UNLV defense keeps Sacramento State out of end zone

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Sam Morris

UNLV linebacker Starr Fuimaono takes down Sacramento State running back Terrance Dailey during the first half of the Rebels’ 38-3 victory at Sam Boyd Stadium on Sept 5.

Sacramento State vs UNLV

UNLV wins its season-opener 38-3 over Sacramento State Saturday night, thanks to Channing Trotter's three touchdowns.

UNLV vs. Sacramento State

UNLV cheerleaders and players sing the UNLV fight song after defeating Sacramento State 38-3 Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »

UNLV fan photos

Rebels fans prepare for kickoff against Sacramento State. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

Sacramento State Postgame

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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech break down UNLV's season-opening 38-3 victory over Sacramento State, paced by a solid defensive showing and three Channing Trotter rushing touchdowns. Plus, the guys take a look at what the win against the Hornets does for the Rebels as they prepare to welcome Oregon State to Sam Boyd Stadium next Saturday night.

Next game

  • Opponent: Oregon State
  • Date: Sept. 12, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
  • TV: CBS College Sports
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM

Sacramento State hadn’t been this close to the end zone all night. The Hornets were on the UNLV 20-yard line and looking to earn some honor against the program from the elite division.

But the Rebels were relentless on defense and stifled the squad from the former Division I-AA.

The series in the first half of the fourth quarter highlighted UNLV’s 38-3 victory over Sacramento State before 22,195 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Don’t let anything pop out, the Rebels told each other in those defensive huddles. Don’t allow anything big.

“We were just encouraging each other,” said junior linebacker Starr Fuimaono.

“We were saying, ‘Let’s go!’ Let’s keep them out of the end zone! They can’t compete with us!’ ” said junior defensive lineman Malo Taumua. “That kept us motivated.”

Fuimaono and Taumua provided some of the key plugs that kept a UNLV opponent from scoring a touchdown for the first time since the Rebels zapped Utah, 27-0, at Sam Boyd on Sept. 22, 2007.

“They weren’t really driving on us,” Fuimaono said. “They had that one big play. But everyone one of us was behind each other.”

Channing Trotter had just scored his third short touchdown run to give UNLV a 24-3 edge, and Terrance Dailey got Sac State out of a hole with consecutive 8-yard runs.

Two plays later, quarterback Jason Smith hit Brandyn Reed with a 32-yard pass connection, giving the Hornets the ball on UNLV’s 31.

The Rebels wouldn’t get the shutout, Fuimaono said, but they could at least keep the Hornets scoreless in the second half.

A Smith pass lost a yard, and Fuimaono stopped Dailey after he ran for 4 yards. Fuimaono made the next tackle, too, but Evander Wilkins had gotten the first down with an 8-yard reception.

Then the Rebels made their defensive stand of the game.

Smith missed Reed on a pass, and Fuimaono nailed Dailey at the line-of-scrimmage.

Fuimaono, playing his first game since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee at Utah in week two last season, and Ronnie Paulo led UNLV with 11 tackles.

And Fuimaono had the only sack of the night for the Rebels.

“That guy was a missile tonight,” Taumua said. “We were handling the offensive line and saw him shooting through the gaps and making tackles, so I was really impressed with the way Starr played.

“I expect nothing less from him.”

On third-and-10 at the 20, Smith missed Wilkins on a pass.

On fourth-and-10, with a bit more than five minutes remaining, Taumua hauled in a tipped pass a few feet inside the end zone for the first interception of his life.

Cornerback Quinton Pointer probably would have cradled it if Taumua wouldn’t have snatched the ball, but Taumua, who was chasing a sprinting tight end, wasn’t about to let it go.

“That was a real big statement for us,” Taumua said. “I mean, you can never take anyone lightly from the former I-AA. Those schools from smaller conferences have beaten bigger schools.

“Anything can happen any day, but we expect to keep them to a low score.”

UNLV outgained Sac State, 466 yards to 228. It was a solid defensive primer for Oregon State, which defeated Portland State, 34-7, on Saturday and visits Sam Boyd next weekend.

“We’re playing a high-powered offense next week in Oregon State and we wanted to make a statement that our defense is a good defense,” Fuimaono said, “that we can defend anything (the Beavers) come at us with.”

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  1. The hornets pretty much gave up on their passing game after the first series. Although the defense looked pretty good and had a clean sheet, I wish that we would have been able to see a little more of the pass defense. I feel like we were very stout in the middle but Daily exploided the edges a few times, we had better tighten that up for the beavers.
    All and all, I was very happy with the result, especially with the efficiency of the offense and special teams.
    GO REBELS and pound some beavers next week!