UNLV FOOTBALL:

Notebook: Clausen starts for banged-up Clayton

Sophomore enjoys solid statistical afternoon, but finds no room for celebration

UNLV vs UNR

UNR ran for a school record 559 yards on Saturday and beat UNLV 63 to 28. The Wolfpack earned their fifth straight victory over the Rebels in the Battle for the Freemont Cannon.

UNLV vs. UNR

UNR's Brandon Wimberly leaps over UNLV's Travis Dixon during the first half in Reno at Mackay Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

UNR POSTGAME: Where to start ...

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Ryan Greene and Alex Adeyanju clean up the last bits of UNLV's devastating 63-28 loss at UNR and spin it forward, as life gets no easier for the 2-3 Rebels in the coming weeks.

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Next game

  • Opponent: BYU
  • Date: Oct. 10, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
  • TV: The Mtn. (Cox ch. 334)
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM

RENO — On Tuesday, UNLV sophomore quarterback Mike Clausen was told to prepare to potentially start Saturday's game against UNR, then found out he would for sure a day later.

And following a 63-28 smashing at the hands of UNR, the sophomore lefty doesn't know for sure whether that will be the case again next week when 2-3 UNLV welcomes nationally-ranked BYU to Sam Boyd Stadium.

"It's kinda hard to tell whether or not you played good, because the scoreboard tells a whole different story," Clausen said.

At the end of the day, he was 26-of-50 for 276 yards and a second quarter touchdown toss to Jerriman Robinson.

Junior quarterback and resident starter Omar Clayton warmed up in the normal fashion, was in full uniform and left the visiting locker room for the team bus with ice wrapped around the right shoulder that was apparently still hurting from an injury suffered last Saturday at Wyoming.

"I would say that Omar was pretty beat up, and he doesn't have anything long-term, but we made a decision. We felt like he'd be injured more if we played him today, and we needed to get him back healthy," UNLV coach Mike Sanford said. "That's why we played Mike Clausen."

Off the skids ... sort of

UNLV entered Saturday's game as one of three teams in the FBS ranks without a fumble recovery this season.

The Rebels scooped the ball up four of the five times in which the Wolf Pack put it on the turf. Three of them came in the second quarter, opening the door for UNLV to tie the game at the half, 21-21.

Junior safety Travis Dixon had two forced fumbles, while fellow safety Chris Jones had both a fumble forced and recovered. Junior Ronnie Paulo and sophomore Beau Orth also each recorded a fumble recovery.

Local runs wild

Here's an unexpected standout for you.

Desert Pines grad and UNR redshirt freshman running back Mike Ball entered Saturday's game with one career carry for zero yards.

It also might have been the last time he ever catches an opponent by surprise.

Ball finished the day with 184 yards on 15 carries with an almost unheard of five touchdown runs. His afternoon was capped by a blazing 89-yard score in the fourth quarter when he needed just five yards to eclipse 100 for the day.

He was one of three standout ball carriers for the Wolf Pack. Junior Quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran for 173 yards, while senior starter Luke Lippincott complemented Ball with 170 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Lippincott also had a touchdown throw in the fourth quarter on a trick play and racked up 77 yards on four receptions.

Other injury notes

Senior receiver Rodelin Anthony, who missed the Wyoming game while recovering from a concussion suffered against Hawaii a week earlier, made the trip with the team to UNR, but did not play.

In his place, Michael Johnson was the team's second-leading receiver with five grabs for 56 yards, while Jerriman Robinson had two catches for 57 yards and a score.

On the defensive side, junior linebacker Starr Fuimaono suffered an ankle injury early and spent the rest of the afternoon in sidelines.

The severity of the injury the team's leader in tackles is unknown.

Other notable performances

Sophomore receiver Phillip Payne notched his first career 100-yard game, catching 10 passes for 112 yards.

Meanwhile, it was an odd day for junior running back Channing Trotter, who came into the contest with 295 rushing yards and four TDs through four games.

He went mostly unused, with three carries for two yards, including no totes after halftime. But in the process, he recorded two short touchdown runs. He also had four catches for 15 yards.

What's on tap

The road gets no easier for UNLV, which welcomes 4-1 BYU to Sam Boyd Stadium to continue a rough stretch in the schedule, which includes Utah coming to Las Vegas a week later.

Of course, by now some have forgotten about the Cougars' 14-13 upset to open the season against then-No. 3 Oklahoma. That's because two games later, BYU was throttled in its home opener, 54-28, by Florida State.

But Bronco Mendenhall's club has rebounded, most recently trumping Utah State at home on Friday night, 35-17.

Senior quarterback Max Hall was 16-of-23 for 216 yards and three touchdown passes in the effort, giving him 11 scoring tosses on the season, while completing 68 percent of his passes.

Elsewhere in the MWC

The best weekend was arguably had by TCU, who not only remained unbeaten with a 39-14 victory over SMU down in Fort Worth, but also got a leg up in the race to be this year's BCS buster, thanks to Houston's loss at UTEP.

San Diego State won its second game under Brady Hoke, 34-17 over New Mexico State, thanks to a 17-point outburst in the fourth quarter. The only other victorious squad in the league on Saturday was Wyoming, which parlayed its victory over UNLV a week ago into a road victory under first-year coach Dave Christensen, 30-28, at Florida Atlantic.

New Mexico remained winless, getting slammed at Texas Tech, 48-28, while Colorado State (31-29 at Idaho) and Air Force (16-13 at Navy) also suffered setbacks.

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