Video Credit: Mountain West Conference

FSM Essential Recap – UNLV Rebels vs Air Force Falcons – Week 13 – 2023


UNLV sits alone atop the Mountain West Conference standings after a 31-27 win over the Air Force Falcons on Saturday.

The UNLV Rebels took on the Air Force Falcons on Saturday!

UNLV vs Air Force | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

Winning is tough. It isn’t easy, and it hurts. For years, fans of UNLV Football have had to endure countless heartaches and near misses. Even this season, there have been instances that still trigger UNLV faithful.

But the “wait until next year,” “have patience because it takes time to build a program” days are officially over. 

On Saturday, the Rebels went to Colorado Springs to take on Air Force. A lot was on the line since the winner would secure a spot in the Mountain West Conference championship game. 

The Rebels were looking to secure the spot in a place where they haven’t won since 2013. it was also against the team whose offense has dominated UNLV throughout the last two seasons, rushing for over 900 yards and 12 touchdowns in two games.

To say that this is a season of exorcising demons and clearing the skeletons out of the closet would be an understatement for this UNLV team. Not only have they done that, but it also seems like they are making school history along the way.

What Barry Odom has done since taking over the program has been remarkable. This Rebels team has no quit in them. Even when they’re down, there is still a belief that they will find a way to come back and win. 

They have taken on the personality of their head coach. Barry Odom, who should be garnering national Coach of the Year award consideration, has more than earned a potential raise and has shown why he is one of the better coaches in the country.

After Saturday’s game, there is no doubt that UNLV is the class of the Mountain West Conference this season.

UNLV beat Air Force on Saturday afternoon.

There was a lot on the line in the UNLV Rebels vs Air Force Falcons game. 

UNLV Rebels vs Air Force Falcons was a war from the start of the game on Saturday.

UNLV vs Air Force | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

Saturday afternoon, Ricky White III set the tone for the Rebels on the game’s second offensive play for UNLV. He caught a 78-yard touchdown pass from Jayden Maiava to give the Rebels an early 7-0 lead.

UNLV forced Air Force to punt the ball for a second time. On the issuing drive, Maiava connected with Senika McKie, who made an outstanding one-handed catch for a first down. A couple of plays later. Jacob De Jesus also caught a one-handed ball, and the Rebels were again deep into Falcons territory.

But Maiava threw an interception, killing the drive, and from that point on, a dogfight ensued.

Air Force scored 24 unanswered points to take a 24–7 lead until late in the second quarter. On their last possession before halftime, UNLV drove down the field and scored another touchdown, this time by running back Vincent Davis Jr., to cut the Air Force lead to 24-14. 

Air Force kicked the field goal just before halftime to take a 27–14 lead into the locker room. But the Rebels got the ball to start the second half hour, looking to set the tone early in the third quarter.

UNLV, once again, drove down the field quickly, this time with an 84-yard reception by tight end Kaleo Ballungay, whose reception took the rebels down to the 1-yard line. Donavyn Lester scored from one-yard out to cut the Air Force lead to 27–21.

Later in the third quarter, Maiava hooked up with Ballungay for a 6-yard TD. UNLV now led 28–27. it was time to strap up because the roller coaster ride was about to take place.

Each team’s defense stepped up in the fourth quarter, but UNLV managed a 39-yard field goal by Jose Pizano to take a 31–27 lead with 10:53 left in the game.

The Rebels‘ defense came up big numerous times, but none more significant than the fourth down with under 30 seconds left in the game to secure the 31–27 win for UNLV.

Receiver Ricky White III led UNLV against Air Force on Saturday.

The defense and special teams came up big for UNLV vs Air Force. A couple of players stood out and made huge plays down the stretch for the Rebels.

UNLV took on Air Force in Colorado Springs on Saturday

UNLV vs Air Force | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

Jackson Woodard, Marsel McDuffie, and the Rebels defensive line came up big in the second half, shutting out Air Force. In total, the UNLV defense held Air Force to just 60 passing yards and 3/14 on third down efficiency.

The Rebels, on the other hand, had 465 total yards, 351 in the air, and 114 on the ground with a 7.4 yards per play average. 

Ricky White led the way with eight receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown. Jayden Maiava was 15–29 for 339 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 36 yards rushing on eight carries. Ballungay had 90 yards receiving on two receptions and a touchdown.

Marsel McDuffie led the way with 15 tackles, five of them assisted, while Jackson Woodard had five tackles, four assisted, to go along with a sack. Also, a player whose name won’t show up in the stash sheet but made huge plays all game long by doing the dirty work was Elijah Shelton.

Next Saturday is the game that the City of Las Vegas has been waiting for. It’s time for the city to come out and support the UNLV Football team during this fantastic season they put together in their final home game on senior night, with a lot riding on the table.

The final score was 31-27, UNLV over the Air Force Falcons.

UNLV will now take on San Jose State next week at Allegiant Stadium, with the kickoff at noon. With a win against the Spartans, UNLV will host the Mountain West Championship game on December 2nd.


– Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Joe on all social media: @JoeArrigoFSM

Follow The Franchise on social media