Travis LaTendresse gains 14 yards on a pass play before being taken down by Air Force linebacker Drew Fowler (33) and John Taibi (31) during the first quarter. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
Sept. 22, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Brian Johnson passed for 305 yards and two touchdowns and ran for three scores, and Utah avoided its first losing streak in three years by beating Air Force 38-35 Thursday night.
The Utes (3-1, 1-1 Mountain West), whose 18-game winning streak was snapped a week earlier in an overtime loss at TCU, scored twice in seven seconds to break a 14-all tie and led the rest of the way.
Travis LaTendresse caught 10 passes, including a 12-yarder for a touchdown from Johnson, and finished with 139 yards for Utah after catching just eight passes in the first three games.
Johnson was 21-for-29 passing and scored on three 1-yard runs. He threw one interception, a ball tipped by a Utah player to one of the Falcons.
Ryan Williams ran for two touchdowns for Air Force (2-2, 1-2), setting one up with a 34-yard sprint up the middle on the opening drive. Adam Fitch rallied the Falcons in the fourth quarter, throwing a touchdown pass and running for a score with 1:08 remaining. But Utah recovered an onside kick for the second time in the quarter and ran out the clock.
Utah hasn't lost two games in a row since losing six straight in 2002.
After gaining 242 yards in the first half, Air Force gained just 42 in the third quarter and struggled after Johnson's 60-yard pass to Brian Hernandez with about 11 minutes left in the third quarter put Utah up 38-21.
Utah played some porous defense in the first half, then got stingy in the third quarter. It was good enough to hold off Air Force's late comeback try.
The 21 points scored in the second half were a stark contrast from the first, when Utah led 31-21 after Dan Beardall's 46-yard field goal with 3 seconds left.
Grady Marshall blocked a punt for Utah and the Utes recovered at the Air Force 33. Quinton Ganther converted on a fourth-and-1 with a 13-yard run that set up Johnson's third 1-yard scoring run, putting Utah ahead 21-14 with 5:05 left in the half.
Air Force got the ball back after a touchback, and on first down Carney made a bad pitch as he was getting hit. Weddle recovered at the 12. Johnson found LaTendresse in the end zone on first down and Utah led 28-14.
Carney and the Falcons countered with an 80-yard drive, getting to 28-21 on a reverse Greg Kirkwood took in 10 yards - thanks to a block at the goal line by Carney - with 1:09 left in the half.
LaTendresse had eight catches for the season entering Thursday and had never caught more than seven in a game.