Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009 | 2:29 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
That’s just how the ball rolls sometimes.
After a 35-16 victory over Colorado State on Saturday night kept UNLV’s slim bowl chances alive at Sam Boyd Stadium, he repeated the line when asked how a kid from Florida wound up in Las Vegas.
“UNLV stuck with me through all my troubles, man,” Pointer said slowly, as if he’d just run a marathon, “and I just came this way.”
When freshman running back Lou Greenwood came Pointer’s way in the middle of the third quarter, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior from Cape Coral, Fla., made the defensive play of the game for the Rebels.
“It was a big one, man,” Pointer said.
UNLV led, 21-7, when Colorado State drove 64 yards to the Rebels’ 12-yard line. On third-and-6, Rams quarterback Jon Eastman handed the ball to Greenwood, who tried to get around the right side.
With a first down, CSU continues a drive that could halve its deficit. With even no gain, sophomore kicker Ben DeLine boots an easy one to get the Rams within 11 with 21 minutes left to play.
Instead, Greenwood barely had the ball for two steps.
Pointer zipped in like a missile from the left side, in UNLV’s nickel package, to drill Greenwood for an 8-yard loss, and DeLine’s ensuing 37-yard attempt sailed wide of the left upright.
For a UNLV team that entered the game tied – with Bowling Green, BYU, Hawaii and Louisiana Tech – for 110th in the country in tackles for loss, that was big, indeed.
With only 120 Division-I football programs, you get the picture. Stopping the other guys only four times a game behind the line-of-scrimmage isn’t a mark of an aggressive defense.
“I couldn’t really tell you,” Pointer said of UNLV’s scant tackles for loss, sacks and interceptions. “It’s just how the ball be rolling this year. Sometimes you get ’em, sometimes you don’t. I was just excited to get a big hit.”
UNLV defensive coordinator Dennis Therrell has called more blitzes this season and this one was designed for Pointer, who came into the game having made two tackles for loss.
“I saw (Greenwood) in motion, and as soon as I saw the motion I knew they were running,” Pointer said. “I saw it come down and I tried to hit him as hard as I can. I saw him come off the edge and I shot it.
“Coach always tries to come up with different schemes to get somebody in the backfield, different types of blitzes, and it helped tonight. Once they got past the 50, we just needed a stop, man.”
CSU got a field goal from DeLine at the end of the third quarter, so had he connected after Pointer’s big play the Rams would have been a touchdown and two-pointer away from tying it.
But the Rebels kept CSU at bay and registered their first victory over the Rams in Las Vegas in eight games. Moreover, the Rams had defeated the Rebels in 12 of their past 13 meetings.
But the pattern that continued was the Rams’ losing streak, which hit seven games.
CSU (3-7, 0-6 in the Mountain West Conference) can’t go bowling. UNLV (4-6, 2-4) plays Air Force in Colorado next Saturday and finishes the regular season against San Diego State at Sam Boyd on Nov. 28.
“Air Force is a real good team,” Pointer said. “We have to go to work and prepare real hard. We believe, man.”
After senior free safety Marquel Martin picked off an Eastman pass early in the fourth quarter, UNLV used seven plays to march 34 yards for a touchdown that gave it a 28-10 edge.
The Rebels entered the game with only three picks, tied at the very bottom of D-I football with Florida Atlantic and Stanford.
Sometimes you get ’em …
By the end of the game, CSU seemed to be going to the left on every play. Huffing and puffing, Pointer had his hands on his hips and gulped down air, and he welcomed the action.
Elbow and shoulder injuries hindered his early career, but teammates still knew he delivered a heavy lick. In addition, he led the Rebels with 36 solo tackles entering the Rams’ game.
Winded late against CSU, he thought about enduring all those summer workouts under strength and condition director John Grieco.
“He put us through it,” Pointer said. “I thought, if I can do that I can get through these last few plays. And I wanted them to keep throwing to my side. We were playing up, and they kept throwing short stuff. I was hoping I could jump one.”
He stuck by UNLV, he said, after UNLV stuck by him. As a junior at Mariner High, Pointer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Most college recruiters stopped calling.
Rebels coach Mike Sanford didn’t.
Pointer’s other option was Liberty, the Christian Evangelical university in Lynchburg, Va., founded in 1971 by the late Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. Were the Flames a close second?
“I wouldn’t say so, no,” Pointer said. “That’s kind of how it rolls.”