Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 | 3 p.m.
- Take Five: Getting to know Wyoming
- The anatomy of a Rebels road losing streak
- UNLV players not fazed by road MWC losing streak
- Omar Clayton becoming a consistent late-game producer
- Mondays with Mike: UNLV looking to change recent road trend in Laramie
- Comin’ up clutch: UNLV prevails late to edge Hawaii, 34-33
- Box score: UNLV 34, Hawaii 33
- 2009 UNLV football stats
Final, Wyoming wins 30-27
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Sure, Wyoming freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels looked phenomenal in the second half, but UNLV had no one to blame but themselves after a series of second half miscues led to a 30-27 Cowboys victory on Saturday afternoon.
It runs UNLV's road losing streak in Mountain West Conference games to 20 games.
Carta-Samuels was 24-of-37 for 234 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, while UNLV's Omar Clayton threw two costly interceptions in the second half. One of those was taken away by Tashaun Gipson at the goal line, while another led to the eventual game-winning field goal by Wyoming's Ian Watts.
The Rebels made it down to the Cowboys' 28-yard line on their final drive, but a delay of game penalty on fourth-and-three forced Kyle Watson's game-tying field goal attempt to come from 50 yards out. The kick never happened, as Brendon Lamers couldn't get the hold down, and Wyoming ran the clock out on its second victory under first-year coach Dave Christensen.
UNLV drops to 2-2, with an emotional road game coming up at UNR next Saturday afternoon.
Clayton on the day was 26-of-43 for 260 yards and a touchdown to go with those two picks, while Ryan Wolfe led all receivers with eight catches for 96 yards and his first touchdown of the 2009 season.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, video, photos, stats and the Rebel Room: Postgame Podcast, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
4:21, fourth quarter, Wyoming leads 30-27
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Omar Clayton was picked off for the second time today by Tashaun Gipson on a slant pass to Phillip Payne, and Wyoming took its first lead of the second half a few minutes later with a 29-yard Ian Watts field goal, 30-27.
It could have been worse, but Jason Beauchamp came up with UNLV's first sack of the day as Wyoming faced third-and-goal from its own three-yard line.
That came a play after Quinton Pointer broke up a pass into the flat by Austyn Carta-Samuels.
UNLV now has just over four minutes to go 74 yards.
8:16, fourth quarter, game tied 27-27
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Austyn Carta-Samuels continues to give Wyoming fans hope for the future, as his third touchdown pass of the day — this one to Travis Burkhalter from 16 yards out — tied the game yet again, 27-27.
The true freshman looks more and more like a gamer as the game goes on. On a second down play earlier in the drive, he juked UNLV's Jason Beauchamp to buy a few extra seconds to fire a pass downfield for a first down. A few snaps later, a big run up the gut after evading pressure put Wyoming on UNLV's half of the field.
He's now 20-of-32 for 202 yards and three TD passes.
UNLV right now could really use a drive reminiscent of the one that ate up a huge chunk of clock right out of the halftime locker room last week against Hawaii. Obviously, this is not an offense you want to give the ball back to with much time left on the clock.
11:28, fourth quarter, UNLV leads 27-20
LARAMIE, Wyo. — It took 31 catches to get there, but Ryan Wolfe's first touchdown of the 2009 season couldn't have come at a better time for the Rebels, as it put them back on top of Wyoming early in the fourth quarter, 27-20.
Facing a second-and-10 from the UW 18-yard line, Omar Clayton — who has now thrown a TD pass in 13 consecutive games — hit Wolfe in space over the middle. Showing good patience, Wolfe worked behind his blockers and slipped across the goal line for the 14th touchdown of his decorated UNLV career.
He now has eight catches for 96 yards on the day, while Clayton has picked things up after an early interception in the second half and is now 22-of-35 for a 232 yards.
Channing Trotter also came up with a couple of big runs on the drive, and now has 74 yards on 16 carries.
1:29, third quarter, game tied 20-20
LARAMIE, Wyo. — As expected, Austyn Carta-Samuels has continued to look more and more comfortable after busting the Cowboys' offensive TD drought, and now he's straight-up going blow-for-blow with UNLV.
The true freshman QB took advantage of a 15-yard pass interference call on UNLV's Warren Zeigler, and two plays later found leading receiver David Leonard streaking down the right sideline for a 34-yard score. Leonard now has five catches for 81 yards.
UNLV will now start at its own 20 after Deante' Purvis took the ensuing kickoff out from deep in the end zone.
Carta-Samuels is 16-of-27 for 169 yards on the day, including the first two TD passes of his young Cowboy career.
3:49, third quarter, UNLV leads 20-13
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Ryan Wolfe came within about two feet of his first touchdown of the 2009 season, but the Rebels' all-time leading receiver gladly watched Mike Clausen clean up the leftovers, as the backup QB's one-yard plunge put UNLV on top of Wyoming, 20-13, late in the third quarter.
