Rough third quarter grounds Falcons

USAF photo: Dennis Rogers Air Force freshman quarterback Tim Jefferson hands off to Falcon fullback Todd Newell during the 38-24 loss against Brigham Young University Nov. 15 at Falcon Stadium in Colorado.

By Capt. Uriah Orland: U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force Academy Falcons failed to carry first-half momentum forward and fell to the Brigham Young University Cougars 38-24 on Nov. 15 at Falcon Stadium in Colorado.

Leading 14-10 at the start of the third quarter, Air Force received the kick and started at their own 20. A false start penalty backed them up five yards and four plays later, punter/placekicker Ryan Harrison shanked the punt, setting up the Cougars at the Air Force 45-yard line.

BYU running back Harvey Unga scored eight plays later on a 1-yard run to put BYU on top for good.

“When you play these guys, you’re never going to be flawless, but there are certain games you have to be pretty darn close to it,” said Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun. “We didn’t come up with very many stops, had the short punt and the fumble on the kickoff return.”

Air Force continued to struggle in the third quarter, while BYU scored two more touchdowns. The three scores were the first points allowed by Air Force in the second half in three games and the most points allowed in a single quarter by the Falcons this year.

Commenting on the third quarter, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said, “I think any of the turnovers or any of the swings in field positions certainly had a role, but that allowed us some breathing room. I think it was difficult for them to respond and then catch back up after that swing in momentum.”

Air Force started to get things going late in the third, driving 63 yards on 13 plays. Freshman quarterback Tim Jefferson made a key completion to senior wide receiver Ty Paffett with a BYU defender in his face, setting up a 34-yard field goal by Harrison.

With about seven minutes left in the fourth, Falcons sophomore fullback Jared Tew recorded his first career touchdown on his longest run, narrowing the BYU lead to 31-24 and bring Air Force within striking distance.

However, BYU converted on a crucial third and 8 from their own 11-yard line, keeping the drive alive that ended with a 45-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Max Hall to wire receiver Austin Collie, capping the score 38-24.

Air Force still had one more chance to come back, with time dwindling in the fourth. Jefferson looked un-freshman like as he led the Falcons from their own 20-yard line, completing five passes in a row. However, his pass into the end zone was intercepted, ending any hope of an Air Force comeback.

“We had some opportunities to make first downs and we didn’t make it there,” said Coach Calhoun. “We had some chances to maybe come up with some interceptions. You’ve got to make every single one of those plays.”

The loss brings the Falcons’ record to 8-3 overall, and 5-2 in the Mountain West Conference. BYU moves to 10-1, and 6-1 in the MWC.

The Falcons finish regular season play Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CDT when they travel to Fort Worth to battle the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University.