Friday, Aug. 31, 2012 | 2 a.m.
- BLOG: Rebels fall to Minnesota in triple overtime, 30-27
- Take 5: Minnesota players and plots to know before Thursday’s game at UNLV
- The three-year itch: The Rebels’ confidence in practice needs to translate to the field in 2012
- Analysis: Importance of UNLV’s opener against Minnesota can’t be overstated
- For UNLV’s Aaron Reed, being an ambassador for UNLV football is a job he takes with pride
- UNLV football’s staff prepares for 2012 season opener with new play-callers
- All UNLV Football Coverage
Tim Cornett staggered out of the locker room, glanced at the ground and winced.
Thirty minutes after Minnesota pulled off a 30-27 victory over UNLV in triple overtime, the junior running back hadn’t finished replaying the game in his head. He tried to figure out what went wrong on a night where so much felt right to the Rebels.
“We were good hanging with them,” Cornett said after rubbing his eyes. “But to me our mindset was to win it, so we feel a little down.”
As expected, Cornett was the Rebels' most productive player in the opener. UNLV coach Bobby Hauck offered the most praise for the defense, but Cornett worked as the force to keep the team competitive with a Big Ten Conference opponent for the entire 3 1/2 hours.
Cornett registered a career-high 127 rushing yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns. He got the yards in a variety of ways — breaking through multiple tacklers, squeezing through a hole or shifting his vision outside to find open field.
“Tim did a nice job,” Hauck said. “I thought he was a warrior out there. He brought that attitude.”
The scariest moment of the night for Rebels fans wasn’t when Minnesota’s Jordan Wettstein lined up for his game-winning 39-yard field goal. That distinction came one overtime earlier when Cornett took a late hit after stepping out of bounds.
He flew into one of the advertising borders on the side of the field and stayed there for a few seconds. Cornett made his way back into the game one play later, but admitted his shoulder was sore.
He planned to get treatment Friday in order to be ready for practice Saturday.
“Nothing too much,” Cornett noted.
That’s a relief for everyone on the Rebels sidelines, because Cornett had already shown much of their success this year will ride on his shoulders.
On this night, he was able to deliver. When Minnesota took a 13-10 lead with 5:40 remaining in regulation, hope felt minimal for a UNLV offense that had fizzled with three three-and-outs in four possessions to start the second half.
Hauck turned to Cornett, who had three straight plays called for him. Cornett gained a combined 42 yards, and earned an extra 15 from another personal foul, to put UNLV in field goal range.
Cornett didn’t touch the ball again that drive, but Nolan Kohorst took advantage of his work for a 35-yard field goal that ultimately prolonged the action.
On the third play of overtime, Cornett broke loose for an 18-yard touchdown.
“They over-pursued,” he said. “That’s why I went to the outside.”
Cornett never got a chance to make an impact in the third overtime. On the second play of UNLV’s drive, Nick Sherry tossed an interception.
Cornett defended his quarterback. He argued it wasn’t Sherry’s fault and planned to console him.
It was the type of statement that comes from a leader, a role Cornett showed he was worthy of holding Friday night.
“We knew what we could come in here and do,” Cornett said. “We just failed to finish.”