SEATTLE (AP) -- Tyrone Willingham's presence alone hasn't taught
Washington how to win -- even with an 11-point lead and 10 minutes
Air Force rallied for 13 points in the fourth quarter, spoiling
Willingham's Huskies debut with a 20-17 win on Saturday.
Quarterback Shaun Carney scored on a 1-yard run with 34 seconds
left, handing Washington its seventh straight loss.
"We just needed to step up and make a play. If we make a play
down the stretch offensively or defensively, there's a good chance
we win the game," Willingham said.
With Air Force down 17-13, Carney directed a 14-play, 83-yard
drive that ate most of the final six minutes. The Falcons (1-0)
converted on fourth-and-2 with 4 minutes left after Carney
scrambled for four yards.
Carney found Jason Brown for a 20-yard completion on third down,
then hit Greg Kirkwood for 14-yards to the 1 on third-and-9 with
1:02 left. Carney scored two plays later.
"That last drive, everyone knew we were going to be fine,"
Carney said. "We weren't even really thinking down and distance."
It was a frustrating outcome for Washington (0-1), which last
won on Oct. 9, 2004, a 21-6 win over San Jose State. The contest
was a home game for Air Force, that was originally scheduled to be
played at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. The schools
moved the game to Seattle in January 2004.
Clad in gold helmets, white jerseys minus names and gold pants,
the Huskies looked eerily similar to Willingham's former team at
Notre Dame. But a less than full Qwest Field, was hardly
reminiscent of Notre Dame Stadium.
Wearing a purple golf shirt with gold trim, Willingham paced the
sideline with a purposeful stride all afternoon. Willingham had won
his first game with both Stanford and Notre Dame, his two previous
He seemed on the way to making it 3-for-3 with Washington ahead
by two scores in the fourth.
"When you have a football team that hasn't had a lot of
success, when you reach a point like that you get kind of giddy,
kind of excited about where you're at," Willingham said. "In my
eyes, that's almost the equivalent of a let down, and you have to
guard against that."
Washington went up 17-6 early in the fourth quarter. Isaiah
Stanback, who was named the starting quarterback on Tuesday, was
conservative and efficient against the Falcons' defense.
When he finally took a shot downfield, Stanback made his best
throw of the day, pumping right, then coming back to the left and
finding Cody Ellis for a 27-yard touchdown with 10:43 left.
Stanback finished 19-for-27 for 242 yards in just his second
"Right now, it's just frustration more than anything,"
Stanback said. "No matter how good of a play I made or anybody
else made we still lost."
Air Force didn't go quietly. Kirkwood muffed the ensuing
kickoff, putting the Falcons at the 1. After moving the ball to the
16, Kirkwood made up for the mistake, beating reserve cornerback
Josh Okoebor for an 84-yard TD -- the fourth-longest touchdown in
Kirkwood, who grew up in eastern Washington and had 60 to 70
family and friends at the game, finished with six catches for 134
yards, as Air Force threw for 207 yards. Carney rushed 20 times for
"On the kickoff, I made a mistake and should have let it go,"
Kirkwood said. "I had to make a play to make up for that one."
Similar to last year, Washington's defense struggled to get off
the field, especially in the second half. Air Force ran 13 more
offensive plays, held an almost four minute advantage in time of
possession, was 9-for-17 on third down and 3-for-3 on fourth down.
"I'm not so sure the time our defense spent on the field all
day didn't somewhat have an impact," Willingham said. "We were
clearly just missing things we had taken care of earlier."
Tied 3-3 at halftime, Washington went ahead midway through the
third quarter. Fullback James Sims plunged in from 1-yard, after
which Willingham held his familiar poise, raising one finger in the
air for the point after touchdown attempt.
Louis Rankin had a career-high 112 yards on 23 carries for
The Falcons controlled much of the first half, but turned the
ball over twice deep in Washington's end.
Washington scored on its second drive, when Evan Knudson
connected on a 40-yard field goal. Air Force's Scott Eberle made a
40-yard field goal in the second quarter on his first collegiate
"We made plays whenever we had to," Air Force coach Fisher
DeBerry said. "You never rule a Falcon out and I'm proud of my