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Thunder and Lightning Strike UNLV, 42-7

Rebels can’t stop Roberts and Eldridge

The dominant Army team of the 1940’s called their dynamic duo of running backs Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside. Air Force fans wouldn’t go for terms as mundane as that and have begun referring to FB Brad Roberts and TB John Lee Eldridge as Thunder and Lightning. On Saturday, UNLV got a heaping dose of both as Roberts hit the interior 29 times for 144 yards and 4 TDs and Eldridge swept around the edges 8 times for 116 yards and one 60 yard touchdown, leading the Falcons to a 42-7 victory.

Defense also played a large part in the victory. DC Brian Knorr’s group had it’s most disruptive performance of the year, forcing 3 fumbles and intercepting a pass. The Rebels only managed 179 yards of total offense while controlling the ball for a little under 17 minutes. Replacing an injured Alec Mock, Johnathan Youngblood led the team with 6 tackles and forced the fumble on the first UNLV drive of the game that led to the Falcon’s first touchdown. Sophomore Jamari Bellamy, who has been seeing more playing time at cornerback lately, got the first interception of his career when he stepped in front of the receiver early in the second half.

The Falcons first drive of the second half was a classic:

  1. Roberts rush middle for 8 yards
  2. Roberts rush right for 8 yards
  3. Roberts rush middle for 8 yards
  4. Roberts rush middle for 9 yards
  5. Roberts rush right for 6 yards
  6. Roberts rush middle for 6 yards
  7. Roberts rush middle for 8 yards
  8. Roberts rush middle for 7 yards
  9. Roberts rush left for 8 yards
  10. Roberts rush middle for 4 yards
  11. Roberts rush middle for 3 yards, touchdown


Turnovers are the most unpredictable part of football. Certainly in certain years teams acquire or lose the knack holding onto the ball and taking it away. Up until this game, UNLV had been one of the better teams in college football at turnover margin, and the Falcons had been mediocre at best. Reversion to the mean is a real phenomena when it comes to turnovers. Football forecaster Phil Steele uses turnover reversion to the mean in his magazine preview every year. If a team was “lucky” enough to benefit with a wide turnover margin one year, he marks them down the next year as unlikely to have that benefit the next year.

The Falcons benefitted this game from turnovers, they suffered from it last game. What determines most games is executing the offensive and defensive schemes at the highest level possible. That 11 yard drive shown above is an indicator that the Falcons were doing what they needed to do. Virtually all of the analytic systems I see on Twitter or on the internet have Air Force as the most efficient team in the Mountain West. The goal for the future should be to always execute at the highest level.

It was encouraging to see several of the injured players returning for this game. DeAndre Hughes, Kyle Patterson, and Zach Larrier saw playing time on offense. Michael Mack returned on defense. Alec Mock and Dane Kinnamon are the two starters that are still out of action.

Next Saturday, the Falcons will host Boise State in a key game for conference title hopes. It’s a must win for the Falcons, and a win for Boise State would give them an easy path to the conference title game. Come back Thursday for my preview article.