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October 23, 2014

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

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Instant Analysis: Rebels did their part; now they play bowl-bid waiting game

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

A UNLV fan holds up a sign reading “We Want ‘Bama” during their Mountain West Conference game against San Diego State Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 at Sam Boyd Stadium.

UNLV vs. San Diego State: Nov. 30, 2013

UNLV defensive back Mike Horsey and head coach Bobby Hauck chest bump after the defense stopped San Diego State during their Mountain West Conference game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 at Sam Boyd Stadium. UNLV won 45-19. Launch slideshow »

Here are some quick observations from the UNLV football team’s 45-19 victory against San Diego State in the regular season finale:

What the win means : Aside from the victory at UNR, this was easily the Rebels’ most important win of the year, especially when considering their quest to be picked for a bowl game for the first time in 13 seasons. With 78 teams bowl-eligible for 70 spots, this victory puts UNLV at the seven-win plateau, making them more attractive than teams stuck at six wins. But being selected for a bowl isn’t a guarantee. First, UNLV football has a light following and likely won’t bring a huge fanbase to a bowl game. The good news is seven-win San Diego State is the best team UNLV beat this year. And the Rebels destroyed them. They were great offensively and solid defensively with the exception of the opening series when the Aztecs scored in two plays. For a UNLV team with six combined wins the past three years, finishing the regular season with 7-5 record is a major step in the right direction. They deserve a bowl bid and a chance to finish with a postseason win. I have no insight or solid opinion on where, or if, they’ll reach a bowl. But with the way they are playing, it would sure be fun to see the season extended.

Devante Davis, the record setter: Devante Davis took an eraser to the UNLV football record book. He finished with 171 yards receiving and four touchdowns on eight catches, becoming the 11th player in school history with more than 2,000 receiving yards. His four touchdowns gave him 14 receiving touchdowns on the season, which broke the single-season record of 11 touchdowns from 1980. Yes, 1980. He also became the first Rebel to have three or more receiving touchdowns in more than three games in the same season. Bottom line, the junior from the Houston area is having a great year. So good one fan asked on Twitter if Davis would declare for the NFL Draft. That’s never crossed my mind. But, with the way he’s playing, he’s definitely going to get a shot in a NFL camp. To answer the question, he’ll be back next fall to keep that draft stock skyrocketing.

Farewell, Nolan : Kicker Nolan Kohorst was the first recruit to commit to Bobby Hauck four years ago, deciding to play his college football at home when that wasn’t the trendy thing to do. A native Las Vegan, he went out in style during his final game at Sam Boyd Stadium in drilling a 50-yard attempt. It was part of a nine-point effort for Kohorst , making him the all-time leading scorer in program history. The Green Valley High product has struggled at times this year in making just 10 of 18 field goal attempts and missing three extra points. But he made the game-winner against Hawaii, was part of the team to finally beat UNR and could be playing in a bowl game. Love when locals have success at UNLV, especially players so passionate about the hometown university.

Locals on the UNLV roster : Canyon Springs High product Donnel Pumphrey is one of San Diego State’s top players, which will surely cause UNLV fans to ask how the freshman running back got away. Pumphrey, who today finished with 87 rushing yards on 13 carries, is one of the top freshman in the Mountain West with more than 1,000 total yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns. But he was never was going to play at UNLV. He’s originally from San Diego and desperately wanted to return home. The fact he took a recruiting trip to UNLV was a major score for coach Bobby Hauck and his staff. And while top-end local recruits continue to get away — including some to San Diego State — Hauck has hit a home run with locals. He’s recruiting under-the-radar players and developing them into contributors. Tyler Gaston of Rancho (one of Nevada’s worst programs) had an interception against San Diego State and has been a solid performer all year on the defensive line, Marcus Sullivan of Cheyenne caught a touchdown against the Aztecs and senior linebacker Tim Hasson of Cimarron-Memorial went from walk-on to one of UNLV’s best defenders. Including Kohorst, seven locals started tonight for UNLV. They’ve been difference-makers in the turnaround and great examples to other local players that you can enjoy the college football experience by staying at home. Sure, UNLV will never get the four-star recruit from powerhouse Bishop Gorman. But they have done of consistent job of finding players to fit into their system.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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