The Rebels got some redemption after their previous drive was stymied by an interception at the goal line.
Wolfe caught two huge passes to help set up the score, including a pass from Clayton to take the ball down to the one-yard line. On the day, Wolfe has seven catches for 78 yards, giving him a team-high 30 grabs on the season.
Wyoming, however, is moving right back down the field, and was just now aided by a pass interference call against Warren Zeigler, who has two crucial 15-yard penalties on the afternoon.
8:29, third quarter, game tied 13-13
LARAMIE, Wyo. — An 18-yard pass from Omar Clayton to Michael Johnson on third-and-long got the Rebels first second half possession kick-started, but it ended with a thud, as Clayton was later picked off at the goal line.
A Channing Trotter 27-yard run put UNLV deep in Wyoming territory, and a pass interference call on UW's Tashaun Gipson set the Rebels up with a first-and-10 at the 16. But Gipson got his revenge three snaps later, jumping a pass to Phillip Payne and picking it off right at the goal line.
Wyoming, however, couldn't capitalize, and punted the ball back to UNLV three plays later, and the Rebels now take over at their own 31. UNLV has now scored one touchdown on four red zone opportunities.
Halftime, game tied 13-13
LARAMIE, Wyo. — UNLV's best hope for the second half today at Wyoming would be a repeat performance of last week from Omar Clayton, who played maybe his best half of football as a Rebel after the intermission in a 34-33 victory over Hawaii.
So far today, he hasn't quite looked like himself.
The Rebels have shuffled personnel in and out quite a bit, and the offense hasn't had a chance to find much of a rhythm. They also had two potential touchdown-scoring opportunities turn into chip-shot field goals by Kyle Watson. That left the door open for Wyoming, who scored late and got us to where we are in Laramie, with a 13-13 tie at the break.
Here are some numbers to digest ...
— Clayton is 10-of-21 for 103 yards. It's not that bad when you consider that he started the game 1-of-6.
— Wyoming true freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels hasn't looked half bad, going 12-of-22 for 105 yards and a late touchdown pass. He's shown nice poise and creativity, which was best displayed on his 19-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stewart.
— UNLV's run defense looks good yet again, having allowed just 46 yards on 16 carries.
— All six scores in this game have come from within the red zone. That said, only two of those six are touchdowns. This one could be pretty lopsided in either direction right now, which I'm sure is driving both coaching staffs nuts at the moment.
— Ryan Wolfe leads all receivers with four catches for 45 yards, but he's been shuffled in and out quite a bit. The Rebels often times have gone with Tate Knutson and Mark Barefield as their receivers on early downs. Those two have combined for two catches this year. On most of those snaps, the Rebels have run the ball. That said, the Wyoming defense is having pretty good success on those downs.
— Phillip Payne didn't play early, and looks pretty sharp despite battling the flu all week. He has two grabs for 30 yards.
— Wyoming's Gabe Knapton leads all tacklers with 11 stops. Ronnie Paulo has five for the Rebels to go with his pass break-up.
Wyoming will take the ball to start the second half. UNLV's defense can't afford to give up a touchdown, as playing from behind won't be easy today. This place is near-capacity, which is pretty insane for a 1-2 team that's looked pretty punchless the past two weeks. Credit the Cowboy faithful for being, well, faithful.
2:48, second quarter, game tied 13-13
LARAMIE, Wyo. — After failing to score TDs in the red zone on their previous two possessions, the Rebels let the Cowboys show them how it's done, as Austyn Carta-Samuels hit Brandon Stewart for a 19-yard score, tying the game at 13-13.
It was the first career TD pass for Wyoming's freshman QB, and ended the Cowboys' 10-quarter drought without an offensive TD.
The score was a product of a Carta-Samuels scramble after he evaded a near-sack by Malo Taumua.
The drive breathed new life into a near-capacity crowd at War Memorial Stadium, and may have awaken a sleeping beast in terms of the Wyoming offense. UNLV's had multiple opportunities to separate itself throughout the second quarter, and now could use a score to re-assert itself here going into halftime. A nice 8-yard run by Omar Clayton, then a first down pass to Ryan Wolfe started the ensuing drive off the right way.
5:45, second quarter, UNLV leads 13-6
LARAMIE, Wyo. — Apologies for the drought between updates. Had some technical difficulties.
Long story short, UNLV and Wyoming traded field goals, with the Rebels scoring the latter of those two three-pointers, going up 10-6 on Wyoming.
Then, the Cowboys took a very interesting risk.
Facing a fourth-and-long from their own 26-yard line, they attempted a fake punt pass, but when UNLV forced a premature throw thanks to heavy pressure, the ball fell incomplete, giving the Rebels a short field to work with.
A seven-yard gainer from Omar Clayton to Jerriman Robinson was coupled with a facemasking call on Wyoming, and UNLV wound up with its second chip-short from Kyle Watson in the span of just a few minutes.
