Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 | 2:32 a.m.
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Ryan Greene, Rob Miech and Alex Adeyanju digest all there was to take in from UNLV's 59-21 loss to BYU on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.
- UNLV-BYU Box Score
- Instant analysis: Loss to BYU leaves Mike Sanford hanging by a thread
- Cougars toy with Rebels in thorough 59-21 beating
- Harvey Unga puts on show for BYU fans in ‘Provo West’
- Notebook: Team leaders think signs of belief are still present
- Live Game Blog: BYU rolls reeling Rebels, 59-21
- Opponent: Utah
- Date: Oct. 17, 7 p.m.
- Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
- TV: The Mtn. (Cox ch. 334)
- Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM
Max Hall clenched his fist, threw a punch into the air and spun around.
Hall, BYU’s senior quarterback, had no reason to hide his enthusiasm after his second touchdown pass of the night in BYU’s 59-21 victory against UNLV. Carving up the Rebels defense for 320 yards and two touchdowns on 21-for-31 passing was a blast.
“I made a lot of smart decisions tonight,” Hall said. “I didn’t force anything down field. I just took what they gave me. It was a great effort by my teammates and fun to play tonight.”
Although running back Harvey Unga led BYU in its rout of UNLV with three touchdowns and 149 yards on the ground, Hall made plenty of plays of his own. Not that this was anything new for the Cougars.
As a three-year starter at BYU, Hall has become one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He entered the game ranked 14th in the nation in passing efficiency and 15th in total yards.
Over the last two years, he’s been mentioned as a dark horse Heisman candidate. To the Cougars, he is everything.
“He’s the cornerstone to this team on offense and to the team itself,” Unga said. “He’s a great leader and, not only that, but a great person and a great man. I admire the guy.”
Hall might have compiled his best game of the year against the Rebels. He came nine yards short of tying his season-high 329 passing yards against Oklahoma.
And Hall did it all in three quarters. The Cougars pulled him out at the beginning of the fourth quarter with a comfortable 45-21 lead.
“When there was three minutes left in the third quarter, we had made the decision,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
The third quarter was when Hall was at his finest. UNLV cut the score to 24-14 with 10 minutes remaining when Michael Johnson caught a 75-yard touchdown pass.
The Rebels comeback attempt didn’t last long.
Less than two minutes later, Hall stood stoically in the pocket and connected with tight end Dennis Pitta for a 35-yard touchdown. Hall added his second touchdown pass right before the end of the quarter, with a 15-yard pass to running back JJ Di Luigi to make the score 45-14.
So much for any chance UNLV had of getting back in the game.
“We answered the scratch when we needed to tonight,” Hall said. “We came up with the drives when we needed them the most.”
Perhaps the most important statistic of the night for Hall was zero. That’s the number of interceptions he threw.
He said he felt comfortable when he dropped back to pass and it didn’t hurt that UNLV provided no semblance of pressure.
It was the first time this season that Hall did not throw at least one interception.
“I’m happy I didn’t. I have thrown more than I should this year,” Hall said. “But it’s something in the past, and I’m not dwelling on it.”
Not on this night. Hall had too much fun for that.