Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 | midnight
- BOX SCORE: Utah State 35, UNLV 13
- Rebels linebacker: ‘It’s on us’ after Rebels trip themselves up in loss at Utah State
- UNLV backfield trying to keep the good times rolling on the road at Utah State
- Mountain Best: Rebels climb up the rankings after big victory against Air Force
- UNLV football prepares to finally take show on the road Saturday at Utah State
- UNLV linebacker Tani Maka earns weekly defensive honor from the Mountain West
- Rebels earn their breaks and celebrate hard-fought 38-35 victory against Air Force
- Analysis: Hauck deserves time to transform UNLV football into a winner
- All UNLV Football Coverage
LOGAN, Utah — The only good part about a non-conference loss is that unless it’s the beginning of a series, you don’t have to see that team or its star player again. However, thanks to conference realignment, Saturday night’s 402-yard passing performance was just UNLV’s appetizer for two more years of Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton.
The sophomore wasn’t consistent through the entire game, but in the second and fourth quarters he and the offense exploded on the Rebels in a 35-13 victory. And while UNLV is done with Las Vegas native Kerwynn Williams, it’s only getting started with Keeton and a solid defense.
Williams amassed 260 total yards and a touchdown and fellow senior Chuck Jacobs caught two touchdowns. All of Utah State’s other playmakers are coming back.
“The offensive line had an amazing game,” said Keeton, who completed 20-of-33 passes for four touchdowns. “They gave me a lot of time and opened up some huge holes for Kerwynn, Robert Marshall and Joe Hill.”
Marshall is a junior. Hill, a sophomore, turned a screen pass in to a 65-yard gain. The Aggies are on the upswing just as they prepare to enter the Mountain West next season.
Much like UNR and Fresno State this year, Utah State may compete for the league title during its first season in the conference.
The Aggies’ biggest challenge in achieving that goal may be replacing Williams, a Valley alum. He dazzled against his hometown team with 113 yards on the ground and 147 through the air, the most for a nonreceiver at Utah State since 1959.
“He played with some zest,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. “He’s got a little more speed than I expected from watching on film.”
Williams’ stellar day on the ground made it easy for Keeton to sit back in the passing game and not look to run as much as he usually does. Keeton is the team’s second-leading rusher and even on Saturday night he finished with the second-most attempts, though two of those were just sacks.
“There were a couple times where I should have ran instead of trying to force the ball in,” Keeton said.
Generally with mobile quarterbacks the problem is they end up running too much, so the Aggies would gladly deal with this instead.
The 74-yard score off a screen pass on the first play of the fourth quarter was a career long for both Keeton and Williams. For the latter, it’s a nice memory in a special game of his final season.
For the former, it’s a mark that will surely be eclipsed in the coming weeks or years. This team and this quarterback could be the real deal, and starting next year for the Rebels it counts in the conference standings, too.