UNLV Football:

Rebels come up short in final home game of season

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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.

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 »

The fans who attended UNLV's final home game found a fitting way to sum up the 2012 season.

There was a big downer in the game against Wyoming (Wyoming sophomore quarterback Brett Smith threw for 347 yards in the first half) followed a major positive (a great second half that saw UNLV's defense shut down the same prolific offense).

But alas, like nine other games this season, the Rebels found themselves on the short end.

"We were almost there, but everyone is sick of that," said UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, visibly frustrated at a 28-23 loss to the Cowboys, the latest chapter to the up-and-down tale of the 2012 Rebels.

The Rebels (2-10, 2-5 Mountain West) wrapped up their home schedule — one that looked oh-so-promising at the start of the season — with two wins and five losses.

There were plenty of long faces that walked out of the UNLV locker room for the last time this season, but running back Bradley Randle wasn't as downtrodden as the rest of his Rebel brethren.

There's one more game to play, he said, and one last chance to eclipse last year's win total (2). He's obviously ignoring the road woes UNLV has had (0-19), but it's not in his DNA to reflect on the negatives too long, especially with a business-first trip to Hawaii next Saturday.

"It's going to be a beautiful game at a beautiful stadium," said Randle, who rushed for a team-high 76 yards on 13 carries. "We've still got one more, which is a beautiful thing. ... We have to send out our seniors with a big smiling face up in Hawaii."

Of course, like many of UNLV's games this season, there were plenty of positives, such as the 426 yards of offense (244 coming in the second half), the first-ever blocked field goal returned for a touchdown and a career-best effort from former walk-on Trey Mays (five catches, 62 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown catch from a tipped pass).

But UNLV will look back at the Wyoming loss and wonder: "What if quarterback Caleb Herring didn't fumble at the Wyoming 1-yard line off of that fake field goal?"

For once, a fake field goal worked in UNLV's favor, at least on first glance.

The Rebels looked like they were going to attempt a 42-yard field goal attempt from the Wyoming 25. Instead, Herring stood up and ran to his right with a clear path to the end zone. The ball came loose, but the play was called a touchdown.

Then came the dreaded "play is under review" call from the official. It was discovered that Herring fumbled at the 1-yard line and the ball squirted through the back of the endzone, giving the Cowboys the ball at their own 20.

"He came over the top. He made a hustle play. ... I assumed I had a free run," Herring said. "I had doubts (that the touchdown would stand). When you have doubts, that's a sign. It's something that happens and then the call was made. You have to live with it."

Randle, keeping with his positive frame of mind, believed Herring scored on the play.

"I still think Caleb had a touchdown, but it wasn't my call," he said.

Other than that, Herring played well in place of injured freshman Nick Sherry. Herring threw for 268 yards on 22-of-36 passing with two touchdowns.

But nothing could take the sting away of another missed opportunity to win a game.

"It's very frustrating. It's even more frustrating that we're a good team," Herring said. "Sometimes, the ball is just falling the other way and things just go another way on any given night."

It's easy to think that had Herring's score counted; the Rebels could have won the game, especially after the defense recovered from an ugly opening 30 minutes.

The UNLV secondary was torched by big play after big play. Smith racked up most of his yards and all of his touchdowns in the first half thanks to six plays of more than 30 yards.

"We didn't play well enough on either side of the ball in the first half," Hauck said.

The UNLV defense did a better job on Smith in the second half, limiting him to 65 yards in the second half.

Outside of a 66-yard scamper by Brandon Miller in the final minute of the game, the Cowboys (4-7, 3-4) couldn't move the ball as efficiently in the final two quarters.

"Did the Wyoming offense come out in the second half? I didn't see them," Wyoming coach Dave Christensen quipped. "We tried to run a little bit more in the second half, and then we got behind the sticks some."

Paul Delos Santos can be reached at 990-2416 or [email protected]. Follow Paul on Twitter at twitter.com/pauliedelos.

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  1. Been supportive on earlier posts about Hauck,but we all were waiting to see how last 4 games of season would go against conference bottom feeders-result is that Hauck is in over his head. Seems like he has been able to recruit some decent talent to this team,but his game management is pathetic. How can you recruit after a third year of 2 win seasons-and I don't think he will win next year with a more experienced team. Obviously,inheriting a winning team at Montana at the FCS level does not prepare you at Div. 1 level. Shame is that there are talented players on this team when you look at skill positions on offense-but play calling is terrible,team doesn't even hustle when behind in forth quarter and defense can't stop any offense on 3rd and ten! No excuse for this loss and to CSU-Snow!? CSU recruits from California too! If you keep Hauck,the fan's rants and behavior will be real nasty next year,will be too painfull to keep this guy around.

