Published Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 | 3:46 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012 | 8:30 p.m.
- 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
- Keep your composure: Defending Air Force one of the more unique challenges in football
- Mountain Best: UNR tops the Sun’s initial Mountain West college football rankings
- UNLV needs better pickup lines as it enters difficult stretch of the schedule
- All UNLV Football Coverage
UTAH STATE 35, UNLV 13
LOGAN, Utah — Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams took a screen pass 74 yards down the field for a two-touchdown lead against his hometown team, and from there the route was on as the Aggies pulled away for a 35-13 victory against UNLV.
The Rebels failed to capitalize on their opportunities in the third quarter, and once the fourth hit it was all over. Williams' play was the first play of the fourth quarter, and it didn't take long for Utah State to march right back down the field where Chuckie Keeton connected with Chuck Jacobs for their second touchdown of the game. Keeton finished with more than 400 yards and four touchdowns through the air while Williams amassed 113 yards on 20 carries and 147 yards on seven catches. That's the most receiving yards by a non-receiver at Utah State since 1959.
The thing is, UNLV wasn't outplayed the entire game. Certainly the Rebels weren't the better team on the field, but they put together some drives and seemed like they would have a slight chance to make just enough stops. But when the offense came up with field goals instead of touchdowns it seemed like it wouldn't be enough, and things quickly got out of hand from there.
Quarterback Nick Sherry's first road start wasn't a positive one, though he did have his moments. The final stats won't look good. Like the rest of the team, though, he had moments. Just not nearly enough of them.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report on tonight's game.
UTAH STATE 27, UNLV 13
14:44 remaining in the fourth quarter
UNLV's second straight trip inside the 5-yard line resulted in another made field goal. It only took Utah State a few plays to surpass those six points as Chuckie Keeton connected with Kerwynn Williams for a 74-yard touchdown, a career long for both players.
Utah State hasn't been consistent at all tonight, but the Aggies have shown the ability to break a long play at any given time. That's why it was so frustrating for UNLV to end up with field goals rather than touchdowns. You had to figure Utah State would break one open eventually, and now that it has the Rebels are a full two possessions behind on the scoreboard. That's going to be very difficult to overcome this late in the game.
UTAH STATE 20, UNLV 10
12:44 remaining in the third quarter
The ball bounced UNLV's way on the first two plays of the second half and the Rebels turned it into a field goal, though it would have been really nice to get a touchdown considering they were inside the 5.
On the first play James Boyd forced a fumble that Mark Garrick recovered for the Rebels. On the next play Sherry threw behind his intended target and the ball bounced high towards the end zone, where UNLV's Tyler Bergsten somehow came down with it amid a pair of Aggies defenders. You don't get that kind of good fortune very often so it's disappointing that the Rebels only came away with a 24-yard field goal.
It's better than nothing of course. And it could give them something to build on for this next defensive drive. But as this game wears on UNLV simply can't leave any potential points on the board. The Rebels are simply too far behind a really good Aggies team to get away with it.
UTAH STATE 20, UNLV 7
It's got to be more disheartening for the UNLV players and coaches when their the ones holding themselves back. Utah State is better, yes, but the Rebels have played just as good for stretches. Problem is those have been followed up by silly mistakes that prevent attempts at points and directly led to Utah State getting a last-second field goal.
The final drive was the worst in that regard. UNLV moved the ball down the field and looked like it may get at least a field-goal attempt. That's when senior offensive lineman Doug Zismann committed a really silly personal foul after the play that put the Rebels back at the 35 for third and 18. On that play Sherry thought the Aggies were flagged for offsides, but it was actually illegal formation on the offense and Sherry's lofted pass was easily intercepted.
Instead of running out the clock, Utah State took a shot and got within field-goal range largely thanks to a 45-yard catch and run by Vegas native Kerwynn Williams, who has six catches for 73 yards in the first half. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton is 16-of-24 for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
UNLV's offense tailed off at the same time as its defense — about midway through the second quarter. The Rebels are getting outgained 304-169 despite winning the time of possession by nearly two minutes. Utah State is 3-for-3 in the red zone and in general has looked nothing like the team that couldn't quite put things together in the first quarter.
Sherry is 11-of-19 for 117 yards with one score and one pick. His passes took a considerable drop in the last few drives. If UNLV is going to have a chance now it's going to have to start piling up points, and that's got to start with Sherry finding the rhythm he had in the game's first 20 minutes.
UTAH STATE 17, UNLV 7
5:25 left in the second quarter
I said it could be a 10-point deficit in a hurry, but I didn't think it would only take the Aggies two plays.
After a three-and-out and a bad punt gave Utah State the ball at the 50, Keeton threw a laser on second down for a 50-yard score that was possible because UNLV went for the strip instead of the tackle. The receiver could have been down inside the 20 but instead he spun out of the strip attempt and cruised into the end zone.
UNLV has gone three-and-out once again and now they are in serious trouble. I said there would be two more scores in the half, and at this rate it looks like both will belong to the Aggies.
