Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 | 2:10 p.m.
This time, UNLV clawed back after a tough start on the road, but in the end, it was the same old story for Bobby Hauck's club in a game away from Sam Boyd Stadium.
The Rebels battled back from an early 20-0 deficit Saturday afternoon at Wyoming, but in both teams' Mountain West Conference opener, UNLV couldn't complete the cycle, falling 41-14 at War Memorial Stadium.
UNLV is now 0-11 in road games in the Bobby Hauck era.
Things began to snowball in the wrong direction for UNLV not long after when, on his first pass attempt of the day, first-time starter Sean Reilly had spotted Phillip Payne on a six-yard hitch route. The ball slipped from Payne's grasp, turned into an interception going the other way, then an Alvester Alexander touchdown run a few plays later.
The Cowboys would lead 20-0 when UNLV got a break to go its way, with Wyoming's Chris McNeill muffing a punt return and setting the Rebels up in plus territory.
A pair of Tim Cornett touchdown runs made it a 20-14 game at the half, but the Rebels' offensive attack behind Reilly, which included mostly run plays and nothing too tricky in the pass game, lost its effectiveness.
Wyoming finally broke the levee with a McNeill 76-yard punt return for a score late in the third quarter, then a McNeill touchdown pass to Smith on a trick play four minutes later.
Reilly's first start for the Rebels since transferring in from Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., lasted roughly three quarters, as he completed 7 of 16 pass attempts for 79 yards and the lone pick. He didn't have too many chances to take shots downfield as the Rebels' staff was apparently easing him into the role some. Sophomore Caleb Herring came in late to complete 2 of 5 passes for 25 yards.
Going inside the numbers for UNLV …
• Freshman running back Dionza Bradford got his first career start on Saturday and went for 102 yards off of 22 carries. This came a week after he picked up 78 yards against Nevada-Reno on 18 totes.
• Still, though, UNLV picked up only 3.2 yards per rush on 48 attempts as a team, which certainly didn't help Reilly get comfortable on a consistent basis.
• Wyoming's Smith was 10-of-19 for 92 yards and two touchdown tosses. He also picked up 58 yards on the ground.
• The Cowboys ran for 230 yards on 45 attempts, averaging 5.1 yards an attempt.
• UNLV was just 3-of-15 on third downs and 1-of-3 on fourth downs.
• It was another tough day for Payne, who a week ago at UNR went without a catch for the first time in his career. After starting the day with the drop that turned into a pick, he only caught one pass for 32 yards.
• For what it's worth, junior punter Chase Lansford was once again strong for UNLV, averaging 52.8 yards on his nine kicks.
UNLV now heads into its second bye week of October and will begin preparations for what looks to be one of the few golden opportunities it has at a win the rest of the way. Colorado State, who fell to 3-3 with a 63-13 loss at the hands of Boise State on Saturday evening, comes to Sam Boyd on Oct. 29 for a 3 p.m. contest.
Will the Rebels stick with Sean Reilly at quarterback? Will some of the younger guys on the depth chart on both sides of the ball start moving up in time to get some experience in building toward 2012? Those are a couple of the questions that likely won't be answered for another week as Hauck and his staff will likely give their players some time to recharge before the season's second half.