Rebels end season on a winning note, 42-39

Mike Sanford's UNLV Rebels will enter the 2007 season with a one-game winning streak. That sounds a heck of a lot better than a potential 11-game losing streak that was starring the Rebels in the face before they scored a wild 42-39 upset of Air Force on Friday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Sophomore quarterback Rocky Hinds led the way, completing 26 of 34 passes for 351 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 45 more yards on five carries as UNLV rolled up 555 yards in total offense and 30 first downs.

"That was a lot of fun," Sanford said with a smile.

"We've been trying to get over the top of the mountain. I think we've been there, we've been fighting, we've been competing but we haven't gotten over the top. We haven't done the things in the critical situation to win. And tonight we did. And that's something our guys will take with them into next year."

Freshman wide receiver Ryan Wolfe caught six passes for 108 yards and sophomore Casey Flair had a game-high eight receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Rebels also got big games from sophomore running back David Peeples (24 carries for 95 yards, two touchdowns) and junior wide receiver Aaron Straiten (five catches for 78 yards and a touchdown).

UNLV (2-10, 1-7) led at halftime, 26-24, on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Hinds to Straiten on the final play of the half. But Air Force, behind the play of junior quarterback Shaun Carney (10 of 18 passes, 211 yards, four touchdowns), regained the lead early in the third quarter, 31-26, on a one-yard run by Carney.

The Rebel defense stiffened after that and UNLV went on a 16-0 scoring run to take a 42-31 lead. Sergio Aguayo's 21-yard field goal with 3:44 left in the game capped an impressive 13-play, 65-yard march that ate 7:23 off the clock and ended the scoring spurt.

Air Force (4-7, 3-4) made things interesting at the end when Carney hit split end Victor Thompson with a five-yard scoring pass with 2:26 to go and then converted on a two-point conversion when 6-foot-8 tackle Robert Kraay took Carney's crossfield lateral and rambled into the end zone to cut the UNLV lead to a field goal, 42-39. But Eric Wright recovered Zach Sasser's onside kick and the Rebels ran out the clock.

"It has been way too long between wins," Wolfe said. "This is a good stepping stone for next year. All the receivers are coming back next year and it gives us some life in the offseason."

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