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Sakoda hits FG as time expires to lift Utah over Air Force

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry
shook Eric Weddle's hand after Utah's 17-14 victory Saturday night
and told the country's most versatile player he was getting robbed.

"I told him, 'They're cheating you, son. They ought to be
giving you two scholarships. You're playing both sides of the
football, and doing as much for them as you're doing, you deserve
two scholarships," DeBerry said.

Weddle, the reigning defensive player of the year in the
Mountain West Conference, ran 12 times for 73 yards and two
touchdowns, made eight solo tackles, returned a punt and held for
Louie Sakoda's 37-yard field goal as time expired.

"Whatever they need me to do," said Weddle, who played safety,
cornerback, linebacker, tailback, quarterback, punt returner, kick
returner and holder at Falcon Stadium.

"Typical night," said the multitalented senior, who has scored
seven touchdowns this season for the Utes (7-4, 5-2 Mountain West),
winners of three straight.

"I love scoring touchdowns," Weddle said. "It's been a dream
season."

And it's not like the Falcons were caught off guard. Weddle was
simply too good to beat, no matter where he lined up.

"It wasn't any secret that he was going to run the football
when he came in the game," said DeBerry, whose Falcons need to win
at UNLV and TCU to avoid a third straight losing season for the
first time in his 23 years at the academy.

And it wasn't surprising that Weddle would come up with the big
plays on defense.

After scoring on a 6-yard run in the first quarter, Weddle shed
a blocker and stuffed Chad Hall at the Utah 14. Hall otherwise had
a clear path to the first-down marker, if not the end zone.

"My job is to run to the pitch and shed blocks," Weddle said.
"That play, I just got lucky and tripped him up."

Afterward, Zach Sasser was wide left on a 35-yard field goal. On
Air Force's next possession Sasser missed again from 34 yards,
leaving the Utes with a 7-0 halftime lead.

Weddle's 4-yard touchdown scamper with 9:46 remaining broke a
7-7 tie after Shaun Carney had tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to
Victor Thompson at 12:13.

Carney's 1-yard keeper with 4:07 tied it, and the Utes got the
ball back at their 20 with 3:55 remaining. Weddle gained 10 yards
on two carries on the winning drive.

Of course, the last person to hold the ball for the Utes was
Weddle.

"I had total confidence in Louie that he was going to get it
done," Weddle said. "I just had to get it down for him and not
mess it up."

Like the rest of his night, Weddle was perfect.

"Any way to help the team," he said.

Weddle saw his most extensive action of the season on offense.
His 73-yard performance was the best for any Utah rusher this
season.

"He's the guy we feel like we need to get the ball too. Any
situation, put Eric in," Utah quarterback Brett Ratliff said.
"When he's doing that well, it's hard not to get him the ball.

"It's a joy watching him play defense, watching how well he
reads offenses and makes big plays. But it's nice to have him come
over to the offensive side and make plays for us too," Ratliff
said. "Even on special teams, he does it all. We have him
everywhere."

Despite getting beat by Weddle on offense, defense and special
teams, DeBerry felt good about his team, which in all likelihood
saw its bowl hopes fade to black.

"I'm very proud of our football team," DeBerry said. "They
fought their guts out. The people in this community ought to feel
good about the type of young men representing us in our Air Force
and positions of leadership in this country. Because those guys,
despite what the scoreboard says, they're not losers. They're
warriors and they're winners, and I'll go to my grave saying
that."