Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 | 2 a.m.
I could probably have written at least three stories breaking down all of the staggering stats in UNLV’s streak-breaking 56-42 victory at New Mexico on Saturday night. And that would just cover the first half.
Since none of us probably needs to spend that much time marveling at it again, I’ve tried to pick out a few of my favorites that highlight both UNLV’s accomplishments and the absurdity of those first 30 minutes. Figures specifically related to the streaks — both the losing one in the rear view and the winning one the Rebels will try to build on Oct. 12 against Hawaii — will come later this week.
So, here we go:
1 — First-half punt. That came from UNLV’s Logan Yunker who had an excellent day with three punts for an average of 51.7 yards per kick and two touchbacks out of four kickoffs. New Mexico would punt three times in the second half.
This was the first time Yunker, a walk-on transfer from UNR and an Arbor View High grad, shared kickoff duties with Green Valley High grad Nolan Kohorst. Putting that all on one guy probably would have been exhausting as the local duo combined for nine kickoffs.
2:33 — Average time of possession over the 10 combined first-half scoring drives.
Toss out the outliers — Marcus Sullivan’s 10-second touchdown and New Mexico’s 7:54 drive — and that goes down to just a little more than two minutes per touchdown. That first half was an absolute whirlwind and drew several laughs from the press box at the absurdity of what was taking place.
It’s certainly not going to be a tape shown to teach anyone about defense. Over the entire game, the teams combined to reach the red zone eight times and scored touchdowns every time.
24-of-29 — Senior quarterback Caleb Herring’s passing total excluding two third-quarter drives.
On UNLV’s final two drives of the third quarter, with the game tied at 42, Herring threw five straight incompletions. That was half of his total for the game. All told, he went 24-of-34 for 293 yards and four touchdowns.
I’m not sure exactly what to take from this, but I do find it interesting that Herring’s struggles were essentially all clustered together and lasted only 1:30 of game time. If fans needed another reason to feel confident in UNLV’s starting quarterback, I’d point to that.
202 — Rushing yards senior running back Tim Cornett needs to tie for first all-time at UNLV. He trails only Mike Thomas (3,149 yards).
This was a huge game for Cornett both in terms of what he did on the field and where it put him in the record books. After he registered eight 100-yard rushing games last season, this was Cornett’s first of the 2013 season. He finished with 179 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.
He was also responsible for hammering in the final nail with a 75-yard touchdown run on UNLV’s first play of its last meaningful drive. That lone rush nearly equaled his per-game average coming into the game (79.8).
“After that score I kept yelling, ‘I’m back. I’m back,’” Cornett said.
The performance also moved Cornett to second on UNLV's all-time rushing touchdown list — he’s 10 behind Thomas — and fourth in all-purpose yardage. He’s about 1,000 yards behind Henry Bailey.
400 — New Mexico’s first-half rushing yards. You certainly remember this figure, but I just wanted to take another moment to acknowledge how crazy that was.
The Lobos averaged 11.1 yards per carry and scored all five of their first-half touchdowns on the ground. All that rushing gave New Mexico a better than 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession (20:36 to 9:24)*.
*Also absurd, UNLV scored 35 points while controlling the ball for less than 10 minutes.
That New Mexico didn’t set a new school rushing record, and in fact finished with only 497 rushing yards, is a credit to UNLV’s defensive adjustments.