SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Trailing 37-34 to Air Force with 14
seconds left, Fresno State was going to go for the win, not the
The Bulldogs faked a field goal, but holder Jason Simpson's pass
to Giachino Chiaramonte fell incomplete in the end zone and Air
Force claimed the inaugural Silicon Valley Classic on Sunday.
Fresno State had practiced the fake, knowing Air Force's
kick-blocking abilities. When the Falcons put two jumpers --
linebackers Corey Nelson and Kevin Runyon -- in the middle, the play
"We just didn't make the play, and, if anything, we just ran
out of time," coach Pat Hill said.
Just before the fake, Fresno State's David Carr spiked the ball
on third-and-7 and called a timeout. Hill said the spike was a
It could have given the Bulldogs an edge, however, because Air
Force put all its focus on the kick and left Chiaramonte and
another receiver open. Simpson's pass simply went too long.
"When they spiked the ball on third down, I felt they were
determined to go for the tie, so we had all 11 prepared to rush the
field goal," Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said.
Fresno State had climbed back from a 34-7 halftime deficit, but
couldn't quite overcome the Falcons' first-half outburst.
Mike Thiessen hit Scotty McKay with two touchdown passes, and
ran for two more scores -- all in the first half. Thiessen completed
12 of 24 passes for 204 yards.
Dave Adams added field goals of 37, 46 and 24 yards for Air
Force, which finished the season 9-3.
Carr completed 22 of 33 passes for 291 yards and five
touchdowns. But Fresno State (7-5) appeared unprepared for all the
passing from the option-oriented Falcons.
Thiessen threw on the first play from scrimmage and hit Brian
LaBasco with a season-long 35-yard pass on the same drive. Adams
kicked a 37-yard field goal to cap the series.
Fresno State took over, but not for long. Carr's pass was
intercepted by Joel Buelow. A play later, Thiessen found McKay with
a 29-yard touchdown pass to put the Falcons up 10-0.
Thiessen threw for 1,687 yards during the regular season, the
most for an Air Force quarterback since 1969. He had 13 touchdown
passes, along with 10 scoring runs.
Adams added a 46-yard field goal -- the longest kicked by Air
Force in a bowl game -- with 3:06 left in the first quarter to put
the Falcons ahead 13-0.
Rodney Wright's fumble on Fresno State's own 14 gave the ball
back to the Falcons, and Thiessen hit McKay with a 13-yard scoring
pass. A 2-point conversion attempt failed.
Fresno State finally got on the board with a 73-yard touchdown
pass from Carr to Paris Gaines with 23 second left in the opening
quarter. It was the longest reception of Gaines' career.
Air Force opened the second quarter with Thiessen's 1-yard
touchdown run to go up 26-7.
Thiessen also ran 9 yards for a touchdown with 1:06 left in the
first half. Again the Falcons tried the conversion, and this time
it worked: Thiessen's pass to Chris Jessop gave Air Force a 34-7
Fresno State mounted a comeback in the second half. The Bulldogs
took a chance on fourth-and-2 in the third quarter and Carr's
completion to Alec Greco in the end zone made it 34-14.
After Adams booted his 24-yard field goal for Air Force, Carr
threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Donnell Burch to narrow the margin
to 37-20. It was Burch's first career reception.
Adams attempted a 30-yard field goal with 10:47 left in the
game, but Fresno State's Terence Brown blocked the kick. That set
up a scoring drive that ended with Carr's 47-yard pass to Bernard
Berrian caught a 51-yard pass from Carr a little more than three
minutes later, and the crowd -- mostly Fresno State fans -- went
"We searched and searched in the first half, trying to figure
out why we weren't moving the ball. Then we just started to make
some big plays," Carr said. "The second half, we just seemed to
have the right plays called at the right time."
Air Force finished the season ranked ninth in the country in
total offense with 451.9 yards per game. On Sunday, the Falcons had
471 yards of total offense.
Air Force leads the overall series against Fresno State 4-2.
In their last bowl appearance two seasons ago, the Falcons beat
Washington 45-25 in the Oahu Bowl.
It was Fresno State's second straight bowl loss. The Bulldogs
fell to Utah 17-16 in the EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl last season.
|Air Force halfback Scott McKay goes airborne thanks to teammate Chris Jessop after scoring a first-quarter touchdown.|
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