Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cowboys punchless in loss to Falcons

Wyoming-Air Force statistics

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- For the second time this season, the Wyoming offense put up a goose egg on the scoreboard.

The Wyoming defense was strong, but Air Force was a little stronger in blanking the Cowboys 10-0 Saturday, handing the Cowboys their first Mountain West Conference loss of the season.

Wyoming’s lack of offensive production came off of scoring 97 points in its previous three games, all victories. The Cowboys fell to 2-1 in league play and 4-3 overall. Air Force, which has now won four straight over Wyoming, is now 3-1, 4-3.

"It was just nip and tuck, as it so frequently is whenever Air Force plays Wyoming,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “You can go back a number of years where you can talk about very, very close contests. You just have to find a way to win with resolve. I thought today we were extremely resilient and we did what we had to do to win a football game, which was a really good victory. You had two good teams, and hats off to Wyoming for what they've done and for what they're going to do up there. It was a great win."

After a scoreless first half, the Falcons scored the only points of the game on a 29-yard field goal by Erik Soderberg in the third quarter and a 17-yard touchdown run by Jared Tew in the fourth quarter. Both scores were set up by short punts, putting air Force in good field position.

Air Force got going offensively in the second half when sophomore quarterback Connor Dietz came off the bench to spark the Falcons, replacing Tim Jefferson, who got the start despite missing the previous two games because of injury.

That was more than enough for Air Force's defense, one of the stingiest in the nation. The Falcons shut out of a conference opponent for the first time since a 24-0 win at Colorado State in 1997.

"I don't think there is any difference in their quarterbacks,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. “They are both equally as productive running the offense. There was really no difference between the second half and the first half, our defense was just on the field a whole bunch today."

Tew led Air Force's rushing attack, finishing with 105 yards while Savier Stephens added 46.

The Cowboys were rolling along coming into Saturday. They had won three straight and were averaging more than 32 points a game since true freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels took over at quarterback.

But Carta-Samuels struggled against the Falcons, completing 14 of 31 passes for 74 yards. He also threw an interception and the Cowboys never moved the ball inside the red zone.

Brandon Stewart finished with 51 yards rushing for the Cowboys, while David Leonard while had seven catches for 36 yards.

A stout Cowboys defense kept Air Force at bay for most of the game, but wore down late. Sophomore linebacker Brian Hendricks finished with 23 tackles for Wyoming and senior defensive tackle John Fletcher had a pair of sacks.

In the scoreless first half, the teams combined for 12 penalties and Air Force mustered 79 yards of offense.

The Falcons got inside the 5, but Asher Clark was stopped by Chris Prosinski and Shamiel Gary from the 3 before Jefferson's fourth-down pass was knocked away by Tashaun Gipson in the corner of the end zone.

With time winding down in the opening half, the Cowboys caught the Falcons in a coverage mix up and Stewart broke into the clear along the sideline.

However, Carta-Samuels sailed a pass too far and Stewart caught it out of bounds near the Air Force 10.

Wyoming's 47-yard field goal attempt just before halftime was blocked by Zach Kauth.

The Cowboys had 10 penalties in the game for 71 yards.

"Absolutely awful job on my part of preparing our kids for that,” Christensen said.

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