Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009 | 2:30 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob Miech break down UNLV's last-second 23-21 defeat at the hands of Oregon State, which was similar to several games the Rebels let slip from their grasp just a year ago. The guys look at what went wrong, and whether you can expect Mike Sanford's club to still have its edge next Saturday when Hawaii comes to town ... and beyond.
- UNLV-OSU box score
- OSU quarterback stays calm, orchestrates winning drive
- James and Jacquizz Rodgers power Oregon State
- Notebook: Clayton’s knee injury not believed to be serious
- Instant analysis: Close game with Oregon State something to build on
- NFL rookie Frank Summers back to support UNLV
- UNLV fan photos
- Opponent: Hawaii
- Date: Sept. 19, 8 p.m.
- Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
- TV: The Mtn., Cox ch. 334
- Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM
If the UNLV football team wants to prove that it truly is a different group than the 2008 club that let one fourth quarter collapse snowball into several, here's its golden opportunity.
In actuality, the 23-21 defeat the Rebels suffered at the hands of Oregon State on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium may have been more devastating than anything last year's 5-7 squad endured.
"There's no excuses," senior defensive end/linebacker Jason Beauchamp said. "We lost the game, and the sad thing is that we know how capable we were of beating that team. We know how far we've come. All I can say is they got away with one tonight, and I think they know that they got away with one.
"Not taking anything away from them, they're a good team, but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit."
The Rebels actually shot themselves pretty extensively over the course of the night.
But none of the miscues, turnovers or penalties will prove to be more memorable than a pass interference call in the closing minutes against sophomore cornerback Deante' Purvis.
All night, Oregon State had done what it wanted offensively, with much of its production involving the vaunted Rodgers brothers — sophomore tailback Jacquizz and junior receiver James. The duo combined for 295 yards of offense and two touchdowns off of 45 touches.
But the UNLV defense had finally found a way to stop bending, first stuffing quarterback Sean Canfield on a fourth-and-inches sneak near midfield late in the fourth quarter. That led to the second of two touchdown drives orchestrated by Rebels sophomore backup quarterback Mike Clausen, who replaced junior Omar Clayton.
Clayton sprained his knee following a tough hit from behind earlier in the second half.
After Clausen's spectacular 10-yard fade toss to fellow sophomore Phillip Payne along the right edge of the end zone, the defensive momentum continued to build, with the Rebels holding a slim 21-20 edge.
Oregon State all of a sudden looked frazzled, and was drawing penalty flags as if yellow laundry was going out of fashion, with multiple fouls called for illegal substitutions. On top of that, Beauchamp, who sucked it up to play a good amount of snaps on a still-sore right ankle, blasted Jacquizz Rodgers for a one-yard loss and Canfield for a 10-yard sack on back-to-back plays.
That set up a third-and-26 for the Beavers from their own 15-yard line.
On a blind-side blitz, Rebels nickel back Terrence Lee drilled Canfield as he lofted a pass down the right sideline.
But on a pass that fluttered for awhile before falling to the turf — and may or may not have been catchable, depending on who you ask — interference was called against Purvis, keeping the drive alive rather than forcing Oregon State to go for it on a potential fourth-and-26 deep in its own territory.
"I just made a bad play, wasn't thinking right right there, I didn't get my head around," said Purvis, who gathered himself and faced the media afterwards. "I don't want to criticize the referees. It was just a bad play."
Five Canfield completions later against a scrambling Rebels defense, and OSU's Justin Kahut calmly nailed a 33-yard field goal with seven ticks to play, sealing the Rebels' fate in a fashion several opponents did just one year ago.
"I don't know if it makes it easier," Rebels coach Mike Sanford said when asked if 2008's string of heartbreakers makes this year's team more prepared to bounce back. "In some ways, it might even make it tougher, because we expected to win that game. And we didn't."
Added Clausen: "I don't want to say it's a re-occuring story, but it does feel like last yea. In the end, both sides kind of messed everything up, mistakes here and there, we didn't play to our full potential. I guess you can call it a moral victory if you want to call it that, but we're not really accepting of those right now, because we know we're better than we played tonight."
Avoiding things such as pass interference calls won't be all the Rebels need to correct in preparation for the visiting Warriors, who trounced Washington State earlier in the day up in Pullman, 38-20.
That one incident simply stood out like a sore thumb.
It cast a shadow over a Rodelin Anthony first-half fumble on an attempted hurdle over a trio of Beavers defenders, squelching a promising drive.
It covered up an uncharacteristic Omar Clayton interception in the first quarter.
It also put a temporary glaze over a poorly-executed fourth-and-one run, four penalties totaling 41 yards and, well, several other small things.
"We should have had at least two touchdowns in the first half," said Sanford, whose team trailed 6-0 following a sloppy first half. "Or at least a field goal and a touchdown, or whatever. I don't point to (the interference call). I think in general, we've just got to make plays at the right time and we cannot make mistakes.
"I think turnovers were a key. We have been a team that doesn't turn the ball over. We had some opportunities to get turnovers, and we didn't."
Of course, while the defeat visibly affected the Rebels afterwards, with several players exiting the locker rooms and heading to the team buses with traces of tears still on their faces, there's a reality for the team to face on Sunday.
There are still 10 games to go, and a 1-1 record isn't the end of the world at this point.
But if this one lingers longer than it should, Sanford and his staff have already seen what that snowball effect can produce.
"I'm expecting to watch the tape, get over our mistakes, look over our mistakes, and put this one away and get ready for Hawaii," senior defensive end Malo Taumua said. "If there's a guy hanging his head tomorrow or doubting themselves, I'm gonna say that's just one, lets put it away and get ready for next week."