By Don Branum
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
11/22/2011 – COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AFNS) — U.S. Air Force Academy Falcon seniors went onto the field of Falcon Stadium Nov. 19 knowing they wouldn’t set foot on the turf again until graduation day. They made it a night to remember, rolling over the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels 45-17 in the 2011 Seniors Night game.
Senior running back Asher Clark accounted for a third of the Falcons’ total offense in Air Force’s last home game of the season, rushing for a career-high 169 yards to pass Beau Morgan to become Air Force’s all-time second leading rusher.
Clark, a native of Lawrenceville, Ga., now has the third most rushing yards in Mountain West Conference history behind New Mexico’s DonTrell Moore (2002-2005) and Rodney Ferguson (2004-2008).
“Our seniors made some really significant contributions tonight,” Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun said.
UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck said the lopsided win was a credit to the Falcons.
“We play against their (triple option) style of offense a lot, and we seem to prepare well,” Hauck said, but “they did a nice job tonight and had the answers needed for the win.”
Air Force took the game’s first possession and marched 80 yards on a 10-play drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by junior Wes Cobb to take an early 7-0 lead. UNLV responded with a field goal on its first drive to close within four points, which would be the closest margin of the game.
Cobb scored his second touchdown of the night on a 7-yard run set up by a 39-yard bomb from senior quarterback Tim Jefferson to senior receiver Zack Kauth, who brought a foot down in bounds after pulling in the catch. Cobb’s run gave the Falcons a 14-3 lead.
The Rebels responded with a grueling 16-play, 80-yard drive that chewed seven minutes off the game clock to come back, 14-10.
The Falcons extended their lead to 21-10 after the defense held UNLV to a three-and-out series. Chase Lansford’s 40-yard punt gave Air Force the ball at their 33. Jefferson called Clark’s number, Clark took it to the house on a 67-yard scamper — the longest run of his career.
A 68-yard drive with 1:26 to play in the first half ended with a Parker Herrington field goal, a 27-yard chip shot that was Herrington’s only success on three attempts to give the Falcons a 24-10 halftime lead.
Air Force kept the afterburners lit in the third quarter. Jon Davis returned a 33-yard punt by UNLV’s Lansford almost all the way back to the original line of scrimmage to give Air Force possession at the Rebels’ 24-yard line. Jefferson, Clark and Cobb ran the ball a short distance down field, with Jefferson vaulting the line on fourth and goal to make it 31-10. On the Falcons’ successive drive, Jefferson connected with Dontae Strickland on a 25-yard touchdown reception, the first catch of Strickland’s career, to make it 38-10.
Connor Dietz led the Falcons to their final scoring drive, which started at the UNLV 32 after the two teams traded fumbles. Mike DeWitt scored the Falcons’ final points on a two-yard run.
The Rebels’ second and last touchdown of the game came on the next drive on a five-yard quarterback keeper by Bradley Ramble. The Falcons easily recovered UNLV’s onside kick and ran out the clock to end the game.
Air Force’s discipline and performance was vastly improved from previous games, particularly its 25-17 loss to MWC rival the University of Wyoming Nov. 12, but the Falcons weren’t quite flawless on execution. Jefferson had a 71-yard touchdown run called back on a holding penalty, and Cody Getz lost a fumble in the fourth quarter.
The win lifts the Falcons out of the MWC cellar to a 2-4 conference record and an overall 6-5 record.