Cowboys Ride High! End Three Year MWC Drought With Win Over Falcons

Oct 26, 2002

Final Stats?|?Photo Gallery

By ROBERT W. BLACKAssociated Press Writer

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - After Air Force's stunning 34-26 loss to Wyoming on Saturday, linebacker Anthony Schlegel maintained there was no letdown from last week's loss to Notre Dame.

Casey Bramlet passed for 387 yards and two touchdowns as Wyoming pulled off its biggest victory since knocking off then-No. 15 BYU in 1999.

"I just think that we came out with a lack of intensity that we had been playing with," Schlegel said of the No. 22 Falcons' second straight loss. "I don't think it was a letdown from Notre Dame. I just don't think we came out and executed."

Air Force (6-2, 3-1 Mountain West Conference) dropped out of first place in the league one week after losing at home to the Fighting Irish 21-14.

"They threw some quick passes and had us on our heels," defensive end Monty Coleman said of Wyoming's no-huddle, short-passing game. "They run plays very quickly, every 13, 14 seconds and that was very quick. That gets us tired ... and it's tough to get off the ball and do your job."

The Cowboys (2-6, 1-2) had lost 14 of their last 15, with the only victory coming against The Citadel, a Division I-AA team.

Wyoming also had dropped 17 straight conference games over four seasons. Its last Mountain West victory was Nov. 20, 1999, when the Cowboys beat New Mexico 42-28.

"It feels great right now," Bramlet said. "I don't even know what to say to explain it. We finally came around and everything kind of came together today, all sides of the ball."

Linebacker Tyler Gottschalk, who had 12 tackles including two for losses, said the Cowboys had grown weary of losing tight games.

"We finally just said, 'You know what? Let's go win a game. Let's not play a team close and then cough it up in the end,"' Gottschalk said.

Malcom Floyd, whose 58-yard TD catch put the Cowboys up 17-6 in the second quarter, saw a rare sight after the game: an on-field celebration by the home fans.

"I'm glad I was a part of these goal posts coming down," he said. "I remember when I was a freshman when we played BYU, and we beat BYU and those goal posts came down."

Air Force, which was third nationally in turnover margin, forced no turnovers and struggled throughout the game.

The Falcons led just once, when Joey Ashcroft's 27-yard field goal capped the game's opening drive.

"I'm not sure how ready we were to play, but that's my fault," Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said.

Bramlet completed 32 of 42 passes, including TD passes of 40 yards to Scottie Vines and 58 to Floyd. Bramlet didn't have an interception.

Air Force was averaging 306 rushing yards per game, tops in the nation, but Wyoming held the Falcons' option attack to 255 yards on the ground. Air Force had just 104 yards rushing against Notre Dame.

Wyoming outgained Air Force in total yardage 484-424.

The Falcons opened the second half with a 64-yard drive, capped by a 4-yard run by Anthony Butler that brought the academy within three points.

Wyoming answered with an 80-yard drive and Bramlet's 9-yard scoring run on a draw, boosting the Cowboys' lead to 24-14 late in the third quarter. Derek Armah's 4-yard TD with 11:01 remaining gave the Pokes a 31-14 lead.

On the next play from scrimmage, Chance Harridge, who ran for 91 yards on 17 carries, threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Park. It was the fifth-longest pass play in Air Force history, and got the Falcons to 31-21 with 10:42 left.

Air Force scored a safety when Paul Mayo blocked Luke Donovan's punt with 2:03 to go, and the Falcons added a 31-yard field goal with 43 seconds left to close to 34-26, but Wyoming's Corey Bramlet recovered the Falcons' onside kick, and the Cowboys ran out the clock.