Falcons close season with 35-20 win over UNLV

By Master Sgt. Christopher DeWitt: U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs

LAS VEGAS — The Air Force Falcons won their final game of the season Nov. 18 after defeating the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels, 35-20.

Jonathan Warzeka scored on a 54-yard touchdown run to regain the lead in the second half and jump-start the triple option for Air Force to win the game.

The Falcons’ senior linebacker, Andre Morris Jr., intercepted a Rebel pass on the second play of the game, setting up a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tim Jefferson to wide receiver Zack Kauth. Zack Bell’s extra point gave the Falcons a 7-0 lead just over two minutes into the first quarter.

UNLV, however, went on a scoring spree, putting up 17 unanswered points. After a fumble by Academy senior running back Nathan Walker was recovered on the Las Vegas 4-yard line, UNLV drove the length of the field, capping their drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Rebel freshmen quarterback Tim Cornett. Nolan Kohorst tied the game 7-7 with his extra point attempt.

UNLV extended their lead with a 32-yard field goal by Kohorst and a 5-play, 84-yard scoring drive capped off with a 36-yard touchdown reception to Phillip Payne, giving the Rebels a 17-7 lead over the Falcons.

Air Force responded before the close of the half with another run-heavy drive, culminated by a 1-yard keeper by Jefferson to send the Falcons into halftime with a three-point deficit.

After some halftime adjustments, the Falcons scored twice in the third quarter, with one touchdown by Warzeka and another later when Jefferson dove into the end zone on a 2-yard run. Bell converted both extra points, giving the Falcons a 28-17 lead.

UNLV was held to another 32-yard field goal by Kohorst, which would be their final score of the evening, closing out the third quarter 28-20.

“They’re awfully good running the ball,” said UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck, of the Falcons’ ability to rack up 169 yards in the third quarter. “It is tiring when they keep hammering the fullback and running their style. It’s a hard offense, and as the plays mount, it’s difficult.”

Air Force added one more score when Jefferson crossed the end zone on a two-yard dive for his third rushing touchdown, tying a season high for the junior. Bell’s extra point put the Falcons up 35-20 to put the final nail in the Rebels’ coffin.

The win over UNLV ends the Falcons’ regular season at 8-4. After a few days to shake off the bumps and bruises of a short week, followed by the Thanksgiving break, the team will turn its attention to finishing out the academic semester and awaiting an invitation to a bowl game.

The Mountain West Conference has four teams that are currently bowl eligible: TCU, Utah, San Diego State and Air Force. A fifth mountain west team, BYU, can become bowl eligible with a win Nov. 20 over New Mexico, which is 1-9.

The conference has contracts for five bowl games: the Las Vegas Bowl, the Poinsettia Bowl, the Independence Bowl, the Armed Forces Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. With several games remaining for other Mountain West teams, it’s too early to predict in which bowl game the Falcons will wind up playing. Bowl game invitations will be made in early December.