However, UNLV's failure to get into the end zone has left Wyoming still within one score. And on the first play of the ensuing drive, Austyn Carta-Samuels hit David Leonard for a 30-yard gain to midfield. UNLV's defense is far from off the hook at this point.
3:13, first quarter, UNLV leads 7-3
LARAMIE, Wyo. — With Wyoming's offense struggling to capitalize after grabbing early momentum off of a UNLV turnover, the Rebels finally just grabbed what was their for the taking.
After starting 1-for-6 on UNLV's first three possessions, Omar Clayton completed a pair of passes in a 7-play, 76-yard drive which resulted in the game's first touchdown.
The passes — the bigger of which was an 18-yard strike to Jerriman Robinson on third-and-five — set up a pair of huge runs by sophomore C.J. Cox and junior Channing Trotter.
On third-and-three from the Wyoming 45-yard line, Cox ripped off 27 yards through a huge hole on the left side of the line, and a play later, Trotter exposed that same hole, rolling in for an 18-yard score.
The UNLV offensive line has looked great since the major flaw on the opening drive.
Wyoming brought the ensuing kick back to its own 38-yard line, and picked up 14 yards on a trick play a snap later, so look for the shootout to potentially ensue at any moment.
12:56, first quarter, Wyoming leads 3-0
LARAMIE, Wyo. — For the first time in awhile, UNLV coach Mike Sanford decided to take the ball right off the bat after winning a coin toss.
Moments later, it was in Wyoming's possession.
On a third-and-six play from UNLV's 34-yard line, the snap went over Omar Clayton's head and was recovered back at the seven-yard line by Wyoming's John Fletcher.
But then, it became pretty apparent why the Cowboys have gone nine quarters without an offensive TD.
Freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels threw three incomplete passes, including a near-interception to UNLV's Terrence Lee on second-and-goal.
Add in a five-yard penalty on the Pokes, and Wyoming took a 3-0 lead with a 29-yard field goal, capping a four-play drive that covered -5 yards.
UNLV is back with the ball at its own 33, and sophomore receiver Phillip Payne has yet to see the field for the Rebels. He's in uniform, and surely he'll play at some point.
LARAMIE, Wyo. — A lovely early morning drive up north from Denver, and here we are at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, Wyo., where the weather is flat-out beautiful.
Right now, temperatures are in the low 70s, not a cloud in the sky and a slight breeze. It's amazing that living in Las Vegas, you forget what a real 'fall' afternoon feels like.
But the Rebels hardly have any room to feel comfortable today in Laramie.
On paper, there's little reason to think that UNLV leaves its first conference game of the year without a 3-1 record. But as the previous 19 road league contests indicate, nothing is a given.
We've documented all week Wyoming's struggles offensively so far this season, having gone nine quarters without an offensive touchdown. But don't expect that to last through this one, as UNLV's defense has shown some pores here early in the season and Wyoming may have found some stability now, with true freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels taking over at QB.
Plus, having come from Big 12 country, I've seen what Dave Christensen's offense can do, as his days at Missouri were quite impressive. I know he doesn't have all the pieces in place here in Laramie, but the Cowboys may look pretty decent today, I have a feeling. After all, they just played back-to-back Big 12 foes in Colorado and Texas. You've got to imagine that forced a young team to grow up a bit.
How's this for an early sign of disrespect, however? And, I should say, I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but I'd have to assume so.
When Wyoming's players left the field a little while ago to put on pads, leaving UNLV alone for warmups, the music played over the P.A. system included Shakira, Kelly Clarkson and Miley Cyrus (who I just found out is the same person as Hannah Montana? Shows what I know ...). Then, when the Cowboys came back out? AC/DC.
As for the Rebels on the field, sophomore quarterback Mike Clausen (with a freshly shaved head) and sophomore receiver Phillip Payne are both here and going through warmups, apparently past bouts with the flu. Not on the trip is senior receiver Rodelin Anthony and senior safety Marquel Martin, both of whom are recovering from concussions.
Before getting out of here to prepare some notes for kickoff, how about some Mountain West predictions? After all, it's not that often that UNLV kicks off before everyone else in the league ...
— Air Force 42, San Diego State 35 — Ryan Lindley & Co. will put up points, but that defense is lookin' rough. Air Force will get everything it wants on the ground.
— UNLV 35, Wyoming 17 — I think the Rebels score two TDs early and hold the Cowboys at bay from there on out.
— TCU 24, Clemson 21 — The Horned Frogs soon after this become America's new non-BCS darling.
— BYU 33, Colorado State 20 — CSU returns back to reality, while BYU goes under the radar with success for the next couple of weeks after having its bubble burst.
— Utah 23, Louisville 22 — Maybe the best non-conference matchup of the day that no one is talking about.
— New Mexico 3, New Mexico State 2 — How this one is televised, I'll never understand.
Talk to you in a bit.