Fitch relieved Carney against Wyoming

Updated: November 1, 2004, 11:44 PM ET
Associated Press

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry announced Monday that junior quarterback Adam Fitch will start in place of freshman Shaun Carney this Saturday at Army.

"It was just a gut feeling," DeBerry said Monday in a teleconference. "I just think our football team, with where we are and the way things have been going we just need to change some things."

Air Force (3-5, 2-3 MWC) has lost four of its last five games.

The move comes after Carney, the first freshman in school history to start the season at quarterback, has struggled at times in the last two games. In a 41-24 home loss to BYU on Oct. 23, he completed just 10 of 22 passes and threw an interception. In Air Force's 43-26 loss at Wyoming last Saturday, he completed just 3 of 10 and had an interception.

Fitch relieved Carney in the second half against Wyoming, and completed 7 of 11 for 132 yards and a touchdown. He also led the Falcons on two other scoring drives one of which he capped with a one-yard touchdown run.

Carney also has in recent weeks made poor or ill-advised option pitches. Being a junior, Fitch is considered a better runner because he is more familiar with the triple option's complex reads. Fitch played down the promotion, given how the Falcons must win all three remaining games to avoid their first losing season since 1993. It would be only the second in Fisher DeBerry's 21 seasons as head coach.

"There's definitely excitement about it," Fitch said. "But again our record is 3-5, there's nothing to be excited about there. Right now that's more important."

It will be Fitch's first start, but not his first relief role. In 2003, he came in off the bench and lead the Falcons to a come-from-behind win at Northwestern after starter Chance Harridge was ejected.

DeBerry said the on- and off-field demands of being a freshman at the Air Force Academy may have worn Carney down.

"As the season goes a long along," DeBerry said. "With all their other responsibilities, academically as well as the military responsibilities that they have, they somewhat get beat down a little bit."

Although Fitch will get the start at West Point, DeBerry said Carney could also see playing time.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press