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Blog: Rebels can’t overcome first-half struggles in loss to Cowboys

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck walks off the field at Sam Boyd Stadium after losing to Wyoming 28-23 Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012.

Updated Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 | 4:22 p.m.

UNLV vs. Wyoming Football

UNLV running back Bradley Randle gets past Wyomingn cornerback Marqueston Huff during the first half of their game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »

WYOMING 28, UNLV 23

Final

Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith passed for 412 yards with three touchdowns to lead the Cowboys to their third consecutive victory with a 28-23 victory against UNLV.

It was the second consecutive loss for the Rebels, who fell to 2-10 and 2-5 in Mountain West play. Wyoming improved to 4-7 and 3-5 in conference games.

UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring threw for 268 yards on 22-of-36 passing with two touchdowns.

The Rebels finish their season on the road against Hawaii next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.

The Rebels haven't won a road game in the Bobby Hauck era — a streak they will have to snap to surpass their win total from last season.

WYOMING 28, UNLV 17

Third quarter

The maligned UNLV secondary had a better showing in the third quarter, limiting Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith to 22 yards.

Despite slowing Smith, the Rebels still trail 28-17 entering the fourth quarter.

UNLV thought it had cut the lead to five after the Rebels succeeded on a fake field goal attempt.

Quarterback Caleb Herring ran the ball 25 yards for a score that was called back when the officials ruled Herring fumbled before crossing the goal line. The ball squirted through the back of the end zone for a touchback, giving the ball to the Cowboys.

Despite the reversal of fortune, UNLV forced Wyoming to punt.

The Cowboys pinned UNLV at its own 5, but the Rebels were driving as the third quarter came to an end.

UNLV running back Bradley Randle continued his strong play, upping his rushing total to 75 yards on 11 carries.

WYOMING 28, UNLV 17

Middle of the third quarter

Since Bobby Hauck came to UNLV, the Rebels have tried plenty of fake field goals.

They got one to work against Wyoming, as Caleb Herring apparently rushed in for a 25-yard touchdown.

The play was reviewed, and the officials ruled that the ball was fumbled before Herring scored. The ball went through the back of the end zone, giving the Cowboys the ball at their own 20.

The touchdown would have cut the Wyoming lead to 28-23.

WYOMING 28, UNLV 17

Halftime

To put it nicely, the UNLV secondary is porous, and Wyoming sophomore quarterback Brett Smith continued his record pace. He has completed 19 of 24 passes for 347 yards with three touchdowns.

The Cowboys lead the Rebels 28-17 at the half.

Smith is on pace to surpass a Sam Boyd opponent passing record set by New Mexico State's Cody Ledbetter in 1995. The most yards UNLV has ever allowed through the air is 588 against UNR in 1993.

The Rebels have allowed 10 plays of 15 yards or more, including six pass plays that have gone for more than 30 yards.

Bradley Randle provided a spark in the second quarter, rushing for 65 yards on eight carries.

Caleb Herring has thrown for 105 yards on 9-of-14 passing with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Barnhill.

Wyoming hasn't punted, and all of the Cowboys' drives have gotten into Rebel territory.

UNLV will get the ball to start the second half.

WYOMING 14, UNLV 7

First quarter

Wyoming sophomore quarterback Brett Smith is off to a great start against UNLV's secondary.

He completed 8 of 10 passes for 165 yards with a touchdown as the Cowboys raced out to a 14-7 lead after the first quarter.

Only two of Smith's completions have gone for fewer than 10 yards, including a 50-yard completion to Robert Herron.

After UNLV returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown — the first score on a blocked field goal try in UNLV history — Smith marched the Cowboys 73 yards in a little more than four minutes to put the Cowboys back up by seven.

UNLV junior running back Tim Cornett was shaken up on the Rebels' first drive but returned later in the quarter. Cornett hasn't been able to get going, rushing five times for two yards.

Caleb Herring, who started in place of injured quarterback Nick Sherry, completed his first four attempts for 44 yards.

UNLV returns blocked field goal try for a touchdown to tie game at 7

After Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith carved up the Rebels' secondary to the tune of 124 yards, UNLV got a big play when Tim Hasson blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt. Sidney Hodge scooped up the ball, returning it 53 yards for a score that tied the game at 7 in the first quarter.

It was the first time in UNLV history that the Rebels have returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown.

In other news, UNLV junior running back Tim Cornett was shaken up at the 9:16 mark on a four-yard loss. He was tackled low by Wyoming's Mike Purcell but walked off the field on his own power.

Herring starts at quarterback in place of Sherry

Junior quarterback/wide receiver Caleb Herring is starting at quarterback today for UNLV. Nick Sherry, who suffered a head injury against Colorado State, got loose, but Herring took snaps with the first team during pregame warmups.

Herring has played in all 11 games — mostly at wide receiver. He has taken snaps at quarterback, completing 2 of 5 passes for 33 yards. At receiver, he has caught 16 balls for 125 yards.

Rebels look to pick up momentum by beating Wyoming

UNLV (2-9, 2-4 Mountain West) finishes its home schedule today with a matinee tilt against Wyoming (3-7, 2-4). Despite struggling on the road, the Rebels have played well at home, losing three games by five points or fewer.

With a win, UNLV will have won three games for the first time since 2009.

Cornett needs one touchdown to move into a tie for sixth place on the UNLV career list, and he and Bradley Randle should run over a Wyoming defense that is allowing 223 yards per game on the ground.

The Cowboys enter today on a two-game winning streak.

Sophomore Brett Smith has thrown 22 touchdowns with just six interceptions. He has completed 61.5 percent of his passes (161 of 262) for 2,165 yards. He threw for 374 yards in the Cowboys' last outing, a 28-23 victory against New Mexico.

If UNLV can keep him in check, then the Rebels have a good chance at eclipsing last season's win total and build momentum heading into the season finale against Hawaii.

Paul's prediction: UNLV 23, Wyoming 16

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  1. Wow, Hauck deserves an contract extension for this amazing showing! He is the man for us!!! I am sorry I ever doubted the guy...Looking amazing Rebels though 3 quarters.

  2. wow looks like there were just as many folks at Centennial vs Gorman last night