W A C _ F O O T B A L L



WAC is gaining respect,
especially in South Bend

Associated Press



It started with a snub and ended with another, although apparently unintentional. But the last laugh went resoundingly to Air Force.

Air Force smothered Notre Dame's running attack, forced a key turnover in overtime and shocked the Irish, 20-17, on Dallas Thompson's 27-yard field goal Saturday in South Bend.

Quarterback Beau Morgan rushed for 183 yards and a touchdown as the Falcons went to 4-2.

"Sixty-seven yards," said Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry, shaking his head in disbelief at Notre Dame's meager rushing total. "What this proves is size isn't everything in football. There's desire and there's belief. Our kids believed."

"I applaud Air Force," Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said. "They played their hearts out. They beat us up front. We tried everything to move the ball on the ground, but nothing worked."

AFA's Tobin Ruff scored on a 19-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, forcing overtime.

Air Force (4-2) won the coin toss and elected to go on defense. Under the new overtime rules, Notre Dame then got the ball on AFA's 25-yard line. Irish quarterback Ron Powlus, rolling right, was hit by defensive tackle Joe Suhajda and fumbled, and linebacker Alex Pupich recovered.

Air Force then took possession on Notre Dame's 25. Three running plays and a Notre Dame face-mask penalty put the ball at the 5, and Thompson kicked a 22-yard field goal. But the Falcons were whistled for delay of game. Thompson then connected again from 27 yards out. The loss sent the Irish tumbling to 19th in this week's AP poll.

The upset was special for a team that had hit bottom last week in a 20-17 loss to Navy and which clearly does not match Notre Dame's talent level.

"When I went out there for our first defensive play, they looked at me and they actually snickered," the 250-pound Suhajda said. "I mean, I'm giving up 60 pounds to those guys, and they're smiling, thinking, 'Look at this guy.' "

Then, after the game, Holtz referred to Morgan's play but said, "Dee Dowis played a great game." Dowis starred for Air Force in the late 1980s.

"He may remember my name when he watches the game film," Morgan said with a smile.

The win also gave the Western Athletic Conference a huge boost, even though the WAC's record against non-conference opponents this season still is below .500 (23-25).

No. 18 Wyoming went to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the WAC's Pacific Division with a 42-21 romp over Fresno State in Laramie. San Diego State (4-1, 2-0 in Pacific) outslugged New Mexico, 48-42, in Albuquerque.

No. 21 Utah (6-1, 4-0 in Mountain Division) downed Texas Christian, 21-7 in Salt Lake City. No. 15 Brigham Young (7-1, 3-0 in Mountain) beat Tulsa, 55-30, in Tulsa.

Colorado State whipped San Jose State, 36-13, in Fort Collins, and Rice defeated Southern Methodist, 35-17 in Houston.

Josh Wallwork threw four touchdown passes, including two to running back Len Sexton, as Wyoming extended the nation's longest winning streak to 11 games. Wallwork completed 25 of 39 passes for 308 yards.

"Wallwork had five and six seconds to throw the ball," FSU coach Jim Sweeney said. "We couldn't get a pass rush on him to save our lives."

Fresno quarterback Jim Arellanes, who threw for two TDs and ran for another, passed for 306 yards - but only 41 of them in the second half.

SDSU's George Jones ended a four-game suspension by running for 187 yards and a career-tying five touchdowns. Noel Prefontaine boomed a school-record 82-yard punt in the fourth quarter, pinning New Mexico at its 3-yard line, and a resulting interception set up Jones' winning score with 5:33 left.

Former St. Louis School standout Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala rushed for 182 yards, including breakaway scoring runs of 70 and 52 yards in the second half, to spark Utah.

Steve Sarkisian threw for 329 yards and five TDs, and Brian McKenzie rushed for a career-high 132 yards to lead BYU.

At Fort Collins, Moses Moreno completed 19 of 23 passes for a career-high 359 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score as CSU (4-4, 3-1) downed San Jose.

Quarterback Chad Nelson ran for a career-best 197 yards and two TDs as Rice (3-3, 2-1) piled up 440 yards on the ground to steamroll SMU.




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