MWC Roundup

Sep 162003
Authors: Joelle Milholm

It was a week of upsets, close calls, blowouts and tough losses in the Mountain West and fans enjoyed every last bit of it.

UNLV treated Wisconsin Badger fans to a 23-5 beating in Madison, Wisc., – the nation’s top rated college sports town according to Sports Illustrate on Campus.

Brigham Young won the first conference game of the season over New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M., while Utah used a late drive to defeat Cal-Berkeley, which fell to an MWC opponent for the second consecutive week.

Air Force and San Diego State took advantage of overmatched opponents, while Wyoming ran out of time mounting a late comeback against Kansas. Here are the details of the week that was in the MWC.

UNLV removed Wisconsin from the AP Top 25, crushing them 23-5 and holding the Badgers to only 187 yards in total offense.

Rebel strong safety Jamaal Brimmer returned a fumble for a touchdown, set up two touchdowns on two interceptions, had two sacks, and 11 tackles in a performance that landed him MWC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

“He has a sense of the game,” UNLV coach John Robinson said of Brimmer in a press release. “He is a wonderful player. He is one of the most instinctive players I have ever coached.”

Wisconsin’s quarterback Jim Sorgi was sacked nine times, had two of the teams five turnovers, and overthrew his receivers eight times. The Badgers offense also struggled after losing running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Anthony Davis in the second series of the game when he sprained his left ankle.

UNLV will now look to host former WAC rival Hawaii (1-1) Friday night in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.

In the first MWC head-to-head match up, BYU (2-1, 1-0 MWC) defeated New Mexico (1-2, 0-1) 10-7. Cougar running back Reynaldo Brathwaite earned MWC Offensive Player of the Week honors by rushing for a career high 169 yards on 19 carries, including an 89-yard run that helped put BYU up 10-0 at halftime.

New Mexico pulled within three in the third quarter when quarterback Casey Kelly drove the Lobos down the field on a 66-yard pass to Adrian Boyd that set up a three-yard touchdown run by DonTrell Moore.

BYU lost quarterback Matt Berry to a wrist injury in the second quarter and back up Todd Mortensen only managed 44 yards in the defensive battle in which punts ended 20 offensive possessions.

New Mexico now travels to No. 24 Washington State (2-1), who is coming fresh off their pounding of Colorado, in the toughest MWC match up of the week.

BYU will return to Provo, Utah for a never-before-seen match up against Stanford (1-0), whose only victory came against San Jose State on Sept. 6.

Utah beats California on game-winning drive

Running back Brandon Whitfield put the Utes (2-1) ahead on a 14-yard touchdown run to make the score 31-24 with a little over a minute left in the game to beat California (1-2).

Utah led 21-7 at halftime, but Cal scored 17 straight points in the third quarter to make the score 24-21. A Utah field goal tied the game and the Utes shutdown the Cal offense in the fourth quarter to hold onto the victory.

Whitfield finished the game with three touchdowns and 94 yards, 46 of which were gained on the final drive.

Alex Smith went 18-for-27 for 136 yards and had one touchdown run in his first start for Utah after filling in for Brett Elliot who broke his wrist last week against Texas A&M.

Utah will have a week off before returning to play on Sept. 27 to face Colorado State in Fort Collins.

Air Force remains unbeaten

Air Force (3-0) took their game plan to the air as Chance Harridge went 10-for-15 with 156 yards and threw for three touchdown passes as the Falcons beat North Texas 34-21.

North Texas came out strong and took an early 7-6 lead, but Air Force rallied to score 28 straight points to regain the lead and never looked back. Air Force’s running game came into the game ranked third in the nation, but rushed for 50 yards less than its season average of 325.

The Falcons took advantage of an injury to North Texas’ running back Patrick Cobbs and held his replacement Kevin Moore to 33 yards on 14 carries.

Air Force will host Wyoming this weekend in hopes of some redemption after losing to the Cowboys 34-26 last year.

San Diego State shuts out UTEP

San Diego State proved why its defense is ranked No. 6 in the nation as they forced six UTEP turnovers in the Aztecs 34-0 victory. UTEP (0-3) became the latest victim in San Diego’s streak of 121 minutes and 20 seconds of play without allowing an opponent to score an offensive touchdown.

San Diego (2-1) was lead by quarterback Matt Dlugolecki who went 18-for-28 for 180 yards. Running back Lynell Hamiton also contributed to the offensive attack by rushing for 107 yards on 22 carries.

San Diego will host Samford on Saturday. Samford (2-0) has a strong offense, averaging 37.5 points a game and should be a good test for the Aztec defense.

Comeback falls short for Wyoming

Wyoming outscored Kansas 21-7 in the second half, but came up one touchdown short in the 42-35 loss to the Jayhawks.

The game was tied at 14 in the first half, but Kansas scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a 35-14 lead into halftime. Quarterback Casey Bramlet carried the Wyoming offense by going 33-for-46 for 328 yards and four touchdowns.

Wyoming (1-2) suffered its second loss to a Big 12 team (Oklahoma State and Kansas) and Kansas (2-1) earned its second MWC victory, including its 46-24 victory over UNLV.

Wyoming will travel to the Air Force Academy this weekend in its first MWC match up. The MWC showdown is the only conference action of the week.

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