Air Force 25, UNLV 24
Sep. 13, 1997
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) _ Tim Curry blocked two kicks and Spanky Gilliam scored on a 1-yard plunge with 2:35 left, helping Air Force rally for a 25-24 victory over UNLV on Saturday.
Gilliam's score and Alex Wright's extra point enabled Air Force to stay unbeaten (3-0 overall, 2-0 in Western Athletic Conference).
UNLV (0-2, 0-1), which held a 14-0 first-quarter lead, withstood a third-quarter Air Force comeback and moved to a 24-18 lead with two scores early in the fourth quarter.
Rodrick Johnson capped an 80-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run on the first play of the final quarter. Moments later, the Rebels drove to the Air Force 8 before settling for Tim O'Reilly's 25-yard field goal with 8:11 to go.
The Falcons, who routed UNLV 65-17 last year and were 20-point favorites in this game, then mounted a 15-play, 80-yard drive for the clinching score. Halfback Tobin Ruff, who earlier scored two touchdowns, ran 20 yards on a pitchout and later gained 10 yards on third-and-1, and Gilliam capped the march.
The Rebels moved to their 39 in the waning seconds, but a 22-yard holding penalty thwarted that threat.
UNLV's Jon Denton, who completed 23-of-41 passes for 333 yards, threw TD passes of 21 yards to Todd Floyd and 82 yards to Len Ware in the opening period.
After a field goal in the second quarter, the Falcons took an 18-14 lead on Ruff's two scores in a span of 2:27 of the third period. Ruff ran 9 yards for his first score and added a 2-point conversion on a pitchout from Blane Morgan.
Moments later, Curry, who earlier blocked a field-goal attempt, blocked Joe Kristosik's punt, and teammate Frank Staine-Pyne recovered at the UNLV 8. Ruff scored three plays later on a 4-yard run with 3:57 left in the period.
The Rebels, who had the worst defense in the nation last year (543 yards per game), held the potent Air Force wishbone to 312 yards, including 250 on the ground. UNLV finished with 378 yards.