UTAH STATE 10, UNLV 7
7:24 left in the second quarter
Considering UNLV's struggles in the secondary, it figured the Rebels' most likely route to a victory would be a shootout. That may have just started midway through the second quarter tonight in Logan.
UNLV and Utah State went scoreless in the first quarter, but after a field goal they've exchanged quick touchdowns and it feels like there may be a couple more of those scores by halftime. The Rebels' challenge is making sure they get at least one of those.
Utah State moved down the field easily with Kerwynn Williams making a lot of UNLV defenders miss in the open field. Chuckie Keeton finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass. If UNLV's offense doesn't at least hold on to the ball for a little while they may be looking at a 10-point deficit in a hurry.
UNLV 7, UTAH STATE 3
10:45 left in the second quarter
Sherry doesn't look much different on the road than he did at home, and that's good news for the Rebels. Sherry found Devante Davis on a third-down crossing route that Davis carried down inside the 30 and a penalty set the Rebels up inside the 10, where Sherry connected with Max Johnson for the 7-3 lead.
On the touchdown play Sherry rolled out to his left on a play-action call that found Johnson without a defender within 10 yards of him. It was a great play call set up by Bradley Randle's solid gains in the run game.
Sherry and the offense looked like they were building to this on the first drive and it's important that they finish it off right after Utah State gets on the board. The Aggies are going to find the end zone, too, but the Rebels have the advantage right now. That's all you can ask for.
UTAH STATE 3, UNLV 0
14:16 left in the second quarter
Other than jumping out to a big lead, this is the best-case scenario for UNLV in the first quarter. The time of possession in the first quarter was about even, the Rebels' defense held when it needed to on the first drive and overall it's been pretty ugly, which helps keep UNLV in the game.
Utah State hit a field goal early in the second quarter, but the Rebels will take that in the long run.
Freshman quarterback Nick Sherry, playing in his first road game, has been solid, though a couple of bad passes derailed the first drive. Penalties hurt the second drive. Between the two UNLV was able to chew up some clock and bully the defense a little bit, which could pay dividends as this game wears on.
Utah State is going to score. It's a matter of when, not if. But by holding strong in the first 15 minutes the Rebels set themselves up well to build some momentum into halftime.UNLV continues search for progress at Utah State in first road game
LOGAN, Utah — A lot of the discussions around the UNLV football program this year have revolved around progress and whether there has been any.
The people on the pro-progress side focus on the small margins of defeat in the first three weeks. The victory against Air Force gave that side of the argument a much better leg to stand on.
On the other side are those who have been the most vocal about ending the Bobby Hauck era at UNLV (1-3). One win does not a season save, they say, especially when the three losses have been at home to a lower-division school and arguably two of the worst BCS-affiliated teams this season (anyone who wanted to speak up for previously undefeated Minnesota lost that point when the Gophers got run over today by a bad Iowa team).
Today’s game at Utah State (1-3) may not answer the progress question definitively, but it will certainly provide a clearer picture than we’ve had thus far this season. This is the case for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that Utah State is the best team on UNLV’s schedule to date. With a top-15 defense and weapons at every skill position on offense, the Aggies are loaded. Last week they went to Colorado State, a Mountain West team that may be of comparable talent level to the Rebels, and won by 12. It would have been more if the Rams hadn’t scored a late touchdown to make the score look more respectable.
Now the Aggies get to come back to Logan for homecoming. The team and the crowd will be dressed in all white, which is mostly irrelevant, but I find it funny that this is touted as the first-ever organized color game at Romney Stadium.
UNLV has struggled everywhere on the road, let alone a hostile environment against a more talented team. So with all of that in mind, what would constitute progress in today’s game?
Obviously a victory would take care of it. Short of that, having a chance to win in the fourth quarter would be a positive step. The point spread has UNLV as 20.5-point underdogs as of Saturday morning, so finishing not only within that but closer than two touchdowns would be reason for optimism.
It’s not like one win was ever going to suddenly propel this team to a bowl game, but another positive sign would be if the Rebels, or at least the offense, could pick up where they left off and come out strong in the first half. This is freshman quarterback Nick Sherry’s first road game, and it also happens to be against the best defense he has seen thus far and may go against all year. A strong game from him could go a long way to convincing people that Hauck has some of the right pieces in place moving forward.
Basically, unless you think UNLV is going to pull off the upset today, this game is about searching for the small victories or improvements that may lead to a road victory later in the year (most likely at San Diego State or at Hawaii). The Rebels finally made progress on the scoreboard last week, but it’s unlikely to duplicate that today.
Bern’s prediction: The Aggies have an advantage at nearly every position on the field, and it’s just too much for me to believe the Rebels will overcome that for a victory. Certainly they could cover, especially with a garbage score in the fourth quarter, but I don’t see it. UNLV’s best chance is to keep the game low-scoring and ugly, but it may just be the latter. Utah State 42, UNLV 20.