LAS VEGAS — Brad Roberts and the Air Force ground attack were nearly unstoppable Friday night.
The Air Force running game pounded out 406 yards, including 144 and four touchdowns by Roberts, in routing UNLV 42-7 before an announced Rebels’ homecoming crowd of 23,847 at Allegiant Stadium.
It was the second consecutive loss for the Rebels, both in the Mountain West, who are 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference. The Rebels opened the season by winning four of five, but they’ve been humbled the past two weeks, first by San Jose State and then Friday night by Air Force (5-2, 2-2).
In addition to its grinding ground game, Air Force had the advantage of four UNLV turnovers, including two fumbles and an interception by quarterback Cameron Friel. Air Force turned each turnover into a touchdown.
“Disappointed in the way we took care of the ball offensively and put ourselves behind the stakes, that’s the bottom line,” Rebels coach Marcus Arroyo said. “I’m disappointed in the way we started the game, moved the ball and didn’t take care of it. We’ve done a good job this season, for the most part, but you can’t put yourself behind the eight ball versus a team that is that effective.”
Roberts, a senior from Arvada, Colorado, carried 29 times with TD runs of 5, 5, 3 and 3 yards. His final TD burst capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive on which he carried the ball on each play.
The Falcons got 116 yards on eight carries from John Lee Eldrige, including a 60-yard TD run for a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter.
Air Force quarterback Haaziq Daniels passed twice, completing one. Last season, Air Force beat UNLV without attempting a single pass. The Falcons have won five straight against UNLV.
Cameron Friel completed 8 of 10 passes for 108 yards, including a 31-yard scoring strike to Ricky White with a minute left in the first half. UNLV was held to 179 yards in total offense and loss standout running back Aidan Robbins to injury. He left in the opening quarter and did not return.
Air Force had a huge advantage in time of possession, 43:10 to 16:50. The Falcons finished with 406 rushing yards on 76 carries. UNLV was held to 179 yards of offense.
“We knew we just had to get back to running the ball and running it effectively,” said Roberts, whose Falcons were coming off a disappointing 34-27 to Utah State, when they rushed for 262 yards. “We really emphasized that this week in practice.”