  2. Hauck = Joke....We should fire the AD for extending this loser. Huge mistake for UNLV.

  3. Why is UNLV wasting good money on a failed program should be the question. Like so many other governmental bureaucracies, UNLV always seems to have it hand out begging for "More, please," when it comes to taxpayer funds, yet can't seem to wean itself of losing propositons like football.

  4. Jerry: the mountain west conference requires member schools to have a football program. Most conferences do, as it typically makes more money for the conference than any other sport. That's why bYu, SDSU, and Boise State had to find new conferences for their non football athletics.

  5. Jerry, not just what Andrew said but also the budget for the Athletic Dept. does NOT come from the tax payers. They get paid from tv contract, sponsorships, endorsements, from the conference, trusts, as well as donors.

  6. I'm not embarassed to say that I've been going to UNLV football games for over 30 years, and have witnessed the good and the bad(mostly bad), but have never been more optimistic about the direction the program is going. Yes their won-loss record doesn't reflect their progress, but to see how much bigger, stronger and faster this team is, as compared to the teams Mike Sanford fielded, speaks volumes. Diplomat, as for your complaints about Coach Hauck, yes he inherited a winning team at Montana, but he also had a full cupboard on arrival, and didn't have to markedly change the offense to keep winning. Mike Sanford, for all intents and purposes, gutted the program, recruiting predominantly second tier athletes to play his vaunted run and shoot offense. We all know how that turned out. Hauck, for all his shortcomings, has had to completely rebuild the team, to play the pro-set offense that will eventually lead to UNLV fielding a better team. Furthermore, he has shouldered all responsibility, for his teams successes and failures. I'd say UNLV is closer to turning the corner than is indicated, given the fact only 15 seniors graduated yesterday. This tells me that this is still a young team, and has the potential to be an improved team next year. Call me an eternal optimist, but I'm also putting my money where my mouth is and re-upping for next year. I hope to see you pessimists out at Sam Boyd next Fall.

  7. Kind of agree with diplomat..Dave good points too..I'm not sure about Hauck as I used to be. Hopefully Phenocie not calling plays..He's a joke.I'd get rid of him..I think UNLV is a good team but no depth..Seems Bobby good at recruiting but not sure if he really knows how to coach & deal with young men, nor if he has proper cast of coaches. If Phenocie is an indication of his staff he's in trouble & thus where the problem is.

  8. @GoBruins: you asserted, "Jerry, not just what Andrew said but also the budget for the Athletic Dept. does NOT come from the tax payers." In 2012 the state of Nevada funded UNLV athletics to the amount of $6,492,671 ($3.757M for salaries; $2.736M facilities maintenance [$totals from the link below]). But, the rest of the money to operate the athletic budget, does come from other revenue streams.

    http://blogs.rgj.com/packblog/2012/10/10...

    here is another interesting link about athletic budgets from ESPN:

    http://b2.caspio.com/dp.asp

  9. Hopefully this link will work for the ESPN data.

    http://b2.caspio.com/dp.asp?AppKey=900c1...

  10. Tough loss for the Rebels.. Brett Smith is one of the best QB's in the conference, so it's not surprising the Rebels awful secondary gave up quite a few big plays. That said, the Rebels fought back and had a chance to win the game if a controversial PI call had been called by the female referee standing right next to the play. She literally had to move out of the way as the WR was getting knocked out of bounds as the ball sailed right over his head.

    Oh well, hopefully they can end the season on their first road win in 4 years. It would be a good momentum builder going into next year.

  11. So @John your rebuttal is a link to show that ticket sales are down, student fees are low (which is the case with all university's, not a lot of tuition goes to the AD dept, money from away games is low (well no kidding what big games do they play on the road?) donors put a good chunk in, (that will change if Hauck is not let go soon, no payment from a 3rd party well go figure there, who would give him money besides UNLV? Have you not seen that amazingly bad coaching job he has done? So yes the UNIVERSITY has to cover the rest. Which comes out of the AD budget. You also pointed to a link where you wanted to show a huge tax burden on us. Well if you would have read the article then you would have noticed that the tax money that went to UNLV athletic Dept. as a WHOLE was $7.5 million this year of which $4.7 million is usable money and $2.7 million goes to maintenance. That is for all sports! So we will break that down a little further... According to Wikipedia UNLV plays in 13 sports, so worse case we will say the football program gets 1/4 of the total money from that, which is a little over $1 million dollars. Please excuse me on the errors of my ways...

    So we the tax payers are footing the bill for this talent-less joke of a coach to win 2 games a year! Come on you people how can you not call for this mans head? What is wrong with each of you!?! There is a select few here who want this joke of a program to go in the right direction. It take more then 4-5 people to cause enough of a stir to get things moving! Yet so many of you are feeding into Haucks "well always next year" routine that nothing is going to change. This is on you people who buy into this worthless clown as he cashes his checks every 2 weeks and laughs at us because he is actually getting away with not being able to coach.

    So I apologize for being wrong.