|BYU Stumbles Way To Road Win Ove Air Force|
|Written by mark|
|Saturday, 15 November 2008 20:51|
Austin Collie marched into the locker room at halftime, looked around at his somber teammates and let them have it.
The BYU standout receiver lit into the 16th-ranked Cougars for lethargic play and looking like ``zombies.''
They listened, and BYU rallied in the second half for a 38-24 win over Air Force on Saturday.
BYU scored 21 straight points in the third quarter to turn a halftime deficit into a lead the Cougars wouldn't relinquish, setting up a clash with No. 8 Utah next weekend for a share of the Mountain West Conference title.
``I told the team that we're a lot better than this,'' Collie said. ``We're one of the best teams in the nation, we needed to start playing like it ... We needed someone to step up and get in the guys' faces and say, 'This isn't how we play football.'''
His actions then spoke even louder on the field.
Collie had two touchdown catches, including a 45-yard snare with 4:46 remaining to seal the win for BYU (10-1, 6-1 MWC).
Corralled most of the day, Collie came on late, finishing with 130 yards, his ninth straight 100-yard performance.
He also moved to within 35 yards of passing Eric Drage as the school's career leader in receiving.
``He's clutch - bottom line,'' said Max Hall, who completed 28 of 37 passes for 354 yards, picking apart an Air Force defense that came in leading the league against the pass. ``He makes plays when we need them in big-time situations. He came up huge again tonight.''
Especially in the speech department.
Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall just sat back and listened.
``I really didn't say a word. Austin Collie rallied the team,'' Mendenhall said.
Harvey Unga added two touchdowns in a 74-second span in the third quarter, the tipping point of the game.
The bruising sophomore powered in from a yard out early in the third.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Reggie Rembert had the ball squirt free on a hit from Blake Morgan, and it was recovered by Spencer Hadley.
Three plays later, Unga romped in from the 2.
``You're never going to be mistake-free,'' Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. ``But you've got to be inching right up against it. When we play teams like BYU and Utah, that's just the way we have to play.''
Speaking of Utah, well, the Cougars aren't speaking of Utah.
Mendenhall placed a gag order on his team - at least for a few days. The talk can begin early next week, not now.
``We're just going to enjoy this,'' Hall said.
As the Cougars took the field before the game, they heard a chorus of ``overrated'' chants from the Air Force fans.
It didn't bother BYU. In fact, the drone was deserved.
``The first half, I could've said we were an overrated team,'' Collie said. ``Second half, we stepped up. We proved we're one of the best teams. Hopefully, our momentum will carry us on.''
The Cougars have beaten the Falcons (8-3, 5-2) in five straight.
Yet this was far from easy, despite BYU sprinting out to a 31-14 lead following Collie's spirited chat in the locker room.
The Falcons pulled to within a touchdown on Jared Tew's 19-yard run with 7:37 left.
But Collie halted the threat by hauling in his 45-yard score on a double move he'd been setting Rembert up for all afternoon.
Collie came to a stop 10 yards out, Rembert bit and Collie took off down the sideline, Hall hitting him in stride.
``We thought we could get them,'' Collie said.
Hall didn't see the completion after being hit by blitzing safety Chris Thomas.
``One step away,'' said Thomas, whose team sacked Hall three times. ``But football is a game of inches and he made a great pass and they made a great play.''
Dennis Pitta caught nine passes for 113 yards, while Unga had 88 yards rushing on 19 attempts.
Todd Newell rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown for Air Force, and Asher Clark added a touchdown run.
Freshman quarterback Tim Jefferson had won five straight since taking over the starting job, but the Cougars halted the streak. He threw for 98 yards and rushed for 75 more.
``We had some drives where we were flawless and there were others where we laid an egg,'' Jefferson said. ``I don't think they're that much better than us. I kind of think we beat ourselves.''
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