Published Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010 | 6 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010 | 10:05 p.m.
Final, UNLV wins 42-16
For as bad as things have been at times this season for the UNLV football team, they were able to put it in the past for one night at Sam Boyd Stadium, running Wyoming ragged in a 42-16 victory.
It is the Rebels' second victory under first-year coach Bobby Hauck.
UNLV gave up a 72-yard score to Alvester Alexander on the first play from scrimmage, but answered fast and really never looked back.
The two big offensive stars of the night for UNLV were senior quarterback Omar Clayton and true freshman running back Tim Cornett.
Clayton, who has been lifted in five different games this season by Hauck, went 13-of-18 for 163 yards and three TD passes in his best game yet under Hauck. He also added 44 yards on 11 carries.
As for Cornett, he scored four total TDs, with three coming on the last on a 12-yard pass play in the closing minutes to ice the game for good. He had 71 yards on 21 carries.
The Wyoming offense looked promising on the heels of that first score, but the rest of the night only totaled 59 rushing yards on 29 carries.
The Rebels (2-8 overall, 2-4 Mountain West) will have a quick turnaround and host Air Force (7-4, 4-3) on Thursday night at 7 p.m. back at Sam Boyd. The Cowboys (2-9, 0-7) host Colorado State in their regular season finale next weekend, hoping to avoid being the only winless team this season in league play.
For full postgame coverage, including stories, analysis, stats and photos, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.
10:04, Fourth Quarter, UNLV leads 35-16
Wyoming, trailing by 12 early in the fourth quarter, put together a gutsy drive deep into UNLV territory to try and keep it a game at Sam Boyd Stadium. It even included an 11-yard run by quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels on fourth-and-10.
The Cowboys couldn't capitalize, though, and the Rebels promptly slammed the window of opportunity shut.
Omar Clayton threw his second touchdown pass of the night, and maybe his prettiest of the season, finding freshman speedster Marcus Sullivan down the seam for a 41-yard score.
On the night, Clayton is now 13-of-18 for 162 yards, two scores and no turnovers of any kind.
7:23, Third Quarter, UNLV leads 28-16
Freshman Marcus Sullivan has gradually remained maybe the Rebels' most consistent weapon in a non-descript season, mostly succeeding as a kick returner.
He struck gold in that department again to start the second half. He ran it back to the Wyoming 30-yard line, but the ball was moved back to near midfield thanks to an illegal block.
It didn't matter, as the Rebels' offense is in rare form tonight. A quick drive was capped by Tim Cornett's third TD run of the night, doing so from a yard out through a gap so wide that he wasn't touched.
Wyoming responded with a drive of its own that was aided by a pair of penalties by the UNLV secondary. Still, the Rebels held the Cowboys to a 46-yard Ian Watts field goal, making it a 28-16 game.
UNLV's first win of the season came via a 45-10 blowout against New Mexico that was never in question.
Now, everyone will get to see how Bobby Hauck's team can handle a slimmer lead as the game winds down. Should get interesting.
Halftime, UNLV leads 21-13
Phillip Payne's time since returning from a 2-game suspension over controversial tweets has been rough. It only got rougher in the first half, as he picked up two 15-yard penalties before recording a catch.
But when he did make a grab, it erased the impact of the two mistakes, and the 21-yard strike from Omar Clayton gave UNLV a 21-13 edge on Wyoming at the half.
It came right out of a timeout with 37 seconds left before the break and capped a 13-play, 85-yard drive.
For Payne, who had 14 TD catches in 21 career games coming into his junior season, it was his first score since Sept. 18 at Idaho.
The Rebels will also get the ball to start the second half.
Here are some more numbers of note from the first half ...
— UNLV's defense gave up 72 rushing yards on the first play from scrimmage, but since then have given up 32 on 12 attempts. Nice recovery. Meanwhile, the Rebels have 113 yards on 23 carries as a team. Omar Clayton has 34 of them, while Deante' Purvis and Tim Cornett each have 27.
