Air Force Report Card: Nevada

Air Force lost a heart breaker to Nevada 45-42 on Saturday. Falcons Report's D. Yates grades Air Force's performance in several key team areas.

In his first start, Karson Roberts completed 5 of 10 passes for 55 yards a touchdown and an interception. Robert's TD pass came in the fourth quarter when he found Sam Gagliano from 23-yards out to put the Falcons on top 42-30. On the final drive of the game Roberts of 3 for 6 with the interception. Gagliano had one other catch for 3 yards and had a pass attempt completed for 23 yards to Jalen Robinette. Alex Ludowig had a pair of catches. Garrett Griffin picked up a short reception too. Seventy-eight yards may seem like a low number for passing yardage but it's not too shabby for an option team. When you also consider that Roberts was experiencing his first start after starting the season as a third stringer, it looks even better. The Falcons blockers allowed one sack during the game.

Air Force piled up 375 yards rushing on 51 carries. Roberts led the way with 23 carries for 161 and two touchdowns. The longest offensive play of the game for either team was a 70-yard run by Sam Gagliano to the Nevada 2 which put the Falcons in position for a second quarter TD. Roberts had a 60-yard run that led to a the Falcons first score of the game. Broam Hart had 88 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Jon Lee picked up 34 yards on seven carries and had a 6-yard scoring run in the first quarter. Anthony LaCoste had just two carries for nine yards but one was an 8-yard scoring run in the first half.

Air Force's defense continues to get riddled by passing teams. Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo completed 38 of 54 for 389 yards and three touchdowns. With Air Force clinging to a 42-37 lead late in the fourth quarter Fajardo led Nevada on a 50-yard scoring drive. Fajardo drove Nevada quickly to the Air Force 15 and then needed only two three passing attempts (two were completed) to get his team to Falcon 2. Then Fajardo himself put a dagger in the hearts of the Falcons with a 2-yard scoring run. Nevada converted on a 2-point attempt to take a 45-42 lead it would never lose. Veteran Christian Spears was one of the bright spots of the Falcons secondary. He had six tackles, broke up a pair of passes and had an interception. In 54 passing attempts Air Force's D-line never garnered a sack or even a quarterback hurry.

Air Force allowed Nevada 210 yards and three touchdowns rushing on 44 attempts. Kendall Brock led the Wolf Pack with 84 yards gained on 12 carries. Quarterback Cody Fajardo was effective with 81 yards on 11 carries (7.4 YPC). He had a pair of rushing scores including a 19-yard run in the third quarter and the 2-yard game winner late in the fourth. Gavin McHenry and Joey Nichol each had 11 tackles to lead Air Force.

Late in the fourth quarter, after initially muffing a kickoff return, Air Force's coverage team allowed the Wolf Pack to to recover the fumble and then return the ball to the 50. That put Nevada in good position to score the game's winning touchdown. David Baska continues to punt the ball well for the Falcons. He had three punts for a 39.7 yard average. However, one of those punts was an excellent pooch kick 33 yards that went out of bounds at the Nevada four.

Air Force had a couple of illegal substitution penalties late in the game that proved to be very costly. The Falcons only had four penalties the entire game for 20 yards so it's pretty crazy that they had back to back penalties there at such a critical time. The Falcon staff did a good job of having Karson Roberts ready with such of short window. Roberts played well and has a good future ahead of him. Defensively, Calhoun may be forced to take drastic measures as the team is showing little, if any, improvement defending against the pass.

The team played much better than the past three contests. A break or two or a lucky bounce of the ball and the Falcons would be celebrating. The good news is that Roberts looks like a full package quarterback. If Navy's Reynolds is unable to play the matchup on Saturday in Annapolis could be very interesting. Most Falcon fans would gladly trade wins in the previous three games for a win over the Mids.

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