Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013 | 12:36 a.m.
The low points were so plentiful that nearly every UNLV fan who entered Sam Boyd Stadium for the Rebels’ home opener Saturday night could leave shaking his or her head about a different moment.
How about the punt team lining up with 10 players, minus a punter? Maybe the botched extra point after UNLV’s only first-half score? Or the pick six? No, the other one.
None of those even factored into the outcome of the Rebels’ 58-13 collapse against Arizona (2-0). The first two were moments so surreal you could only laugh to keep from yelling while the interception returns put the Wildcats up by 32 and 39, respectively, long after the damage was done.
All of them occurred in the first half, which could go down as the worst 30 minutes of the Bobby Hauck era.
“Congratulations to Arizona for coming in and beating the hell out of us,” Hauck said.
Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, who sat out the first quarter, ran for a 58-yard touchdown on his first touch and finished the first half with 110 yards. As a team the Rebels (0-2) ran for only 69 yards in the half, and near the end of the third quarter that number actually dropped to 61.
“Ka’Deem is a player and everybody knows it,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He runs hungry.”
Rebels quarterback Nick Sherry couldn’t counteract that with much positive. UNLV’s only score in the first 51 minutes came on the first play of the second quarter when Devante Davis took a short Sherry pass 69 yards into the end zone. Besides that Sherry went 5-of-21 for 42 yards with a fumble and two interceptions, the latter two returned for scores. He sat out the entire second half.
Hauck said he considered moving Sherry to the bench with three minutes left in the first quarter, when the sophomore was 2-for-10 with only the fumble on his record. Things got worse from there and when asked who his starting quarterback would be at Monday’s practice, Hauck didn’t have an answer.
“We’ve got to meet all day (Sunday) to figure that one out,” he said.
As double digit underdogs in both of its first two games, few expected UNLV to be anything other than 0-2 at this point. The problem for people is how they got here.
Last week was a 28-point loss but there were positives to point to. After all, UNLV only trailed Minnesota by three at halftime. This was something different.
Even as the line moved up to plus-14 at kickoff — the Rebels were 10-point underdogs on Monday — this level of beatdown seemed unlikely. On the road? Sure, but at home lately UNLV has done a good job keeping things at least within shouting distance.
This is the worst home loss since 1996 and the third worst in program history. Only a 65-17 loss to Air Force and a 69-0 drubbing by Houston in 1989 were more lopsided.
Next week UNLV hosts Central Michigan. That was the first game that many had pegged for a Rebels victory, though that crowd likely shrunk along with the announced group of 26,950 on Saturday night making an early trip through the exits.
What did they think about on the way out? Maybe about how strange it is that almost every UNLV punt is nearly blocked or how unfortunate it is that the only player fooled by the Rebels’ double pass from Taylor Barnhill was the intended receiver.
And that’s just the inconsequential stuff. There’s also Carey’s 10.7 yards per carry or the fact the Rebels, against all odds, nearly matched last week’s total with two more returned touchdowns. You can be certain none of those Rebels fans walked out with any positive thoughts.
“We’ve got to flush this game and move on to the next one because there are no positives,” Hauck said.
Well, perhaps one.
“The positive,” he considered, “is it’s over.”
CORRECTION: This story was fixed to reflect Arizona's accurate number of returned touchdowns. | (September 8, 2013)