Air Force shells Washington
Posted: Saturday January 09, 1999 08:42 PM
HONOLULU (CNN/SI) -- The Western Athletic Conference has not been known for getting much respect. With the dissolution of the conference over the summer, it was going to be difficult for any of its teams to get any national recognition, especially from those running the Bowl Championship Series.
So Air Force, despite a stellar 11-1 record, had to settle for a Christmas Day bowl and watch plenty of other teams duke it out throughout the bowl season.
The Falcons had something to prove to the Bowl Championship Series committee, and it proved it in a big way. It did so by destroying Washington 45-25 in the Oahu Bowl.
The game, the back end of the first postseason bowl doubleheader -- Colorado upset No. 21 Oregon 51-43 in the Aloha Bowl -- was a rout in the second half.
Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry wants the BCS folks to know the Falcons are a Top 10 team.
"I'm at a loss for words right now," DeBerry said. "This is a team that people didn't think a whole lot of. People picked us to finish in the middle of our conference. The team got better and better. We lost a total of one game by one point.
"If this is not a Top 10 team, then I don't know what is."
With Blane Morgan deftly guiding the complex triple-option offense, the Falcons completed the day a little under their regular-season average on the ground with 232 yards and added another 267 passing.
"Our quarterback kept them off-balance all game long," DeBerry said of Morgan's play. "Our offensive line did great, too."
The Falcons scored three of the first four times they had the ball to take a 22-13 lead at the half and got 16 unanswered points in the third quarter.
Morgan, not known as a prolific passer, even outplayed heralded Brock Huard, who plans to skip his final season to enter the NFL draft. The Air Force quarterback matched Huard's passing yardage, but did so on 11 fewer completions to go with a pair of touchdowns. Morgan also had 50 yards rushing.
"I feel disappointed," Huard said. "This is not the way I wanted to go out.
"Their success, their whole game was pressure. They moved their linemen all around. We couldn't pick them up real well. They executed, we didn't."
Huard's totals included no TDs and three interceptions.
"We made plays on offense, but couldn't catch up with them," Washington coach Jim Lambright said. "Our scout team we worked against didn't give us a picture the Air Force gave us on game day.
"You can't credit their quarterbacking and play-calling enough."
Morgan said, "In practice, we had been throwing the ball as well as we had all year long. They [Washington] run a lot of guys up to the line to try to stop the run.
"It's a tremendous feeling. It's been a long road, a long four years. Winning 12 games is a tremendous feeling."
Exactly a year ago, it was Lambright singing the praises of the Huskies, who demolished Michigan State 51-23 in the Aloha Bowl.
Air Force, which won its final nine games after a one-point loss to Texas Christian, used its quickness to bury the Huskies.
On its first three scores, Morgan guided Air Force on long drives -- 73, 83 and 74 yards -- with Jemal Singleton scoring twice, on runs of 12 and 2 yards, and Scott McKay getting the third on a 15-yard run.
The Falcons resorted to trickery on the third score, using a fake punt on fourth-and-8 -- a 10-yard run by Jason Sanderson -- to keep the ball moving.
Braxton Cleman scored on runs of 3 and 1 yards for Washington to make it 22-13 at the half, but the Falcons' big third quarter ended the Huskies' hopes.
The scores came on a 42-yard field goal by Jackson Whiting, a 4-yard run by Spanky Gilliam and Morgan's 79-yard pass to Matt Farmer.
Morgan closed out the Air Force scoring by teaming with McKay on a 30-yard pass in the fourth quarter. With the game out of hand, Washington's Marques Tuiasosopo scampered 7 yards for one TD and then passed 11 yards to Mikjo Austin with four seconds left.
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