— Clayton, with his arm, was 8-of-12 for 74 yards and the TD in the first half.
— Wyoming's Austyn Carta-Samuels is 7-of-7, but for only 29 yards.
— UNLV is 2-for-2 on fourth down attempts, as each have come on touchdown drives.
— The Rebels are winning the time of possession battle, holding the ball for 17:50 out of 30 minutes. The game plan UNLV is executing today is exactly what Bobby Hauck likes, controlling the ball and the clock simultaneously and effectively.
— Since his 72-yard TD, Wyoming's Alvester Alexander has 15 yards on four carries.
10:28, Second Quarter, UNLV leads 14-13
The trickery only continues.
Wyoming, after muffing a punt return of its own, took advantage of a Michael Johnson gaffe. The UNLV returnman let one get away from him, setting the Cowboys up with golden field position early in the second quarter.
A play later, T.J. Smith was on the receiving end of a 32-yard toss from receiver David Leonard. Ian Watts botched the extra point attempt, however.
UNLV came back with a drive that looks a lot like what Bobby Hauck will want in the future, as the Rebels were ground-oriented while taking their first lead in weeks.
The drive was capped by Tim Cornett's second TD run of the game, this time from three yards out. The drive included a big Omar Clayton run and yet another fourth down conversion.
For a one-win team, UNLV is actually showing a good amount of swagger tonight. Hauck says week-in and week-out how his team still has plenty of fight. Many may not believe him, but it's showing tonight.
It's most noticeable in terms of the run defense, where since Wyoming's big play on the first snap from scrimmage, the Rebels haven't allowed very much.
12:03, First Quarter, game tied 7-7
Though the crowd at Sam Boyd Stadium is minimal, those who made it out have been entertained so far.
Wyoming took almost no time to score, as Alvester Alexander ripped off a 72-yard TD run on the first play from scrimmage up the left side.
However, the Cowboys got a bit greedy on the ensuing kickoff, failing to recover a surprising onside try.
UNLV took advantage and got aggressive. Facing a fourth-and-one situation, Bobby Hauck decided to give the ball to Tim Cornett up the middle, and the true freshman responded with a 10-yard gain.
On the next play, Hauck pulled out a trick of his own, calling a throw-back play from Michael Johnson to Omar Clayton that picked up 16 yards. Cornett pushed a pile not long after for a seven-yard score.
Both teams came in with bad defenses and bad offenses. So far, it appears the offenses will be the ones getting the confidence boosts.
Last season, UNLV coach Mike Sanford took his team to Laramie, Wyo., with a 3-1 record and the thought that the program may be finally turning a corner.
The Rebels stumbled their way to a 30-27 defeat, including an embarrassing situation while attempting to get off a field goal attempt to tie the game late. From there, UNLV never really recovered.
The truth is, even with a new coach, in terms of wins and losses they still haven't.
The Rebels went 2-5 the rest of the way in 2009, and enter tonight's re-match with the Cowboys at Sam Boyd Stadium at 1-8 on the season.
Wyoming, on the other hand, went 6-6 in the regular season in 2009 and won a thrilling New Mexico Bowl against Fresno State.
This year, though, the Pokes are in UNLV's boat, coming in at only 2-8.
The two teams have plenty in common, too.
Both are struggling on, well, both sides of the ball, ranking near the bottom of the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks in total offense and defense.
It's going to be ugly. The crowd is going to be sparse. The weather is going to be chilly.
That said, I'm assuming that many of you opted to watch this one at home instead of venturing out this way.
The key for the Rebels tonight will be slowing Wyoming quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels.
The Cowboys are 117th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense, but the sophomore quarterback has had some big games mixed in there.
Don't forget that last year, he made his first career against the Rebels, killed them with both his arms and legs and threw three TD passes.
Talk to you just after kick-off.