UNLV football:

Rebels give away their chance to snap road losing streak at Colorado State

The Rams scored 21 points off turnovers in the first half and cruised from there in a momentum-killing 33-11 loss for UNLV

Image

Associated Press

UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck reacts as his team fails to convert on a third-down play in the red zone against Colorado State in the fourth quarter of Colorado State’s 33-11 victory in an NCAA college football game in Fort Collins, Colo., Nov. 10, 2012.

UNLV vs. Colorado State

UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck reacts as his team fails to convert on a third-down play in the red zone against Colorado State in the fourth quarter of Colorado State's 33-11 victory in an NCAA college football game in Fort Collins, Colo., Nov. 10, 2012. Launch slideshow »

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Whatever momentum UNLV had after dispatching New Mexico last week disappeared Saturday night after the first turnover that Colorado State returned for a touchdown. Or maybe it vanished after the second time the Rams did that. Perhaps it even hung on until CSU scored easily on a short field following yet another Rebels giveaway.

Whenever it went away, it’s not coming back this season, not after an embarrassing 33-11 loss to Colorado State (3-7, 2-4) in a game that was over by halftime. This game, and particularly that start that saw the Rams jump out to a 21-0 lead without having to drive more than 19 yards, left UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, let’s say, aggravated.

“I’ve got other words in my vocabulary that aren’t fit for print,” Hauck said. “… Nobody overcomes that, even the best teams don’t overcome that and we aren’t one of the best teams.”

UNLV’s hopes to finish these last four games strong and make positive strides going into the offseason went up in the smoke from the Rams’ celebratory cannon and fireworks after each score. The cannon’s boom rattled Hughes Stadium, sending a shockwave through the announced attendance of 13,887 (that in reality was a little more than half that).

This game meant little to the outside world. It was a battle of bottom-feeders searching for something positive. Both sides came in believing it was winnable, which was probably accurate. Colorado State had only defeated Colorado and Hawaii this season, and UNLV (2-9, 2-4) now has a road losing streak (21) that matched the postgame temperature. That said, only the Rams played like they had something to fight for.

“We came in with the mantra that we determine the outcome,” first-year CSU coach Jim McElwain said. “We do, no one else.”

UNLV freshman quarterback Nick Sherry’s day started with a completion for a loss of six yards and ended with a thud to the frozen turf. In between he threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and completed 40 percent of his passes in the worst performance of his young career.

His status going forward is uncertain as Sherry exited the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent head injury. Linebacker Max Morgan came through the line and grabbed Sherry by both legs, snapping the quarterback’s head down against a surface hardened by the frigid temperatures. Junior Caleb Herring finished the game at quarterback. Sherry was unavailable for comment after the game.

Two of his turnovers, the first interception and the fumble, led directly to points for the Rams. The interception was an off-balanced throw on a screen play that defensive end Shaquil Barrett returned the 49 yards for the first score of the game. His fumble led to a short field, 19 yards, that the Rams covered in two plays.

“You can’t gift wrap a game like that,” Hauck said.

There’s some bad luck involved with having turnovers returned for scores, but it can’t happen if you don’t give it away in the first place. It’s unlucky that Sherry’s pass and Bradley Randle’s fumble in the second quarter both found their way into the hands of Rams with nothing but space in front of them. In a situation like this, though, UNLV has to create its own luck, and that includes holding on to the ball.

“Turnovers killed us,” junior running back Tim Cornett said. “… Nobody’s won a game with a lot of turnovers like that.”

It didn’t help that UNLV strived for a balanced offense when the run was clearly working better than the pass. Cornett eclipsed 100 yards for the eighth time this season and he was averaging more than six yards per carry at halftime. Still, at that point he had fewer rushes than Sherry had pass attempts despite the fact Sherry was just 6-of-17 with those two interceptions. One reason the Rebels may not have hammered the run, besides being down, was that Randle’s night ended with that turnover early in the second quarter. He finished with three carries for five yards and was either benched for coughing it up or may have been hurt on the play.

