Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2021

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UNLV Football:

Instant analysis: What goes around, comes around

UNLV vs. Hawaii

Sam Morris

UNLV quarterback Mike Clausen is congratulated after scoring against Hawaii during the first half of their game on Saturday.

UNLV vs. Hawaii

Omar Clayton hit Phillip Payne for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds left in the game as UNLV beat Hawaii 34-33 Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

UNLV vs. Hawaii

UNLV players celebrate their 34-33 defeat of Hawaii. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

Hawaii Postgame

Ryan Greene and Rob Miech break down the circus that was UNLV's 34-33 victory over Hawaii on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium, take a look at how the win resurrects the Rebels following the heartbreak of a week ago and also take a look ahead to next week's trip to Wyoming.

Next game

  • Opponent: Wyoming
  • Date: Sept. 26, 12 p.m. PST
  • Where: Laramie, Wyo.
  • TV: None
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM

That's entertainment.

That's Omar Clayton to Phillip Payne in the corner of the end zone.

That's a game-winning touchdown.

After losing one they could have won in the closing seconds last week against Oregon State, the Rebels won one they could have lost in the closing seconds Saturday night against Hawaii. They didn't, thanks to Clayton and Payne, who reprised their alley-oop heroics of last season from 15 yards out with 36 seconds remaining.

UNLV 34, Hawaii 33. The excitement continues, only this time a game against a quality opponent ends with UNLV on top.

Stop the presses. The Rebels close the deal. They finally win a close one.

The turn-the-corner season continues. UNLV is 2-1 heading into its Mountain West opener at Wyoming next week.

Somebody alert the New Mexico Bowl scouts: The Rebels are right where they should be.

Other instant observations, as they developed tonight:

• The Rebels were fortunate only to be trailing 10-7 after a first quarter in which Hawaii dominated and they played poorly. UNLV was whistled for two personal fouls and another needless penalty when coach Mike Sanford put two quarterbacks into the game at the same time and one (Clayton) didn't know how or where to line up. That was just in the first 4 1/2 minutes. During the final 11 1/2 minutes, UNLV didn't tackle or defend the pass very well. Hawaii also made a huge gaffe — kicker Scott Enos was still stepping off his sideway steps when the ball was snapped, throwing off the timing on his second field-goal attempt.

• The first half was not Omar Clayton's finest as the Rebels' quarterback. He threw into double coverage and was intercepted; he threw into triple coverage and was intercepted. Greg Alexander, the Hawaii quarterback, did not have that problem. He passed for 341 yards in the first half, picking apart UNLV's single coverage.

• Where was the Rebels' pass rush? Alexander attempted 34 passes in the first half. UNLV did not get to him once. The Rebels did better in the second half, sacking Alexander twice. Gotta love those halftime adjustments.

• Rebels' opening drive of the second half: 15 plays, nine minutes ... no points. Ouch! Kyle Watson picked the wrong time to bounce a kick off the upright.

• Clayton was excellent in the second half. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns and was not intercepted.

• UNLV's effort in five words or fewer: What goes around, comes around.

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