Air Force reach first nine-loss season since 1980 in 41-21 loss to UNLV

The disappointment of a second consecutive losing season finally got to Troy Calhoun.

The seventh-year was upset after Air Force's 41-21 defeat to UNLV on Thursday night, giving the Falcons their first nine-loss season since 1980.

"We've had close to 70 practices since the beginning of August and you get close to 100 team reps each day at practice and this how they respond," Calhoun said. "There is no darn way they shouldn't perform at a decent level."

Air Force is not bowl-eligible for the first time in seven years and suffered back-to-back losses to UNLV for the first time since 2000 and 2001.

"We have to play like they (the players) are capable of playing," Calhoun said. "I think the old explanation that maybe he's that age or this class or whatever, no way!"

Tim Cornett rushed for a career-high 220 yards and four touchdowns and UNLV (6-5, 4-3 Mountain West) became bowl eligible for the first time since 2000.

Anthony LaCoste led Air Force (2-9, 0-7) with 75 yards on 15 carries and became the 41st Falcons player to surpass the 1,000-yard plateau.

"We made mistakes early and we didn't play well," LaCoste said. "It set us up for failure the rest of the games."

Temperatures in the single digits, a wind chill below zero and a snow-covered field didn't slow Cornett, UNLV's all-time leading rusher. He crossed the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season while notching his 16th career 100-yard game.

The Rebels turned a blocked punt and fumble recovery into touchdowns to build a 27-0 lead.

Air Force cut the Rebels' lead to 33-21 with 5:18 remaining in the third, but Cornett's 46-yard touchdown run with 2:03 left in the fourth put the game out of reach.

UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring added first-quarter touchdown runs of 1 yard and 6 yards to help the Rebels build a 27-0 lead. Devante Davis had six catches for 75 yards to become just the seventh Rebels receiver to reach 1,000 yards in a single season.

The Rebels racked up a season-high 330 yards rushing and capitalized on Air Force's miscues.

Just about the only thing holding UNLV back was its kicking game. Alex Hansen blocked two of Nolan Kohorst's extra-point attempts in the first half, and Kohorst missed a 29-yard field goal with 8:59 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons took the ensuing drive and marched 80 yards in 10 plays to pull within 12 on a 1-yard touchdown run by D.J. Johnson.

The Rebels had a chance to add to their lead early in the fourth, but Shaquille Murray-Lawrence fumbled on third-and-goal from the 1 and Air Force's Donnie Wharton recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

It was all UNLV early on. Trent Langham blocked David Baska's punt attempt after Air Force's opening drive stalled 2:29 into the game, and the Rebels' David Greene returned the ball to the Falcons 30-yard line.

Cornett scored from 22 yards out two plays later, and UNLV led 6-0. The Rebels turned favorable field position into another first-quarter score with 4:29 remaining on Herring's 1-yard touchdown plunge.

Air Force continued to be its own worst enemy in the opening quarter. Running back Jon Lee couldn't handle a high pitch from quarterback Nate Romine on an option off right tackle and UNLV's Tim Hasson recovered the ball on the Falcons 48.

Herring made it 20-0 Rebels four plays later on a diving touchdown run with 1:47 remaining, and Cornett's 7-yard touchdown run with 9:47 left in the second quarter gave UNLV its 27-0 lead. The Rebels' three first-quarter scoring drives took a total of 3:59.

Air Force finally got on the scoreboard with 8:59 remaining in the first half when Romine hit Alex Ludowig for a 31-yard touchdown pass. Broam Hart added a 1-yard touchdown run for the Falcons with 8 seconds remaining in the first half, and UNLV led 33-14 at the break.