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UNLV falters after spirited first half effort, drops 48-21 decision to No. 5 Boise State

Heisman candidate Kellen Moore throws for 224 yards and five touchdowns

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Sam Morris

UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring is sacked by Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford during their Mountain West Conference game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Updated Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 | 10:51 p.m.

UNLV vs. Boise State

UNLV wide receivers Michael Johnson, right, and Phillip Payne celebrate Johnson's touchdown against Boise State during their Mountain West Conference game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »

Final, Boise State wins 48-21

UNLV will always have that first half.

The Rebels kept it interesting for a little more than 30 minutes of game time, but ultimately, the fifth-ranked team in the nation, predictably, was too much to hold down for an entire 60. Boise State came, saw and conquered UNLV on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium, 48-21.

UNLV registered only the third sack this season of Boise State star senior quarterback Kellen Moore, but couldn't hand him his third career loss as a starter. Instead, Moore erupted quietly, completing 18 of 31 pass attempts for 224 yards and five touchdowns.

But in the second half, no one might have been more important for the Broncos than running back D.J. Harper. Fellow senior Doug Martin left with an injury after only six carries, but Harper stepped in and went for 109 yards off of 13 carries, including a dagger of a 36-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Boise State finished with 185 yards on the ground after only totaling 19 in the first half.

On the UNLV side, Caleb Herring with an undisclosed injury that looked like a possible concussion in the second half, but had a memorable first half showing. He finished the night 12-of-17 for 114 yards and a TD, and also picked up 40 yards on the ground. Unfortunately, though, UNLV's run game couldn't sustain its momentum from recent weeks, and in the second half, the Rebels' young offensive line slowly got worn down by Boise State's fierce, veteran front. Surging freshman back Dionza Bradford had a big early score, but on the night had only 46 yards off of 16 totes. Bradley Randle, in a backup role with sophomore Tim Cornett suspended, had 91 yards off of nine carries, including a 55-yarder in the final minute. Also late in the game, senior receiver Phillip Payne caught his program-record 26th career touchdown pass off of a 13-yard toss from Sean Reilly. Payne had seven catches for 60 yards.

The Rebels, however, have that strong first half showing to hang their hats on as they now prepare for their most winnable game remaining on the schedule next Saturday at New Mexico. A 35-7 loss earlier in the day at home to San Diego State dropped the Lobos to 0-9 on the season and 0-4 in the Mountain West.

End of Third Quarter, Boise State leads 28-14

It appears that the levee has finally broken, and as much as Bobby Hauck might not like it, a moral victory will be the only victory his team takes away from tonight's game against No. 5 Boise State.

The Rebels played a great first half, but talent is simply winning out here in the second half, as Boise State leads 28-14 and is on its way to another score, with the ball deep in UNLV territory as the third quarter comes to a close.

The Broncos' lone score in the third quarter came on a third down play near midfield, when Kellen Moore stood strong against a UNLV blitz and threw a beauty down the seam to Tyler Shoemaker, who took it 51 yards for a score untouched.

The biggest difference here in the second half for Boise State is that the Broncos have found a running game with senior Doug Martin out. D.J. Harper has 58 yards off of 11 carries, and UNLV's thin defensive front, which played outstanding football int he first half, is starting to get pushed around some.

On the UNLV side, sophomore quarterback Caleb Herring is 12-of-17 for 114 yards, but provided a scare in the third quarter when he went down with an apparent right knee injury on a third down scramble. He walked off of the field under his own strength, but he might not play all the way to the end of this one if the score gets out of hand.

Halftime, Boise State leads 21-14

Stanford and Oklahoma State won. LSU beat Alabama. If Boise State wants the Crimson Tide to drop below it in the upcoming Top 25 polls, it might need some major style points here in the second half.

The Broncos took a 21-14 lead into the halftime locker room over host UNLV moments ago, but it's hard to argue that Boise State out-played the Rebels.

UNLV is showing great intensity on defense and hitting hard. But there's only so much you can do against Heisman hopeful Kellen Moore.

Moore in the first half was 13-of-19 for 142 yards and three touchdown tosses. What's keeping Boise State unbalanced, though, is the lack of a running game. Star senior Doug Martin left the game injured, and so far, Boise State has just 19 rushing yards on 13 attempts.

Meanwhile, UNLV has out-gained Boise State in terms of total offense, 198-161, and has 94 yards rushing off of 19 carries.

Caleb Herring is having arguably his best game as a Rebel behind center, too, as he's 11-of-13 for 104 yards and a TD. He's also rushed for 36 yards.

UNLV got the ball near midfield after Boise State's late touchdown before the half, and with a timeout still in his pocket, Bobby Hauck decided to eat up the final 25 seconds on the clock instead of taking a shot or two downfield. He must be confident that when UNLV takes the ball out of the half, its confidence from the first half will carry over.

We shall see.

Even if UNLV winds up getting brushed aside by Boise State, the Rebels made a major statement in the first half, and that could end up going a long way for the fledgling program.

End of First Quarter, game tied 7-7

Well, it's a much different game through one quarter at Sam Boyd Stadium than many expected.

Two of No. 5 Boise State's three offensive possessions have resulted in three-and-outs, UNLV orchestrated one outstanding scoring jaunt and the Rebels are tied with a national title contender after 15 minutes, 7-7.

Kellen Moore started the scoring off with a two-yard TD toss to Gabe Linehan six minutes into the game, but UNLV answered with a gorgeous 8-play, 78-yard drive that was capped off by a Dionza Bradford 13-yard touchdown run right in front of the UNLV student section. The students turned out in full force tonight, and the score sent the half of the stadium not drenched in blue into a frenzy.

UNLV's defense has looked beyond respectable so far, as Moore is 5-of-8 for 48 yards, but star senior running back Doug Martin has been held to just eight yards on five carries.

Meanwhile, the confidence is oozing from UNLV sophomore quarterback Caleb Herring, who is 5-of-7 for 42 yards, but has also run the ball three times for 37 yards. His pocket presence is solid tonight,a nd he had two big runs on the scoring drive that came after he sensed pressure in the pocket and escaped.

Will this hold up for UNLV? Only time will tell. The odds are not in their favor, and one bad sign, oddly enough, comes from junior punter Chase Lansford, who has been one of UNLV's bright spots this season. He's shanked two punts tonight, and is only averaging 30.5 yards per kick. That's almost 15 yards below his average.

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