Brothers square off at UNLV-Sacramento State game


Justin M. Bowen

Brian Heath of Sacramento St. embraces brother Jason Heath of UNLV after the their two teams faced off Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Sacramento State vs UNLV

UNLV wins its season-opener 38-3 over Sacramento State Saturday night, thanks to Channing Trotter's three touchdowns.

Heath Brothers Face Off-UNLV VS. Sac St.

Friends and family of the Heath brothers: Jason of UNLV, and Brian of Sacramento St. watch the action Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »

UNLV vs. Sacramento State

UNLV cheerleaders and players sing the UNLV fight song after defeating Sacramento State 38-3 Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

Sacramento State Postgame

Ryan Greene and Rob Miech break down UNLV's season-opening 38-3 victory over Sacramento State, paced by a solid defensive showing and three Channing Trotter rushing touchdowns. Plus, the guys take a look at what the win against the Hornets does for the Rebels as they prepare to welcome Oregon State to Sam Boyd Stadium next Saturday night.

Next game

  • Opponent: Oregon State
  • Date: Sept. 12, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
  • TV: CBS College Sports
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM

Brian and Jason Heath executed the plan to perfection Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Brian, a senior tight end for Sacramento State, made sure he and Jason, a redshirt freshman left guard for UNLV, lined up opposite each other for the pre-game handshakes involving both teams.

At midfield, they grabbed each other’s right paws and hugged tightly. Jason slapped Brian’s green helmet with his left hand. Brian slapped Jason’s gray helmet with his left hand.

Thirty rows up in Section 131, Julie and Wilbur Heath sat among a dozen or so family members and battled nerves.

“It’s amazing,” said Julie Heath. “We look at it this way … we’ll win either way. We’re supporting both, because we know players and coaches on both sides.”

The Heaths’ trust in UNLV assistant coach Kris Cinkovich swayed Jason to pick the Rebels over Air Force and UC-Davis.

“You don’t know who to root for,” Wilbur said. “UNLV treated us so well when they recruited Jason. It’s exciting. The first time they played on the same field since Midget football.”

It was about bragging rights forever, Julie said. It’ll be talked about over Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of their days.

Which was written all over Brian’s sullen face about a half hour after UNLV had polished Sacramento State, 38-3.

“I have to go face the music now,” said the oldest of three Heath brothers. “Not looking forward to it. Right now, it definitely hurts. I have to shake it off and move on to next week.

“But it was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We made sure we could make the most of it. But, I mean, I’m sure we’ll just have fun with it the rest of our lives.”

The last time they had a chance to play in the same game, they were teammates. Jason was pulled up from the junior varsity to the Del Oro High varsity for the playoffs in 2005.

He didn’t see any action.

Saturday night, Jason Heath played in UNLV’s final offensive series, a seven-play drive that covered 67 yards for the game’s final points, for his first collegiate action.

“Looking across the sideline and seeing (Brian) and other people I know just hyped me up a little bit,” Jason said. “Knowing he was on the other side made me play better.”

At the end of the first quarter, Brian Heath, mostly a run-blocking tight end, nearly caught his lone pass of the game. But quarterback Jason Smith’s long bullet over the middle was a step too far.

Still, Brian was in the best position to celebrate the Hornets’ lone highlight. On the final play of the first half, Chris Diniz nailed a 44-yard field goal.

Brian Heath, the long snapper, was 10 yards ahead of everyone when he threw both hands up as the ball, against a brisk wind, sailed through the south uprights.

“Going into the half, you have to get excited,” he said. “We were only down 10-3. At the moment, you get fired up. We had scored. But we didn’t end it the way we wanted to.”

The Heaths hail from Penryn, Calif., about 25 miles east of Sacramento. At Del Oro, about 4,000 pack the stands for Friday night football games.

Julie works as a CPA. In his retirement, Wilbur is the director of the Del Oro football operations. That allows him to watch his youngest son, Zachary, develop.

Brian and Jason have been toughening up Zachary, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound sophomore who wears size-15 shoes, in the backyard for years. Jason is 6-3 and 280. Brian is 6-3 and 250.

“It’s funny watching them,” said Wilbur Heath. “Zachary comes in all beaten up and I ask him, ‘You still like football?’ He says, ‘Well … yeah.’ ”

Wilbur and Julie Heath say UNLV and Sac State coaches have promised to recruit Zachary, and that will be fine with his two older brothers.

“He’s doing real well,” Brian Heath said. “Hopefully, he can learn from us, work a little bit harder than us and go somewhere bigger than both of us.”

Jason talks with Zachary almost every night.

“There’s a lot of pressure on him,” Jason said. “He needs to do his own thing, play for himself and not anyone else.”

If that happens, Zachary Heath just might find himself on the same football field as older brother Jason.

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