Published Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 | 11:50 a.m.
Updated Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012 | 4:03 p.m.
- Take 5: Getting ready for Saturday’s must-win game against New Mexico
- Mountain Best: League has a few tricks and treats left heading into November
- Rebels trying to ignore poor record and finish strong, starting with New Mexico
- Sherry expected to start, though UNLV’s offensive line still in flux
- UNLV quarterback improving but still not cleared to start on Saturday
- Mountain Best: Teams around the league doing their best to avoid a meltdown
- Sherry injured as Rebels drop forgettable 32-7 decision at Boise State
- All UNLV Football Coverage
UNLV 35, NEW MEXICO 7
There was some doubt. For most of the third quarter, in fact, the game looked like so many others that had slipped away from UNLV. One score at the end of the third righted the ship, though, and a career day from Bradley Randle pushed UNLV over the top in a 35-7 victory.
Randle's first career 100-yard rushing game also included three total touchdowns, two on the ground and another through the air. Tim Cornett went over 1,000 yards for the season in the first half and from there Randle took over and dominated the Lobos' defense.
UNLV moves to 2-8 overall and 2-3 in league play while New Mexico drops to 4-6 overall and 1-4 in the Mountain West. If the Rebels were going to do anything with their remaining four games of the season, this was the type of performance they needed.
Like I said, there were some questions in the third quarter as to whether UNLV could hold this. In the end it turned out just fine, and now the team can feel good about itself again. All three remaining games are just as winnable as this one was, so at least there's something positive for the Rebels and their fans to look forward to for now.
Check lasvegassun.com later today for a full report from today's game.
UNLV 28, NEW MEXICO 7
End of the third quarter
I had something written about how the third quarter couldn't end quickly enough for UNLV. Apparently I was wrong.
Sherry threw a short pass to Devante Davis, who made one guy miss and went 75 yards down the sideline for the second passing touchdown of the game. I had also written that UNLV basically needed just one more good drive to all but put this out of reach and that may have been it.
Barring a couple of big plays New Mexico just can't move the ball quickly enough to score at least three more times in a single quarter. It's not impossible, but UNLV just did itself a huge favor by adding that insurance score before the fourth.
UNLV 21, NEW MEXICO 7
8:18 remaining in the third quarter
OK, take a deep breath. I know you've seen this before and it doesn't turn out well for the Rebels. After a great first half UNLV got shut down on both sides of the ball early in the third quarter and allowed New Mexico to finally get on the board.
The big play in the drive was a quarterback keeper where all the defenders went for the pitch man and Cole Gautsche instead kept the ball and cut up field. The Rebles have been good against that option for most of the day so it's important they not lose focus just because of that one mistake.
And offensively, UNLV must keep running well. That's what got them to this position and they can't afford to let it disappear right now.
UNLV 21, NEW MEXICO 0
Here are the results of UNLV's five offensive drives in the first half: fumble, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, interception. When the Rebels hold on to the ball today they score. It's as simple as that.
UNLV should have added some more points right before halftime but Nick Sherry made an ill-advised throw into coverage and the Lobos' pick essentially ended the first half. Sherry has been really good finding Devante Davis for solid gains but things have been a bit more difficult elsewhere. His longest gain could have easily been intercepted and he's made several throws that were very off-target.
It hasn't hurt too much because of the running game's solid performance. Tim Cornett already has 105 yards, giving him his seventh 100-yard rushing game this season and putting him over 1,000 yards this year. Bradley Randle has also been solid with 41 yards and two scores, one on the ground and one through the air.
New Mexico quarterback Cole Gautsche is 1-for-3 for zero yards. So unlike UNLV's other leads that quickly disappeared, the Lobos are going to have a hard time pulling themselves back into this one with any semblance of a passing game.
UNLV 21, NEW MEXICO 0
6:50 remaining in the second quarter
Three plays. Ninety-seven yards. Fifty-nine seconds. This isn't the way UNLV's offense operates against most teams, but when presented with an inferior defense the Rebels can look quite superior.
UNLV started with the ball at its own three when Cornett broke a run to the outside and rumbled 62 yards down the sideline. The rush put him over 100 yards for the day and 1,000 for the season, the most at UNLV since 2004. He will likely finish with at least the fourth-best rushing season in school history.
After that rush Caleb Herring took a short pass and nearly scored before stepping out of bounds at the nine. Bradley Randle finished it from there with his second score of the day, the first on the ground. UNLV has given away plenty of leads this year so it's far from over, but against a team that can't pass the ball you have to be happy with the Rebels' current position.
