Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 | 7:31 p.m.
- Box score: Air Force 45, UNLV 17 (11-13-2009)
- Live game blog: UNLV dominated by Air Force in 45-17 loss (11-13-2009)
- Take Five: Getting to know Air Force (11-13-2009)
- History shows Falcons can hurt Rebels both on ground and through air (11-12-2009)
- Mondays with Mike: UNLV’s bowl hopes face toughest remaining challenge at Air Force (11-10-2009)
- Rebels’ win raises a few what-ifs (11-09-2009)
- Rebels produce under pressure, thump Rams, 35-16
- 2009 UNLV Football Stats
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The loss dropped the Rebels’ record to 4-7 and took them out of bowl contention. It was a game full of missed opportunities and untimely mistakes.
On his postgame radio show, Sanford mentioned a number of aspects of the game that were haunting him — especially injuries.
“We’re a team that throughout this year, when we’re healthy, we can play pretty well,” Sanford said. “But when we get thinned out by injuries, things go from bad to worse. That’s what happened.”
A number of UNLV defenders were nicked up in the defeat and taken out of the game.
Sanford said those injuries were a determining factor in the game, and he criticized Air Force for playing dangerously.
“They are a team that does a lot of things — I won’t get into it right now — but a lot of things that are dangerous and unsafe,” Sanford said. “And they are not within the rules of football, and what ends up happening is you get so many guys hurt that it’s hard to replace them and get the right guys in the game to defend it. That’s what I saw happening.”
Although Sanford declined to discuss specifics, he was likely referring to the number of low blocks Air Force relies on to power its running game. Some accuse Air Force of using chop blocks, an illegal tactic where one player hits a defender high while another goes low.
“I think it was frustrating for me to keep running out there when guys were getting injured from all the stuff,” Sanford said. “That’s all I’ll say. I’d rather not get into a debate about what they do. The bottom line is they do a nice job and I’ve got to give them credit.”
Air Force ran 71 rushing plays for 431 yards, and running back Asher Clark had 160 yards and three touchdowns.
“We’ve got to stop the run,” Sanford said. “We didn’t get that done tonight.”
Clark scored the first touchdown of the game and Air Force running back Jared Tew quickly followed to make the score 14-0 in the second quarter.
Shortly thereafter, UNLV got its best chance to make the game interesting. Quarterback Omar Clayton drove UNLV down to Air Force’s 11-yard line with the score at 17-3 right before halftime.
But on the next play, Clayton threw an interception in the end zone.
“I think it would have been a different ball game — and we threw an interception,” Sanford said. “I think it was one of those scenarios where I don’t think it was a bad throw, but I don’t think Omar saw the back side linebacker coming into play.”
Instead of UNLV scoring, Air Force drove down the field and made the score 24-3 before halftime.
The Rebels never got closer than two touchdowns from the Falcons in the second half. Clayton finished 9-for-18 for 108 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
UNLV now has a bye week, before closing its season with a home game against San Diego State in two weeks.
“We’ve got to finish on a positive note,” Sanford said. “We want to win our last game for our seniors.”