2:00 PM ET, September 20, 2003
Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Air Force was ready for Wyoming this time.
Air Force (4-0) was on a roll headed into last year's game, but lost 34-26 to a Wyoming team that won once in its previous 15 games. The Falcons got off to a quick start this time and finished it off with a gutsy call in the closing minutes.
"It's a big step for us just because it was such a letdown emotionally last year," Harridge said. "It's a really big win for us."
It almost wasn't enough against Bramlet, who was just as good as last year, when he threw for 387 yards and two touchdowns.
Air Force scored two touchdowns in the first six minutes, but Bramlet hit 17 of 37 passes for 225 yards to keep Wyoming within 21-15 at halftime.
He also set up Ryan McGuffey's 5-yard touchdown run to give Wyoming (1-3) its first lead early in the third quarter, then hit Aaron Robbins on a 7-yard touchdown pass to get the Cowboys within six late in the fourth.
"He just doesn't do that to us. He does that to everybody," Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said.
But Bramlet didn't get a final chance.
Air Force got a couple of first downs on its next drive, but stalled near midfield. Facing a fourth-and-1 at Wyoming's 48-yard line, Harridge tried to get the Cowboys to jump offside. That didn't work and the Falcons called timeout.
But instead of punting with two minutes left, the offense ran back out. Harridge called a triple option in the huddle, then checked out of it when he saw a linebacker sneak up to the line.
Harridge took off on the double option right and was hit almost immediately. His pitch was slightly off target, but halfback Joe Schieffer corraled it, turned upfield and gained five yards to seal the win.
"The guy make a heck of a play and caused a bad pitch because I wasn't expecting it," Harridge said. "He made a play and thank goodness Joe was there."
The Mountain West Conference opener for both teams featured plenty of offense and momentum swings.
Air Force had 510 total yards, including a season-high 431 rushing. The Falcons had six players run for at least 30 yards, including Darnell Stephens' 91 on 14 carries.
Wyoming had 486 total yards, but just 88 rushing on 28 carries. The Cowboys have lost three straight since opening the season with a win over Division I-AA Montana State.
"Somebody's got find a way to win, to make a play to get a win," Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said. "And we're just not doing it."
Air Force took an early lead on a 3-yard touchdown run by Ward and a 6-yarder by Stephens.
Wyoming scored on a 19-yard halfback pass from Jovon Bouknight to McGuffey to cut the lead to 14-6, but Trevor Hightower blocked Luke Donovan's punt on Wyoming's next drive. Air Force took over at Wyoming's 21-yard line and Adam Cole scored two plays later on a 7-yard run.
Then Bramlet got rolling.
He hit Bouknight on a 20-yard touchdown pass in the edge of the end zone to cut the lead to 21-12, then just missed on three straight passes before Deric Yaussi hit a 38-yard field goal with 2 seconds left
Bramlet kept it going on the first drive of the third quarter, taking the Cowboys 80 yards in six plays for McGuffey's 5-yard touchdown on a reverse.
This time, Air Force had a long answer.
The Falcons followed with a grinding, 17-play drive that covered 80 yards. Harridge capped it with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Alec Messerall, and Stephens punched in the 2-point conversion for a 29-22 lead.
Ward followed with an 18-yard touchdown run, but Wyoming blocked the extra point to make it 35-22.
Bramlet took the Cowboys on an 82-yard drive in nine plays for the touchdown pass to Robbins, but he never got another chance.
"I'm a little disappointed in our defense," Wyoming linebacker Tyler Gottschalk said. "We had the chance late in the ball game. It was on our shoulders to go out and get the job done and we didn't."