LIVE GAME BLOG — Final:

West Virginia gets money’s worth, routs UNLV, 49-10

Mountaineer starters take care of Rebels in first half, young UNLV prospects see plenty of action

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AP Photo/Michael Switzer

West Virginia’s Julian Miller tries to avoid the block by UNLV’s Sidney Hodge during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010 in Morgantown, W.Va.

Updated Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010 | 4:32 p.m.

UNLV vs. West Virginia Football

West Virginia's Julian Miller tries to avoid the block by UNLV's Sidney Hodge during an  NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010 in Morgantown, W.Va. Launch slideshow »

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Final, West Virginia wins, 49-10

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia's starters were able to take most of the second half off following a lopsided first 30 minutes, dispatching of UNLV on Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium, 49-10.

Sophomore quarterback Geno Smith was 12-of-16 for 220 yards and three touchdowns — all to junior Brad Starks — and the defense's speed flummoxed the Rebels right from go.

The Mountaineers (4-1) led 21-0 before the game was even 10 minutes old, as the young Rebels (1-5) struggled to find their footing.

For UNLV, 12 freshmen saw the field today, including five who earned their first career starts.

That group included running back Tim Cornett, who had 12 rushes for 56 yards, then three catches for 18 yards and a late touchdown. Freshman quarterback Caleb Herring played the entire second half, going 8-of-14 for 101 yards, a TD and a pick.

The Rebels now finally get a bit of a breather in the middle of a loaded 2010 schedule, facing Colorado State (1-5) next Saturday at 11 a.m. PDT in Fort Collins, Colo. That will be followed by the bye week.

For full postgame coverage, including stories, photos, stats and much more, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.

End of 3rd Quarter, West Virginia leads, 42-3

MORGANTOWN, W.V. — Just for good measure, West Virginia's starters added a touchdown to open the second half, and since then, the second unit has run the show.

Geno Smith hit Brad Starks in the end zone for the third time in the back, left corner to put the Mountaineers up 42-0. That came after roughly a third of the crowd of about 55,000 headed back to the parking lots for some more tailgating.

But UNLV is trying to salvage something out of the trip, other than the $750,000 paycheck.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Caleb Herring is seeing his second action of the season, and just before the end of the third quarter, he hit Tate Knutson on a short pass to the left, which the senior receiver stretched for a 51-yard gain.

Freshman kicker Nolan Kohorst capped the drive with a 39-yard field goal, giving the Rebels their first points of the night.

It was a strong day for West Virginia's first unit, as Smith finished by going 12-of-16 for 220 yards and three scores. All of them were to Starks, who had four catches for 100 yards.

In his first quarter of work, Herring was 3-of-5 for 64 yards and a pick, while Tim Cornett saw some more action out of the backfield, and now has 56 yards on nine carries.

Halftime, West Virginia leads 35-0

MORGANTOWN, W.V. — UNLV held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the first half, but that didn't even come close to telling the story as the Rebels and Mountaineers enter the intermission.

Thanks to four scoring plays of at least 28 yards, West Virginia is well on its way to its fourth win of the season with a 35-0 lead.

Just before the half, sophomore quarterback Geno Smith found Brad Starks for a second time in the end zone, as the junior receiver leapt over UNLV's Will Chandler to haul in the 48-yard score.

Earlier in the second quarter, West Virginia speedster Noel Devine also scored for a second time out of the backfield on a 48-yard shot up the left side. Any worries the Mountaineers had of the star senior running back being hampered by a bone bruise in his right foot should be gone, as he has 84 yards on only three carries.

UNLV found some continuity on offense with a core of youngsters going, even stringing together a couple of respectable drives, but have no points to show for it. The valuable for the freshmen is invaluable, as it's now clear that Bobby Hauck partially has preparation for the 2011 season in mind, but right now, it looks ugly.

Here are the numbers of note from the first half ...

— West Virginia ran only 24 plays and gained 319 yards, while UNLV has 146 yards on 41 snaps.

— Junior tight end Austin Harrington is fulfilling the promise he showed with a strong fall camp, with three catches for 34 yards so far today. Meanwhile, junior Michael Johnson, who is tied for the team lead with suspended Phillip Payne in receptions, has yet to catch a ball.

— UNLV's Omar Clayton is 12-of-18 for 79 yards and his second interception of the year. WVU's Geno Smith is 9-for-13 for 195 yards and two TDs.

— For UNLV, five players made their first career starts today — linebacker Tani Maka, fullback Beau Brence, running back Tim Cornett, receiver Aaron Reed and receiver Kurt Davis. So far, Maka looks the best out of all of them with three tackles.

— Converted cornerback Deante' Purvis is seeing extended time at running back for the first time today for the Rebels, totaling 37 yards on 11 carries so far on some hard inside runs. UNLV is led in rushing so far by Cornett, who has 39 yards on four totes. That total was padded by a 45-yard gain.

End of 1st Quarter, West Virginia leads 21-0

MORGANTOWN, W.V. — After quickly shooting out to a 14-0 lead, West Virginia appeared to settle in and get a bit complacent on both sides of the ball.

A big momentum-changing play by the Mountaineer defense changed all of that.

