Published Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 | 4 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 | 8:23 p.m.
UNLV 56, New Mexico 42
As one streak ends another continues. UNLV overcame New Mexico's 400 first-half rushing yards to defeat the Lobos 56-42, snapping a 23-game road losing streak while winning its third consecutive game.
The Rebels (3-2, 1-0) will now enter the bye week with tons of confidence before facing a bad Hawaii team at home.
Ending the streak also opens the possibility of winning on the road later this year at UNR and Air Force. A lot suddenly seems possible and it took an all-out effort to make it happen.
Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' victory.
UNLV 56, New Mexico 42
3:15 remaining in the fourth quarter
UNLV is going to snap its 23-game road losing streak.
Instead of running out the clock after a crucial stop, Tim Cornett put the game away with a 75-yard touchdown on the Rebels' first play of the drive.
The Lobos fans are leaving and the Rebels are finally going to board a plane victorious. It was often ugly but UNLV hung in early and made key plays down the stretch.
UNLV 49, New Mexico 42
4:46 remaining in the fourth quarter
Bobby Hauck couldn't have asked for a much more perfect drive. When UNLV most needed to score and take time off the clock, the Rebels marched 80 yards over 15 plays in 6:49.
In the end it was Caleb Herring to Devante Davis again, the third time they've connected for a touchdown. New Mexico keeps covering him one-on-one and Davis has beat them in that position all night.
That's exactly the performance the Rebels needed. Now it's on the defense to hold the lead. The Lobos have been able to score so quickly that they'll probably stay on the ground, but UNLV has had a little more success against the run in the second half. They're going to need to do it at least once more for a victory.
UNLV 42, New Mexico 42
2:27 remaining in the third quarter
The Lobos have missed on several open passes tonight. This time they finally connect and it ties the game back up at 42.
UNLV actually forced a punt, UNM's first of the game, on the previous drive but Tim Cornett's first career forced fumble sabotaged the Rebels' chance to take a two-score lead.
That fumble may haunt the Rebels tonight. They had all the momentum, a short field and the chance to force New Mexico out of its comfort zone. Instead we're back into a seesaw battle that may be determined by the team with the ball at the end of the game.
UNLV 42, New Mexico 35
9:23 remaining in the third quarter
The Rebels may have slowed down, which is a good thing, but they still find the end zone for their first lead of the game.
UNLV traveled 75 yards in 13 plays over more than five minutes, the second-longest touchdown drive of the game. Devante Davis was huge on the drive, finishing it off with an 11-yard touchdown pass. Caleb Herring is 17-of-21 for 226 yards and three scores.
That was exactly what UNLV needed to start the second half. The more important series, though, is the next one. The Lobos will start inside their own 10-yard line and a defensive stop here would all of a sudden give UNLV the chance for a nice two-score lead.
They have to do it first, though.
UNLV 35, New Mexico 35
UNLV is lucky to be tied, because after giving up 400 first-half rushing yards this could be a lot worse.
The Rebels' offense has obviously been able to score too, but they've gotten some help. UNLV has one punt — the only one in the game — and scored on a short field after Tajh Hasson created a turnover. Without those Lobos errors it would be even worse, because that one turnover is the only non-touchdown-scoring drive New Mexico has had today.
The Lobos are averaging 11.1 yards per carry. 11.1. That's an absurd number for a quarter let alone a half.
The good news is UNLV gets the ball to start the second half. Here's the ideal scenario for UNLV: The Rebels march down and score, then create a turnover and go up 14. The Lobos will eventually have to play a little different if they're behind, although they've been scoring so quickly on the ground maybe that wouldn't be a factor until late in the fourth quarter.
Either way, it seems like the Rebels are going to have to win this with turnovers rather than stops. Unless UNLV suddenly figures out how to stop the triple option the only way the Rebels slow down the Lobos is by taking it away.
UNLV 35, New Mexico 35
1:43 remaining in the second quarter
The only bad thing about UNLV marching down the field to tie the game at 35 is that 1:43 may be too much time on the clock for the Lobos' offense.
I can't wait for halftime so I can attempt to process this insane first half. Tim Cornett scored UNLV's most recent touchdown. And if the Rebels are lucky that will be the last score of the half.
New Mexico 35, UNLV 28
4:36 remaining in the second quarter
New Mexico's rushing total so far: 32 carries, 366 yards (11.4 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. Why they've attempted even a single pass is beyond me.
The Lobos are still carving up the Rebels' defense very, very easily. Cole Gautsche ran for his second touchdown with a simple fake pitch because, once again, the Lobos created a two-on-one situation. As long as the Rebels keep putting their defenders in that spot they're going to keep giving up large chunks of yardage.
UNLV 28, New Mexico 28
12:30 remaining in the second quarter
ALBUQUERQUE — I'm not sure what I'm seeing is real. This game has a cartoonish feeling as it goes over the total of 54 with 42 minutes still to play.
UNLV answered New Mexico's most recent easy drive with one of its own. Devante Davis shed about four tacklers for a 47-yard touchdown catch.
There have been eight scoring drives so far tonight. The longest one — the longest one — took 3:04 off the clock. Three of them have been less than a minute.
We're laughing in the press box. This really doesn't feel real.
New Mexico 28, UNLV 21
14:11 remaining in the second quarter
ALBUQUERQUE — That was a short-lived tie. About 40 seconds after UNLV's score, New Mexico put in another one.
Kasey Carrier broke free down the middle for 68 yards and Cole Gautsche easily faked out UNLV's Peni Vea to get into the end zone. I know that they did prepare for it, but it honestly looks like UNLV's defense has never seen a triple option before.
