Air Force sophomore quarterback Tim Jefferson pitched the ball to Asher Clark on an option right and then watched Clark attack the UNLV defense. He saw some daylight, but mostly traffic ahead of the tailback.
“I was like, ‘He’s going to go about maybe 5 or 10 yards and get tackled,’ ” Jefferson said.
But Clark spun out of a tackle, cut inside to avoid two other defenders and then cut back outside and outran the rest of the Rebels to the end zone.
“I was like, ‘That did not just happen,’ ” Jefferson said.
It did, and the 40-yard touchdown run served as the perfect exclamation point for a standout performance by Clark. He picked up a career-high 160 yards and a career-high three touchdowns on 18 carries as the Falcons defeated UNLV 45-17.
After struggling with a shoulder injury during the middle of the season and failing to rush for 40 or more yards in five straight games, Clark has compiled 317 and five touchdowns on 41 carries the past three weeks.
“I definitely feel healthy,” Clark said. “It’s just good to go into a game and not have to worry about any injuries or any nagging problems.”
And it’s good for the Falcons’ offense. Air Force made two plays of 30 or more yards in its first seven games against Football Championship Subdivision teams. Clark has run for two touchdowns of more than 30 yards the last two weeks.
“You get plays like that when he’s healthy,” Jefferson said.
Offensive line shines
In Saturday night’s 45-17 victory over UNLV, Air Force went on touchdown drives of 95, 80, 80 and 72 yards.
Coach Troy Calhoun gave his offensive line, which includes five senior starters, credit for the long marches.
“We did some good stuff (on offense), and that means there’s some good stuff that’s happening up front,” he said. “We mentioned seniors earlier — that’s a good group. I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but somehow those five it’s OK if they stay around another year or two.”
Air Force got good production from each option in its triple-option attack. Tailback Asher Clark had 160 yards and three touchdowns, quarterback Tim Jefferson had 63 yards on eight carries and fullback Jared Tew had 61 yards and a score on 13 carries.
Soderberg moves up charts
One of the biggest questions for Air Force heading into the season was who would replace graduated kicker Ryan Harrison, who set an academy single-season record with 24 field goals in 2008.
Erik Soderberg has delivered an emphatic answer.
With two games left, the sophomore needs just four more field goals to match Harrison’s mark. Soderberg made his lone attempt in Saturday’s victory, a 34-yarder, and is 20-for-26 this season.
Soderberg has made eight of his last nine attempts, with his lone miss coming from 59 yards.
First down Fogler
Kevin Fogler continued to make the most of limited chances.
The junior receiver made three catches for a game-high 73 yards, and all of his catches resulted in first downs for the Falcons. For the season, 17 of Fogler’s 20 receptions have gone for first downs or touchdowns.
Too many points
If Mike Sanford does keep his job at UNLV, he’ll have to go back to the drawing board on defense. Saturday’s game was UNLV’s sixth in its past eight in which it yielded 30 or more points and the fourth in which it yielded 41 or more.