Rebels football:

Blog: Rebels roll to 2-2 record with 38-7 blowout against Western Illinois

Running backs Tim Cornett and Adonis Smith each had two rushing touchdowns and UNLV cruised

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Barry Wong / Special to the Sun

UNLV teammates Robert Waterman (79) and Jake Phillips (46) celebrate a touchdown in the second quarter against Western Illinois at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013.

Updated Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 | 9:10 p.m.

Rebels vs. Western Illinois

UNLV junior running back Shaquille Murray-Lawrence runs past Western Illinois junior defensive back Martinez Davis in the fourth quarter at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. Launch slideshow »

UNLV 38, Western Illinois 7

Game over

UNLV moved to 2-2 on the season with a solid 38-7 victory tonight against Western Illinois. The Rebels led by as much as 31 and never struggled.

This is exactly the type of game the Rebels needed to have against an overmatched Leathernecks squad. UNLV moved the ball all over the field from the very beginning and the defense stifled several WIU drives.

The Rebels now go on the road to New Mexico, where UNLV will attempt to snap its 23-game road losing streak. Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' victory.

UNLV 38, Western Illinois 7

11:54 remaining in the fourth quarter

UNLV's backup running backs are putting on a nice show. Shaquille Murray-Lawrence had a 33-yard run that helped set up Adonis Smith's 16-yard touchdown run, his second of the game.

This is exactly the type of game UNLV needed. The defense has been very good and the offense continues to create and exploit holes in the running game. Really solid performance from UNLV.

UNLV 31, Western Illinois 7

2:15 remaining in the third quarter

So much for the shutout. Western Illinois marched down the field and quarterback Trenton Norvell found a wide open receiver after scrambling around.

The fact that this is even a little disheartening is a good indicator of how well this game has gone for the Rebels. It will be interesting to see how UNLV attempts to respond on offense. If it works I'm guessing the Rebels would prefer to keep everything on teh ground, but they may try to be a little aggressive.

UNLV 31, Western Illinois 0

10:26 remaining in the third quarter

UNLV is going to defeat a Division I-AA team. That doesn't sound like much but for a team that had lost two straight to a team from that level it matters.

It also helps that UNLV is doing this so easily. The most recent score, a short Adonis Smith run, was set up by Tani Maka's interception. Now the focus turns from any potential comeback to whether or not UNLV can hold on to the shutout.

UNLV 24, Western Illinois 0

11:47 remaining in the third quarter

Tim Cornett's rushing average gets a nice bump from a 42-yard touchdown run that couldn't have been much easier. The Rebels lead 24-0.

The Leathernecks loaded the box on third down and as soon as Cornett broke through the hole there was no one left within 10 yards of him. The score is his second on the day and gives him 83 yards on 12 carries (6.9 yards per carry).

At this stage there's little reason for UNLV to open up the passing game so we should see plenty more opportunities for that offensive line to open up some nice holes.

This game has been pretty boring overall, and that's exactly what UNLV wanted. It's one-sided all for the home team.

UNLV 17, Western Illinois 0

Halftime

There's no need for UNLV to make a change at quarterback or really anywhere else right now. While not an amazing half, the Rebels are the better team and they're playing that way with a 17-0 halftime lead.

Caleb Herring is 7-for-10 for 90 yards and a score with another 47 rushing yards. Tim Cornett is having another slow start but he picked it up towards the end of the half to finish with 40 yards on 10 carries.

Western Illinois has twice been at or inside the 20-yard line and elected to go for it. The Leathernecks can't kick a field goal, which means UNLV will be fine so long as they keep WIU out of the end zone. While a big play is always a possibility, UNLV's defense hasn't given up anything like that so far and appears to be dialed in very well to the Leathernecks' play calls.

On offense it's strange that Devante Davis doesn't have a ctach, or even a target, but the Rebels also haven't needed to go his way. While it's important UNLV keep pushing the ball they don't need to try to get fancy in the second half. Keep running well and hit a few passes.

The offensive line is giving Herring time and he's doing well with that. UNLV can't get complacent but at the moment it appears WIU's only route back into the game is through Rebels' mistakes. Avoid those and UNLV should be fine.

UNLV 17, Western Illinois 0

5:30 remaining in the second quarter

UNLV is still rolling right along, taking a 17-0 lead in the second quarter on a nice pass from Caleb Herring to Jake Phillips.

Phillips is the guy who dropped a first down on Herring's first pass attempt, one of only a couple of unsuccessful drives for the Rebels. He made up for it with a nice streaking pattern down the middle and a catch he had to secure well because Phillips took a decent shot on his way into the end zone.

Western Illinois can move the ball but the Leathernecks keep stalling when they get inside the 20-yard line. They're basically looking for a touchdown or nothing and the Rebels thus far are giving them nothing.

UNLV 10, Western Illinois 0

End of the first quarter

The Leathernecks are still scoreless because they opted to go for it on 4th-and-15 rather than attempt a 37-yard field goal. That's great news for the Rebels, who now know they would have to let WIU get to about the 10-yard line before they attempted a kick.

UNLV easily stopped that attempt and then moved the ball down for a field goal that extended the lead to 10-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Leathernecks took some bites out of the defense on short passes that weren't tackled well. That's about the only criticism right now.

UNLV is the better team and it's playing like it.

UNLV 7, Western Illinois 0

8:08 remaining in the first quarter

If not for a dropped pass on his first attempt, Caleb Herring may have two touchdown drives. After a stutter start to the game UNLV finished its second drive with a short Tim Cornett touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead.

The defense isn't allowing Western Illinois to go much of anywhere outside of a few trick plays and the offense looks very capable of moving the ball. At least when the intended targets catch it.

Bobby Hauck has said that both quarterbacks would play and that may happen, but as long as Herring and the offense continue to move the ball like this there's no reason to make a change.

UNLV looks to even overall record against Western Illinois today

Based on what UNLV coach Bobby Hauck has said all week, we’ll see both quarterbacks on the field in tonight’s home game at 6 against Western Illinois. The question is which one of those two — senior Caleb Herring or sophomore Nick Sherry — will get the start, and if Herring isn’t the answer then Hauck will have some explaining to do.

Not long ago, in fact just last week, Sherry still seemed like the Rebels current and future starter. Another interception and then Herring’s career day once he entered the game changed that current dynamic.

Simply put, if Herring’s performance didn’t earn him the starting nod then I don’t know what would. He set a program record for completion percentage (86) while tossing three touchdowns.

I don’t disagree with Hauck keeping an “open” competition in practice. The situation is far from settled so both guys need to get reps and see how they progress. I’m not thrilled with the idea of both guys playing no matter what but I’m also not sure if Hauck would stick to that should the starter come out playing very well yet the game stay relatively close.

What I do know is Herring needs to be the starter. He earned it last week no matter what transpired in practice.

What happens from there is tough to guess because we’ve seen UNLV blow these games before, even against a middling Division I-AA team like the Leathernecks. But if the offense can play anywhere close to the way it did in the second half against Central Michigan then UNLV should move to 2-2. And since Herring was the quarterback responsible for that performance he deserves the chance to try to carry it over to today.

Bern’s prediction: A third straight loss to a Division I-AA team would be devastating. I don’t think the Rebels will have to worry about that. UNLV 35, Western Illinois 18

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

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