UNLV 21, New Mexico 21
14:56 remaining in the second quarter
ALBUQUERQUE — You catch your breath at the quarter break? Good, because four seconds into the second quarter UNLV has evened the game.
Taylor Barnhill caught a four-yard touchdown pass that was set up by a taunting penalty against New Mexico. Without that personal foul on third down the Rebels would have had to punt and based on how its offense has been playing it may have taken a 14-point lead.
Again, the pressure is back on UNLV's defense to slow down this Lobos attack. The Rebels can score but the Lobos are scoring more easily and in a more consistent manner. UNLV's points scored won't matter if it can't stop New Mexico.
New Mexico 21, UNLV 14
3:02 remaining in the first quarter
ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico has nearly reached its season average for rushing yards and we're not even through the first quarter.
The Lobos have 222 rushing yards after Carlos Wiggins took a pitch in for his second touchdown. The Rebels' defense looks completely lost against the triple option, which is a terrible sign considering that's all they're going to see today.
On offense the Rebels have scored 14 on only seven plays, but judging from what we've seen New Mexico's performance is much more sustainable.
UNLV 14, New Mexico 14
8:31 remaining in the first quarter
ALBUQUERQUE — We haven't even played nine minutes and this is already UNLV's most exciting game of the season.
Just when the Rebels needed to make a defensive play, Tajh Hasson took the ball from a Lobos receiver and three plays later — one of those a double halfback pass that saw Marcus Sullivan throw a 27-yard pass to Anthony Williams — the game is tied. Tim Cornett crossed the line for a four-yard score that ties him for second-place on the program's career touchdown list.
I'd say this pace can't continue but as I'm typing New Mexico is threatening to score again. I don't have a clue what's going to happen but hey, this has been very entertaining so far.
New Mexico 14, UNLV 7
8:31 remaining in the first quarter
ALBUQUERQUE — One play, 10 seconds and UNLV is on the board.
Marcus Sullivan took a hand-off around the left end and sprinted untouched 69 yards into the end zone. It was a huge answer for a Rebels team suddenly back on its heels.
That certainly helps but now the onus is back on the defense to come up with an answer.
New Mexico 14, UNLV 0
9:00 remaining in the first quarter
ALBUQUERQUE — UNLV linebacker Tim Hasson was essentially the one man back on defense against a two-man fast break, and the Lobos played him perfectly.
Hasson hung in the pitch lane but stayed committed to quarterback Cole Gautsche as long as possible. When Gautsche was five yards downfield and could see daylight, Hasson went for the tackle but left just enough space for a pitch backwards. Carlos Wiggins took that 62 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
UNLV needs an answer immediately, and more importantly the defense must start swarming to the ball. New Mexico is winning the one-on-one matchups.
New Mexico 7, UNLV 0
11:59 remaining in the first quarter
ALBUQUERQUE — Kasey Carrier already has 40 rushing yards, including 22 on a touchdown run that was far too easy for the Lobos.
New Mexico moved down the field 75 yards in less than three minutes without going to the air. The one time the Lobos did attempt a pass the intended receiver was wide open but the pass was far off target.
It's not like the Lobos' attack was a surprise, either. New Mexico does the same thing every game, and on that drive the triple option offense looked far superior to the defense trying to stop it.
Sullivan dressed and warming up for UNLV
ALBUQUERQUE — Junior Marcus Sullivan is dressed for warmups and appears ready to make his 2013 debut today against New Mexico.
Sullivan, who missed the first four games for personal reasons, was practicing more with the first team this week in Las Vegas and all indications is he would play today. Coach Bobby Hauck said all week there was no update on Sullivan's status.
The Cheyenne High grad missed the entire 2011 season because he was academically ineligible, then came back last season with 659 yards and four touchdowns on 55 catches.
His speed on the outside could help take defensive attention from Devante Davis, UNLV's leading receiver.UNLV faces turning point game today against New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE — I can look out of my hotel window and see into University Stadium, the site of today’s UNLV football game against New Mexico.
What happens on that field could define coach Bobby Hauck’s tenure. The Rebels (2-2) come in on their first winning streak since 2008 to play a bad Lobos team (1-2). Not only is second-year coach Bob Davie’s squad not ready for prime time, it’s a similar system and personnel that the Rebels pounded 35-7 at home last season.
A loss today would be a catastrophic setback for a program that feels it’s close to getting to the middle of the road. To do that, they have to win on the road, where the Rebels haven’t flown home victorious since before we’d ever seen Gus Fring’s superlab.*
*Since I’m in Albuquerque during the weekend of the "Breaking Bad" finale, I’m obligated to drop a reference to the show into this live blog.
On paper, the Rebels should absolutely win. Although UNLV gave up a ton of rushing yards to Arizona, the Rebels' two victories last season were both against option offenses. The Rebels’ defense has also helped the team get its turnover margin to plus-three over the past two victories.
If everything goes wrong — and that’s certainly a possibility — then UNLV and Hauck are essentially back to square one. However, if the Rebels win, road games later this year against UNR and Air Force suddenly seem winnable.
Lose to the Lobos, though, and those victories may remain as unattainable as before. The Rebels need to see evidence for their belief that they can go on the road and beat a bad team.
Bern’s prediction: I have said all year that I need to see the Rebels win on the road before I’ll believe they can. Although I think they win today, I’m sticking with that for prediction purposes. And if UNLV does falter and extend its road losing streak to 24, I don't think it's going to be a particularly close game, either. New Mexico 24, UNLV 14
Season: ATS 3-1, O/U 2-1-1