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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Game Recap: BYU 38, Air Force 21

It was another historic meeting between the BYU Cougars and the Air Force Falcons. Records were falling as the Falcons fell to 7-5 with a 38-21 loss to BYU. The heralded BYU offense came out firing on all cylinders. Harvey Unga set the BYU career rushing record, the first junior to accomplish this feat at BYU. Max Hall set the Mountain West Conference (MWC) career records for total offense and passing. He moved into second all-time at BYU in these categories and in touchdown passes. Hall had five on the day as BYU put this game away early. The BYU defense was impressive as the unit held the Air Force run game well below its season average for rushing yards and caused four turnovers.

BYU took advantage of its size as Hall completed 14 passes for 167 yards and 3 touchdowns to tight ends. Dennis Pitta notched 9 receptions for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns to inch up the BYU receiving lists into second in receptions and fourth in receiving yards. He needs three receptions in two games to eclipse Austin Collie as the all-time leader in receptions.

As for what I was watching for, here is what I saw:
  1. Will Harvey Unga break the career rushing record? Yes, he is now up to 3,268 yards with one year and two games of eligibility left. If he can just stay away from injuries. He suffered another minor injury that limited his carries and sent him to the bench early.
  2. Will BYU avoid a losing record at home? Yes, the Cougars are now 3-2 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in 2009 with one game to go. A win next week will be the fourth consecutive year with a winning record at home.
  3. Will Max Hall win his 30th game as a starter? Yes, Max Hall has won more games as a starter than anyone else, with two games to go. However, Ty Detmer, who is now second place, did come off the bench to lead at least two comeback wins as a freshman.
  4. Will the game be a blowout, shootout, or defensive battle? BYU blew this one open early and led 38-13 with two minutes to play. The time of possession was even, and without the threat of the passing game, BYU stopped the run much better than it did against Florida State.
Here is what else I saw:
  • BYU handed Air Force its worst loss of the year. The cadets had not lost by more than 7 points all year.
  • Questionable officiating made this game closer than it could have been. Dennis Pitta pass interference and the touchdown called back because Hall was deceptive.
  • O’Neill Chambers caught his first touchdown of the season. He has had a solid sophomore year and he should catch many more tds before his career is done.
  • Air Force attempted seven fourth down conversions. Another subtle sign of how BYU controlled this game and made Air Force play catch up.
  • I know this sounds like second guessing, but it is how I felt before the play was made. I would have gone with a run call on the fourth and goal following the bizarre penalty of trying to deceive. With all the emotion in that sequence, I would take the size advantage along the line and BYU’s hard runners to pound it into the end zone. I think every Air Force player would have ended 5 yards deep in the end zone.
Next: Utah, Saturday, November 28, 2009, 3 pm (MST)

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