Air Force triumphs in last 2009 home game, 45-17
By Staff Sgt. Don Branum, U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
/ Published November 14, 2009
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force gained more than 550 yards of total offense and held the UNLV Rebels to less than 300 total yards in a 45-17 rout at Falcon Stadium here Nov. 14.
The Falcons took a 7-0 lead on a 95-yard drive and never looked back. Running back Asher Clark capped the drive with a 24-yard touchdown run, the first of a career-high three rushing touchdowns for Clark on the evening.
Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun credited his seniors with the victory.
"They're great workers and have tremendous attitudes," Coach Calhoun said. "I just love how assertive they've been as leaders. That's absolutely the way it should be at the Air Force Academy. What's really neat is for these 15 seniors to be able to conclude the games they've played at Falcon Stadium this way."
Once Air Force took the lead, it never gave it back. The Rebels didn't score a touchdown until halfway through the third quarter, when UNLV quarterback Omar Clayton connected on a pass to Phillip Payne on fourth and 6 from the Falcons' 30.
The Rebels' first points came from the Falcons' only turnover -- a fumble by Air Force kick returner Ryan Lindsey that gave UNLV the ball at the Air Force 20. But the Falcons' defense held firm, forcing the Rebels to settle for a field goal. The Rebels threatened to score a touchdown later in the second quarter, but Falcons defensive back intercepted Clayton in the end zone.
"We had a chance to get back into the game right before halftime," said UNLV head coach Mike Sanford. "We had a chance to go 17-10, and we were inside the (red zone) and threw an interception. It turned out to be a big momentum turning point. ... I do think the game would have been different if we had scored there."
The Falcons' rushing offense, ranked fourth best in the nation, gained 431 yards against the Rebels. Asher Clark had a career-high 160 yards rushing in his first 100-plus-yard game of the season, including a season-long 40-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the game-ending score. Jared Tew gained 61 yards on 13 carries, giving him more than 1,000 career rushing yards.
"We did not stop the run tonight, and that was something we had to do," said Coach Sanford, who's been under fire after a 63-28 loss to Nevada-Reno Oct. 3 and a 59-21 loss to BYU Oct. 10. The loss to Air Force knocks UNLV out of bowl game contention for the second straight season.
Jefferson was 8-of-13 for 126 yards, his second-best passing yardage of the season and the third straight game he's passed for 100 yards or more. His season-best 136 yards came against Army here Nov. 7. Jefferson's 63 rushing yards on eight carries is also a season high for the sophomore from Atlanta.
UNLV had 282 yards of total offense, evenly balanced between rushing and passing yards. Clayton was 9-of-18 for 108 yards and a touchdown. He and backup quarterback Mike Clausen were UNLV's leading rushers, with 56 and 60 yards, respectively.
Air Force will go to Provo, Utah, for their last game of the season against Mountain West Conference opponent BYU Nov. 21. The Falcons are 7-4 on the season and 5-2 in the MWC. The Cougars are 8-2 (5-1).