LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Air Force backup quarterback Kale Pearson took just one snap against Wyoming, but it turned out to be the biggest and most controversial of the game.
Pearson scored on a 5-yard bootleg in the fourth quarter, lifting the Falcons over the Cowboys 28-27 Saturday night.
"The hardest part right there is just getting the snap," Pearson said. "Coming in, first play, you got your nerves goin', but actually I did my job, and I knew everybody else would do theirs."
Connor Dietz, who left the game for one play because of an injury, passed for 141 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons (3-3, 2-1 Mountain West). Dietz rushed for 92 yards.
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen was visibly upset with Falcons coach Troy Calhoun after the game.
Christensen later questioned whether Dietz was injured, noting the quarterback walked about 20 yards before taking a knee near the Falcons sideline. He said the several minutes that trainers attended to Dietz gave Air Force time to strategize the next play.
"There was nothing wrong with that player, except that his helmet came off," Christensen said. "And I have a real problem with that."
About eight minutes remained in the game, and the Falcons had all three timeouts remaining.
Before Pearson entered, the referee announced that Dietz, by rule, had to leave the game because his helmet came off.
"In this game we're supposed to be ethical, and that's not ethical," Christensen said. "I don't know what they teach at Air Force, but I'm not going to teach that to my kids. I want my guys to get off the field when they're hurt, and we don't want to stop the game."
Calhoun declined to discuss incident in detail with media.
However, he described the conversation with Christensen as "probably not a conversation that I'd have with my mom . not that kind of dialogue."
Wyoming (1-5, 0-2) played without starting quarterback Brett Smith, who was scratched just before the game because of an undisclosed injury. Entering the weekend, Smith was ranked ninth in the nation in total offense, averaging 336 yards a game.
Smith was replaced by freshman Jason Thompson, who passed for 195 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 75 yards.