Huskies Edged By Air Force In Season Opener, 20-17

Sept. 3, 2005

SEATTLE (AP) - A 13-point fourth quarter rally by Air Force spoiled the debut of Tyrone Willingham as coach at Washington.

Quarterback Shaun Carney scored on a 1-yard run with 34 seconds left, and the Falcons came from behind to beat the Huskies 20-17 on Saturday.

With Air Force down 17-13, Carney directed a 14-play, 83-yard drive that ate most of the final six minutes. The Falcons converted on fourth-and-2 with 4 minutes left after Carney scrambled for four yards.

Carney found Jason Brown for a 20-yard completion on third down, then hit Greg Kirkwood for 14-yards to the 1 on third-and-9 with 1:02 left. Carney scored two plays later.

It was a frustrating outcome for Washington, who dropped its seventh-straight dating back to last season. The Huskies last win came Oct. 9, 2004, a 21-6 win over San Jose State.

Washington went ahead 17-6 early in the fourth quarter. Isaiah Stanback, who was named the starting quarterback on Tuesday, was conservative and efficient against the Falcons' defense.

When he finally took a shot downfield, Stanback made his best throw of the day, pumping right, then coming back to the left and finding Cody Ellis for a 27-yard touchdown.

Stanback finished 19-for-27 for 242 yards in just his second start.

Air Force didn't go quietly. Kirkwood muffed the ensuing kickoff, putting the Falcons at the 1. After moving the ball to the 16, Kirkwood made up for the mistake, beating reserve cornerback Josh Okoebor for an 84-yard TD - the fourth-longest touchdown in school history.

Kirkwood finished with six catches for 134 yards. Carney rushed 20 times for 69 yards.

Clad in gold helmets, white jerseys minus names and gold pants, the Huskies looked eerily similar to Willingham's former team at Notre Dame. But a less than full Qwest Field, was hardly reminiscent of Notre Dame Stadium.

Wearing a purple golf shirt with gold trim, Willingham paced the sideline with a purposeful stride all afternoon. Willingham had won his first game with both Stanford and Notre Dame, his two previous coaching stops.

Tied 3-3 at halftime, Washington went ahead midway through the third quarter. Fullback James Sims plunged in from 1-yard, after which Willingham held his familiar poise, raising one finger in the air for the point after touchdown attempt.

Washington running back Louis Rankin had a career-high 112 yards on 23 carries.

The Falcons controlled much of the first half, but turned the ball over twice deep in Washington's end.

Washington scored on its second drive, when Evan Knudson connected on a 40-yard field goal. Air Force's Scott Eberle made a 40-yard field goal in the second quarter on his first collegiate attempt.

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