Monday, Sept. 28, 2009 | 2:30 a.m.
The UNLV football team’s disappointment of losing a close game at Wyoming last week could soon be forgotten with a victory against its next opponent.
UNLV will attempt to beat in-state rival Nevada-Reno for the first time in five years Saturday in the Battle for Nevada. The Rebels will travel north to Reno with hopes of bringing home a red Fremont Cannon, which has been painted Wolf Pack blue since 2005.
UNLV (2-2) has yet to capture the cannon in coach Mike Sanford’s tenure, just like it hasn’t won a Mountain West Conference road game — a streak that was pushed to 20 games with a 30-27 setback to Wyoming on Saturday.
UNR (0-3) is still searching for its first win this fall, but the Wolf Pack gave the Missouri Tigers of the Big 12 Conference fits last weekend before losing 31-21. It's unlikely a winless record will mean anything in a rivalry game, though.
Last fall, the Rebels fell, 49-27, as they couldn’t contain Colin Kaepernick. The UNR quarterback had a career day with 240 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while completing 11 of 16 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
UNLV had a 17-7 lead in last year’s contest before Kaepernick had a touchdown run and pass in leading Reno to 28 of the game’s next 31 points. He gave the Wolf Pack a 35-20 lead with a 66-yard scoring run in the opening minute of the third quarter.
UNLV, with quarterback Omar Clayton and receivers Ryan Wolfe (31 catches for 384 yards in four games) and Phillip Payne (247 receiving yards and three touchdowns) leading the way, has been potent on offense this year in averaging 30 points per contest.
But they have surrendered 368 yards per game and have only forced two turnovers, a pair of interceptions. That could equal another monster day for Kaepernick, who started slow this year but rushed for two touchdowns against Missouri.
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].