UNLV 14, NEW MEXICO 0
11:21 remaining in the second quarter
Once UNLV converted a fourth-and-2 just inside the 40-yard line, this drive seemed destined for the end zone. And that's exactly where it ended up once Nick Sherry hit a wide-open Bradley Randle for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
It was Randle's first career touchdown reception and capped a great drive for the backup. New Mexico's defenders continue to try to tackle him high and he easily breaks through into the second level. The patchwork offensive line is holding up pretty well so far and there really isn't much for UNLV to improve on right now. It's much more important to maintain what they've already been doing.
UNLV 7, NEW MEXICO 0
End of the first quarter
The first quarter was predictably quick thanks to New Mexico's strict diet of runs. UNLV probably would have preferred the first 15 minutes last forever, because they controlled the action on both sides of the ball.
The Rebels' offense has moved the ball with relative ease and, as usual, both Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle are running really well. And since it doesn't have to face the a passing attack the defense has looked pretty good, too. They're getting pressure and for the most part keeping New Mexico's pistol zone-read attack contained between the numbers.
UNLV has had several games like this, where the opening quarter promised good things to come only to end in disappointment. If this is going to be different the defense has to maintain its discipline and Cornett/Randle need to keep finding holes instead of going into hiding as they often had later in games this year.
UNLV 7, NEW MEXICO 0
4:37 remaining in the first quarter
If not for a fumble on its first drive this could be a 14-0 lead for UNLV right now. As it stands the Rebels will have to settle for a one touchdown lead after Tim Cornett capped an 80-yard drive with a 17-yard touchdown run, his seventh of the season.
The Rebels were moving the ball very well on their first drive until a Caleb Herring fumble stalled it at around the New Mexico 30-yard line. UNLV's defense held and when the offense got the ball back they went right back to work. The biggest play was a jump ball to Anthony Williams for a 37-yard gain. That's not exactly a play you want to live on because it was nearly intercepted, but the Rebels were always going to need a few of those plays to go their way if they're going to win today.Cornett nears 1,000 yards as UNLV hosts winnable homecoming game
During a successful year, Tim Cornett’s 1,000-yard season would be big news. He’s not there yet, but with just 65 yards today he’ll get there. So, barring injury, even if it doesn’t happen today, it will happen soon.
If it occurs at home, there probably will be an announcement, people will applaud and that will be it. One thousand yards feels more substantive when it’s led to several victories, not just one.
But maybe that’s where it could matter as UNLV kicks off its final four-game stretch at 1 p.m. today against New Mexico. The game will be televised on 8 News NOW Plus, which is channel 128 on Cox Communications.
Any optimism left for this season most likely is based on a winnable remaining schedule. And any optimism for next year probably is related to UNLV’s strength in the backfield, with quarterback Nick Sherry, Cornett and backup running back Bradley Randle all set to return in 2013. If those two things come together, with Sherry or Cornett and Randle leading the team to victories down the stretch, perhaps people will look back more fondly on what’s sure to be a historic year for Cornett.
The junior averages 103.9 yards per game. If he does that in each of the four remaining games, he’ll finish with about 1,360 rushing yards, the most since 1987 and the third-highest total in school history. Only Ickey Woods (1,658) and Mike Thomas (1,741 in 1973, 1,408 in 1974) have rushed for more yards in a UNLV season. The Rebels went a combined 20-4 in Thomas’ two stellar seasons, and Woods’ 1987 squad was 5-6.
The Rebels could win out to match that five-win total, though even with games only against the other league bottom feeders remaining, that’s unlikely. UNLV has struggled in close games, this year and there’s no reason to believe it has suddenly fixed that until you see it.
Despite his numbers, Cornett deserves some of the blame, too. He’s excellent in the first quarter, often breaking off a long scoring run, but he can rarely do the same things in the second half. Whether that’s because the holes no longer are there, he’s too tired or simply because there are fewer opportunities with UNLV playing from behind is up for debate. It’s probably a combination of all that plus defensive adjustments.
So what would it mean if today’s the day Cornett breaks through that 1,000-yard barrier and UNLV still loses? Considering how much the Lobos have improved in just one year under Bob Davie, we may find out.
Bern’s prediction: Bobby Hauck is nearing the end of his third year at UNLV. And excluding Division I-AA games, his team has been favored only three times — all of them, including today, against New Mexico. He’s 1-1 in those games, blowing out the Lobos in 2010 and losing in Albuquerque last year. I really have no faith in UNLV winning today, but the gambler in me knows to ride a hot streak and that’s what the Rebels are on, against the spread anyway. I don’t like it by much, but I’ll give them the cover. UNLV 28, New Mexico 24.