(Saturday, October 30th)
Final Score: (8) Utah 28, Air Force 23
Colorado Springs, CO (Sports Network) - Eddie Wide scored twice on the ground as eighth-ranked Utah survived to take a 28-23 win over Air Force at Falcon Stadium.
Wide had 82 yards on 23 carries while Matt Asiata added 95 yards and a score on 26 totes for the Utes (8-0, 5-0 MWC), who face undefeated TCU next Saturday in front of their home crowd in a game that could go a long way towards determining the conference champion. Jordan Wynn went 15-for-23 with 148 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the win.
"Honestly, you never need close (wins)," said Wynn. "But, you've got to be able to win the close ones. That's what makes a great team. We came out of this one today. Plays happen and you just have to grind it out."
Tim Jefferson was 8-for-13 with 201 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Falcons (5-4, 3-3), who have dropped their last three games. Jefferson also had 67 yards on 16 carries with a score while Asher Clark had 11 carries for 53 yards.
Holding a four-point lead to start the second half, Utah gave itself some breathing room on its second touch of the third quarter. On the 12th play of the drive at the Air Force 36, Wynn lofted a bomb down the right sideline that Luke Matthews came down with for the score and a 21-10 lead with 4:25 left in the frame.
Brian Blechen picked off Jefferson to give Utah the ball back deep in Air Force territory, and Wide punched the ball in from a yard out for a 28-10 lead with 54 seconds left in the third. The drive featured a fake field goal that saw Joe Phillips carry the ball for seven yards on a 4th-and-4.
A pair of big plays, though, got Air Force back into the game.
Facing a 3rd-and-4 at their own 41, the Falcons made it a 28-17 game as Jefferson ran the ball around the left end and down the sideline for a 59-yard score with 11:34 left in the game.
After forcing Utah to punt, the Falcons again struck quick as on the first play Jefferson found Kyle Halderman wide open down the left sideline on a 49- yard score. The team went for two, but failed, and it was a 28-23 game with 10:22 left.
The Utes were held to a three-and-out, but then held the Falcons to a three- and-out and got the ball back near midfield with 7 1/2 minutes to play.
Utah got into scoring position and lined up for a 42-yard field goal, but Joe Phillips hit it off right post and the Falcons got the ball back at their 26 with 3:21 to play.
Utah, though, was able to stop Air Force on downs and get the ball back. The team had to punt with 28 seconds left, but the Falcons was unable to make anything happen.
"Hats off to (Air Force)," said Wynn. "They came back and played us tough and made it close. The defense did a great job of bending, but not breaking."
Air Force started with the ball, but Mikel Hunter fumbled a catch and Utah recovered at its own 32.
From there, the team went on a 13-play drive that saw the team run 12 times with Wide capping the march with a one-yard run up the middle for a 7-0 lead with 6:43 left in the first.
The Falcons, though, responded with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that saw Jonathan Warzeka take a pitch out to the left on the option and race into the end zone from 11 yards out to tie the game with 2:50 left in the first.
Air Force turned to its bag of tricks and gave itself a treat when the team recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. However, another fumbled reception saw Utah recover deep in its territory.
The Falcons were able to hold the Utes and got the ball back at the Utah 34. The team got into the red zone, but were only able to come away with three points on a 23-yard field goal from Erik Soderberg for a 10-7 lead with 11:44 left in the second.
The Utes, though, started their ensuing drive on their own 36 and over 12 plays they went the length of the field, with Asiata banging the ball into the end zone from a yard out on his second effort for a 14-10 lead with 6:22 left in the half.
Air Force faces an academy opponent next week as the team will play at West Point against the Cadets...Utah has won three straight and seven of the last eight against Air Force, but the Falcons still hold a 14-13 edge in the series...Halderman had three catches for 67 yards in the contest...Utah controlled the ball for over 36 minutes.
10/31 00:27:50 ET