Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010 | 8 p.m.
UNLV played with a significant talent disadvantage in each of its first five losses this season.
The Rebels played one of the toughest early schedules in the nation, as the five teams that beat them all made bowl games last year, and three of them were ranked. In short, UNLV was up against better teams.
That was not supposed to be the case Saturday afternoon in Fort Collins, Colo. UNLV traveled to play Colorado State in a battle between teams that had equally rough starts to the season with 1-5 records.
The prologue was different, but the story was the same. The Rebels endured another lopsided loss and never looked competitive. Colorado State 43, UNLV 10.
“We went down big in a game that we thought we had a good chance to swipe from them on their homecoming day,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said after the game. “It wasn’t very good by us.”
“Stunned” was the word used by at least one of Hauck’s players to describe the result. That’s certainly how the Rebels looked on the field.
Colorado State freshman quarterback Pete Thomas completed his first seven passes. Three of them went for touchdowns as the Rams built a 34-10 lead before halftime.
Thomas finished 10-for-14 for 233 yards. Colorado State senior running back Leonard Mason rushed 14 times for 121 yards. In total, the Rams recorded 492 yards of offense in the highest scoring game of coach Steve Fairchild’s three-year tenure in Fort Collins.
“From where we are,” Hauck said, “I don’t know how far back one can go.”
The Rebels rushing attack did look serviceable at times. Converted cornerback Deante' Purvis carried the ball 14 times for 85 yards.
Freshman Tim Cornett logged 17 carries for 74 yards and scored UNLV’s only touchdown when he powered it in from three yards away.
But the passing game could never complement the ground attack. Omar Clayton threw for only 114 yards on 15-for-23 passing. Freshman Caleb Herring relieved Clayton in the fourth quarter but promptly lost a fumble on his third play in the game.
“We came into practice and worked hard and did everything we had to do,” Cornett said. “And then for the outcome to be like this after all of that hard work early in the week, I’m kind of mad about it.”
The UNLV special teams provided a couple of the rare positive moments in the loss. Freshman kicker Nolan Kohorst booted a 46-yard field goal, the longest of his career, in the first quarter.
Freshman Eric Tuiloma blocked a punt in the third quarter, but the Rebels could not turn it into points. The special teams had a few gaffes as well, including allowing a 75-yard kickoff return to Colorado State’s Derek Good.
“I don’t think that when we’re out on the field anyone is saying we look like a championship football team,” Hauck said. “That’s not what we look like. But we need to do better than we did today.”
Payne left home again
Questions regarding star junior receiver Phillip Payne's future with the UNLV program will likely drag on for the foreseeable future, as the preseason All-MWC selection was left home for the second straight week.
Payne was originally suspended from the Rebels' 49-10 loss a week ago at West Virginia after he made disparaging remarks about the UNLV program on his Twitter feed.
He practiced all week with the scout team, which made it appear unlikely that he would play against CSU. On the season, the Western High grad has 23 catches for 389 yards and two TDs in five games.