UNLV Rebels Build Big Lead, Collapse In Loss At Air Force
The Air Force Falcons overcame a 27-point deficit Saturday against the UNLV Rebels.
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The UNLV Rebels found a new way to lose Saturday against the Air Force Falcons.
UNLV is in trouble.
The up and down roller coaster that is Rebels football established a different kind of low on Saturday. UNLV built a 27-0 second-quarter lead before they were overcome by the Air Force Falcons in the final minutes in a 34-30 loss Saturday in Colorado Springs.
The loss drops the Rebs to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the Mountain West Conference. It’s the second straight loss for UNLV, who now must win four of its final six games if they’re to reach bowl eligibility. Air Force improved to 2-4 overall, 1-2 in the MWC.
The First Half Was Very Good
The Rebels first half against Air Force was arguably its best half of football all season.
Lexington Thomas was the best version of himself. Less than two minutes into the first quarter he ripped off a 55-yard run to put the Rebels on top, 7-0. A 1-yard touchdown run from Xzaviar Campbell, two Evan Pantels field goals, and a 3-yard TD scamper from quarterback Armani Rogers stretched the UNLV lead to 27-0 with under four minutes remaining in the first half.
Air Force finally got on the board when Arion Worthman punctuated a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a 14-yard TD run with 42 seconds remaining.
The Second Half Was Very Bad
Air Force gave UNLV every opportunity to extend that big halftime lead early in the second half.
The Falcons fumbled on their first play from scrimmage, but UNLV quickly went three and out. The Falcons again fumbled on their very next offensive snap, and the Rebels were able to turn that into a 34-yard Pantels field goal, extending the UNLV lead to 30-7.
Then the wheels fell off.
The Falcons scored touchdowns on three straight possessions and with Air Force focusing on Lexington Thomas in the backfield, the Rebels were forced to punt three straight times.
Still, with under seven minutes remaining, UNLV was clinging to a 30-27 lead in Air Force territory. Rogers was able to scramble for 21 yards before the ball was punched loose by Grant Ross. Several Rebels had the opportunity to fall on the fumble, they instead tried to pick up the ball, and the wild play ended up with Shaquille Vereen of Air Force falling on the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
Ten plays, 80 yards, and 3:40 later Worthman scored for the Falcons from a yard out, his fifth touchdown of the day, completing the comeback and giving Air Force a 34-30 lead.
UNLV advanced the ball to their own 47-yard line before they were unable to convert on fourth down.
The comeback is the second biggest in Air Force history. In 1996 the Falcons overcame a 28-point deficit against Fresno State.
Arion Worthman finished with 166 yards rushing. Lexington Thomas rushed 17 times for 91 yards.
UNLV returns to Las Vegas for an afternoon matchup with Utah State next Saturday. Air Force has a Friday evening meeting at Nevada.