Safety Keith Tandy pulled down a batted ball thrown by Omar Clayton, fumbled it, and Terence Garvin continued the run-back for WVU, who two plays later scored its third touchdown of the game, going up on UNLV, 21-0.

For Clayton, it was just his second INT of the season.

The Rebels defense was fooled on the scoring play on an end-around run by speedy receiver Jock Sanders, who scored from 15 yards out and was never even closed to being touched.

The UNLV offense has had a couple of nice plays to hang its hat on, at least.

Freshman running back Tim Cornett, who was one of five freshmen to make a first career start for the Rebels today, ripped off a 45-yard run one play after being dropped for a loss of six. Clayton has also connected twice with tight end Austin Harrington, who had just one catch in the first five games following a strong fall camp. He has two catches so far for 19 yards.

10:31, 1st Quarter, West Virginia leads 14-0

MORGANTOWN, W.V. — West Virginia may be cutting a big check for this game, but the Mountaineers are making sure they get their money's worth early.

It has taken the hosts just seven plays to score two touchdowns, and the rout may be on already, as they lead UNLV 14-0 less than five minutes in at Milan Puskar Stadium.

On the opening drive, sophomore quarterback Geno Smith needed just two pass plays to compile 79 yards, including a 38-yard strike to Brad Starks after safety Mike Clausen slipped early in the play.

Following a 3-and-out by the UNLV offense, the Mountaineers went 62 yards in four plays, capped by a 28-yard touchdown run by star senior running back Noel Devine on his first carry of the day. He went left on a sweep play, then cut all the way back to the other side of the field and shot through the porous Rebels' defense.

An interesting note for UNLV so far is the influx of freshmen in the starting lineup.

On defense, linebacker Tani Maka got his first start, while fellow freshmen Aaron Reed, Kurt Davis and Tim Cornett all started on offense. The Rebels only appear to have about 45-50 players suited up, which leads you to wonder if something is up on the sidelines. Either way, something seems off today.

Pregame

MORGANTOWN, W.V. — The fact that West Virginia hasn't played a game in two weeks is written all over Morgantown today, on a sunny, warm, clear afternoon.

The scene around Milan Puskar Stadium is electric, and the Rebels, in what is labeled a 'payday' game, hope to offer some resistance.

Doing so got tougher late in the week, when star junior receiver Phillip Payne was suspended and left off of the trip after making disparaging remarks towards the UNLV program on his Twitter feed.

That's what today's pregame blog will center around.

The Rebels (1-4) were already preparing to face the Mountaineers (3-1) as a four-touchdown underdog, but taking away UNLV's top offensive threat could be a major handicap.

With that being the case now, here are three things the Rebels can do to make up for Payne's absence.

1) Secret weapon?

On his teleconference this week, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart raved about UNLV freshman Marcus Sullivan ... as a kick returner.

Sullivan has worked his way up the depth chart at the receiver, but there isn't much film on him at his natural position so far this year, as he only has two catches for 26 yards.

With Payne out, Sullivan has a prime opportunity for a break-out game against an elite opponent. Plus, he has the speed to help even the playing field a bit for UNLV.

The kicker is that junior Michael Johnson, who is tied with Payne for the team lead with 23 receptions, won't start as a result of ball security issues last week. True freshman Kurt Davis or senior Tate Knutson could wind up going in his place,

2) More work for Cornett

The Rebels' struggles to establish a consistent run game figure to continue today against a Top-10 defense, but Bobby Hauck does have an ace up his sleeve in freshman Tim Cornett.

Aas is the case with getting Sullivan more involved, UNLV has to try to fight speed with speed, and out of the backfield, Cornett is the Rebels' best option.

He has 107 yards on 16 carries, good for a team-best 6.7 yards per carry. Signs are there, too, that he could see extended work today, as last week he had a career-high six totes.

3) Don't be charitable

Despite his on-and-off struggles so far this season, maybe the best thing senior quarterback Omar Clayton has done so far is throw only one interception, and that came last weekend against UNR.

West Virginia presents the most opportunistic defense UNLV has seen yet.

Not much more to it than that.

Talk to you just after kick-off, and as always, add the #unlvfb tag to your tweets to communicate with me during the game.

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  1. YIKES! One minute into the game, and we're down already. C'mon Rebs! Step it up!

  2. wow... Not sure we came ready to play.

  3. embarrassing...

  4. Ouch. Rough game. That was tough to watch. I'm glad both teams played their back-ups. I'm looking forward to a victory at Colorado St. next week! Go Rebs!

  5. That looked more like a pre-season exhibition game then an actual meaningful contest. Tons of non-starters getting significant time for both sides. Good to see some young guys get some experience. Time for conference to start!

  6. We do have 1 winning football team in Vegas. They're called the Las Vegas Locomotives. Ease your frustration and go support the Locos. We have a killer pro team with NFL caliber talent. But Vegas is showing itself to be the UFL's only bad pro football market. Let's fix that.

    Oh yeah, and go Rebels...

  7. Embarrassing, almost wish it wasn't televised. With all our freshman That game reminded me of a movie called "We are Marshall". Better luck next game fellas.