anearlier scoring chance when Elling missed a 39-yarder. Wide receivers Shuck andTommy Nash ran for 25- and 17-yard gains in the series.
Halfback Chris Wade ran 31 yards and McKay for 17 during Air Force's abortedscoring drive.
Stoner was 14-of-22 for 166 yards, while Bonds was 10-of-22 for 134.
Shuck led all rushers with 82 yards on eight carries.
Air Force, which came into the game ranked second in the nation in rushingat 330 yards per game, finished with 262.