UNLV’s defense really didn’t play that poorly in the first half, though the scoreboard didn’t show it. They gave up a long drive on the first possession but turned the Rams away with an interception. The only scores they gave up when the game was still within reach were the two-play touchdown drive and a long field goal just before halftime.

CSU freshman quarterback Conner Smith, and yes, he’s a backup, finished 16-for-27 for 109 yards and running back Donnell Alexander had a career night with 139 rushing yards and two scores. It was the Rams’ defense, though, that did the heavy lifting, with a lot of credit due to UNLV for turning it over.

The Rebels didn’t score until the fourth quarter, which is especially notable considering CSU came in giving up 32 points per game. They should have at least had a chance to end the road losing streak because unlike the previous road games this season UNLV and CSU are on the same level. The Rebels may even be more talented, though this outcome certainly suggests otherwise.

There was still a chance to do something positive with the end of this season for UNLV. On Saturday night the Rebels gave that away.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 10 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy.

  1. Let's give the greatest coach in Division 1 football a raise, where would we be without you Hauck?!? Just when you think you sank to your lowest point, you sir, go even deeper. Maybe this great performance will be the nail that finally seals your coffin as a "so called" coach of the Rebels. You should just save yourself the embarrassment and just not even show up to work on Monday!

  2. Ya there were fumbles and Sherry aweful, but also got to throw into the list the dropped balls by the receivers too. Watching it on TV it did look very cold....I saw it was 19 deg & snow. God that is insane conditions. Coming from Vegas that is quite an ajustment. Not sure it is safe to play in that....I don't know how the Packers do that.

  3. The entire coaching staff needs to go! This is the most pathetic excuse for a D-1 football team! Buy-um out, fire-um, just bring in new blood. It cannot possibly get any worse. No roads wins since the Hauckster was hired is enough to get rid of them!

  4. "...just bring in new blood." That's essentially what they said after Hyde, then Nunley, then Strong, then Horton, then Robinson, then Stanford, and now you expect a different outcome if you fire Hauk before his contract is up? Sure, maybe, but most likely probably not! It just doesn't make sense to fire this coach, just so you can hurry up and fire the next guy, before his contract is over. It is just a waste of money (I'm not opining whether Hauk is or isn't a waste of money; but, to buy out Hauk's contract which takes money from the financial package you could potentially offer to a new coach and coaching staff is not only a waste of money, but it compounds that waste), especially to a university that is debilitated by budget woes!

    About the game, like I commented on the blog coverage during the game, I'm glad I wasn't able to watch the game.

  5. I wonder how bad Sherry was injured Perhaps a Concussion I hope not

  6. @John, you need to understand that that Hauck is costing not only the school money but the league. He needs to go. It will be cheaper to just get rid of the knucklehead. Step up and actually pay a decent amount to get a good coach. Yes the AD dept can afford it. Just fans need to speak up.

  7. Fire the AD....he's the fool who signed Hauck and then gave him an extension. He should be held accountable for his bad decisions.

  8. The weather was horrible. 27 degrees and snowing like it was, I can't really blame them.

  9. We should all follow the media like lambs to slaughter. Give him several more years and a raise and he will still win 2 games a year. The thing that bothers me is it isn't about time, the factor that is so often cited by the media. It is about undisciplined, sloppy, coach by the seat of your pants, what's a screen pass philosophy of this coaching staff. If you can't identify poor coaching and poor players not because of talent but because of intelligence, then you shouldn't be writing about the game. Nothing makes sense, poor execution, ridiculous penalties, and now turnovers.

    All things, especially weather should be considered in your game plan. Hanging onto the football, possession and ball control. Instead we go out like it's 70 and sunny throwing the ball all over the place, carrying it like a loaf of bread. Livengood needs to tie his job to Hauck's, perhaps then he would think twice about continuing this farce. Of all the coaches we have had to bear, this one is the absolute worse, and the attendance reflects it. There is cry about money but the plan is to fill the stadium with a 2 win team. That's just pure genius.

  10. Just please go back to Montana.........