Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009 | 2:28 a.m.
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Ryan Greene, Christine Killimayer and Rob Miech break down a 35-16 victory for the Rebels over Colorado State which was a bit tough to watch at times, but at the end of the day kept UNLV's 2009 season relevant for at least another week. Plus, a sneak peek ahead to next week's test at Air Force, where it's do-or-die all over again.
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- Opponent: Air Force (6-3)
- Date: Nov. 14, 3 p.m.
- Where: Colorado Springs, Colo.
- TV: The Mtn. (Cox Ch. 334)
- Radio: ESPN 1100 AM
- All-time series: Air Force leads, 10-4
The counting game with teammate Quinton Pointer had grown a bit tiresome during practice for UNLV senior safety Marquel Martin.
"Me and Quinton, we always count each other's drops," Martin joked following the Rebels' 35-16 triumph on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium over Colorado State. "I think that kind of competitiveness in us has been good for the team."
Now Martin has one up on Pointer in interceptions this season following his fourth quarter pick of Rams quarterback Jon Eastman.
It came with UNLV leading 21-10, set up the Rebels' fourth touchdown of the game, but in the bigger picture, was the defense's first interception in 30 quarters. The last one came against Hawaii back on Sept. 19.
Entering the game, UNLV was all alone in last out of 120 FBS programs with just two interceptions this season. The Rebels are still tied at the bottom, but at least got a little bit of a pick-me-up and snapped the skid.
"In practice, the defense, every time we make a play, we say 'Hey, we have to carry this into Saturday's game, feed off of each other.'" Martin said. "As soon as one of us made a play out there, we just go to the offense and say 'Lets go.'"
The Rebels now hope that it starts a trend in terms of takeaways.
Next week's opponent — Air Force — throws the ball fewer times per game than just about any team in the country. But UNLV would like to retain that feeling of the defense giving the offense something to build off of, rather than the other way around.
"Technique-wise and assignment-wise, the defense is getting better," senior linebacker Jason Beauchamp said. "I just feel like things are coming together now as far as the secondary, the front seven. It's just really good to see."
Showing their displeasure?
Saturday night, in the Rebels' sixth home game of the 2009 season, they played in front of their smallest home crowd yet this season.
Despite the team's struggles and fan displeasure during the middle portion of the campaign, the fact that teams such as BYU and Utah came to town — programs which traditionally travel well — have helped buoy attendance numbers.
This time around, the announced attendance 15,902 was by far the Rebels' lowest this season.
The previous low was at the season opener against Sacramento State, in which the total was announced at 22,195.
Local a bright spot for CSU
While the Rams didn't show much to write home about, senior receiver Rashaun Greer individually didn't have the worst trip back to his old stomping grounds.
The Mojave High product led CSU with seven catches for 77 yards.
In his last two outings against UNLV, he's produced 288 yards on 15 grabs. He leads the Rams this season in both receptions (38) and yards (657), but is still in search of his first score as a senior.
Around the MWC
The theme elsewhere in the Mountain West Conference on Saturday was 'Taking care of business.'
The league's 'Big Three' — TCU, Utah and BYU — all won with relative ease.
The No. 6 Horned Frogs continued on their warpath towards a BCS berth, smashing San Diego State, 55-12. They were sparked by a solid all-around day from quarterback Andy Dalton, who produced four total touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Max Hall completed 20 of 22 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns as BYU plowed Wyoming in Laramie, 52-0, and freshman Jordan Wynn's first career start at quarterback for Utah sparked the No. 17 Utes to a 45-14 home victory over winless New Mexico.
In that game, Cimarron-Memorial High grad Eddie Wide had 20 carries for 145 yards and two touchdown runs. It made him the first running back in Utah history to record six consecutive 100-yard games.
Next week's foe
Air Force has suffered in a bout with inconsistency this season, but finally seems to have righted the ship.
The Falcons earned bowl eligibility for the third consecutive season by blasting Army, 35-7.
With Connor Dietz injured, sophomore Tim Jefferson by default has regained his privileges as the Falcons' starting quarterback, and for the second week in a row came up huge.
He completed four of his seven pass attempts for 131 yards and a touchdown. He also added a two-yard scoring plunge.
Last season against UNLV, in just his second career start, he had his coming-out party, rushing for 99 yards on 13 carries while hitting on six of his seven pass attempts for 162 yards and the first two TD tosses of his career.
On the other side, Air Force enters next weekend's showdown with the nation's seventh-ranked overall defense. Troy Calhoun's club has only allowed more than 20 points one time this season, coming in a 23-16 overtime loss at Utah on Oct. 24.