A runaway no more, Faulk comes back to the Heisman field


SAN DIEGO -- It was Mark Moody, not Marshall Faulk, who struck a familiar pose here Saturday night. In fact, he did it twice in the fourth quarter of Air Force's 20-17 victory over San Diego State at Jack Murphy Stadium. Not that Moody has a chance to win college football's most famous trophy. That didn't deter Moody from mugging it up after helping stop Heisman Trophy front-runner Marshall Faulk on a crucial fourth-and-one with less than two minutes left in the game.

"It just got into my mind," said Moody, a 6-foot-3, 236-pound junior linebacker from San Antonio. "I feel bad about it. But I've been looking at his picture all week. My friends put one in my room. My teammates put one in my locker. He was saying, 'I'm coming at you Moody.' I was taking a lot of abuse."

Moody and his teammates gave it back to Faulk. After holding the 5-10, 180-pound tailback to 114 yards and two touchdowns as a much-ballyhooed freshman last year, the Falcons keyed on Faulk again. Now the favorite to win the Heisman, Faulk gained 129 yards on 29 attempts. He did not score.

Faulk's night included some dazzling second-effort runs in the second quarter, but it was summed up when he was stopped for a 3-yard loss on fourth-and-one at his team's 36-yard line with 1:35 remaining. The play came after a miscommunication with Aztecs quarterback David Lowery.

"We were trying to stuff it up the middle," said Air Force linebacker Virgil Simpson, who grabbed Faulk by the ankle and brought him down. "We knew all night that at any time he could break a long run."

Faulk, who came into the game with 973 yards on 140 carries and 10 touchdowns in five games, didn't break anything longer than a 20-yarder. On that play, Faulk broke a tackle 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage, bounced off his blockers and spun free for another few yards.

Considered the Heisman favorite since rushing for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Southern Cal and following it up with an eye-opening 299-yard, three-touchdown performance against BYU, Faulk has seen Georgia's Garrison Hearst narrow the gap in recent weeks.

"I don't pick up the newspapers to see what Garrison Hearst is doing," said Faulk, who had precautionary X-rays taken for his bruised ribs. "We play in two different kind of offenses, different schedules. It's hard to compare. I'll leave it to the voters. It's up to them."

Even if Faulk doesn't pick up the newspaper, he is bound to hear this week that Hearst rushed for 171 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns in Georgia's 40-7 victory at Kentucky Saturday night. Hearst now has 1,232 yards in eight games and is tied with Penn State's Richie Anderson for the nation's Division I-A touchdown lead with 16.

Still, Faulk got some unofficial votes Saturday night from the Air Force players. One of them came from Mark Moody.

"He gets my vote hands down," said Moody.

Actually, in the case of the Heisman, isn't it one hand out, one hand back?

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