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Was the clock operator to blame? UNLV loses at Hawaii on last play

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Eugene Tanner / AP

UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, left, talks with running back Keith Whitely (28) during a timeout in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Hawaii, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Honolulu.

UNLV Football at Hawaii

UNLV wide receiver Marcus Sullivan (18) is tackled by Hawaii defensive back Trayvon Henderson (39) after Sullivan caught a pass in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Honolulu. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

No Sleep til Brooklyn

Las Vegas Sun sports writers Ray Brewer and Taylor Bern go over UNLV's 2-0 start to the basketball season while looking forward to this week's New York trip, plus what's next for the woeful football team.

The UNLV football team has suffered more than its share of tough-to-stomach defeats in recent years.

Today at Hawaii, the Rebels found another heart-breaking way to lose.

UNLV surrendered a touchdown on the game’s last play when Hawaii’s Marcus Kemp caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ikaika Woolsey, sending the Rebels to a controversial 37-35 defeat.

Some question if there was enough time for Hawaii to run the last play.

With five seconds remaining and Hawaii at the UNLV 20-yard line, Woolsey fired an incomplete pass down the middle of the field. But the clock operator stopped play with one second remaining, allowing Hawaii to run one final play.

That play went for a touchdown to erase one of UNLV best performances of the season, leaving players and coaches shocked and in anger on the sideline looking for answers.

“The word bitter describes it pretty well,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said during his postgame radio interview.

The Rebels took a 35-31 lead with 15 seconds remaining on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Blake Decker to Taylor Barnhill. But they were flagged for two unsportsmanlike penalties for celebrating the touchdown, helping Hawaii get possession at the UNLV 43 with just enough time to win the game.

While the clock operator can be questioned for the end of the game, UNLV is equally to blame for the penalties.

“That killed us. That was the difference of the game,” Hauck said. “Bad on us for being exuberant. I am pretty disappointed by it.”

UNLV led 14-0 in the first quarter on touchdown runs from quarterback Jared Lebowitz and running back Shaquille Murray-Lawrence. But Hawaii scored 24 unanswered points to take a 24-14 lead and seemed well on its way to handing UNLV a double-digit loss.

The UNLV offense rallied in the fourth when Decker replaced Lebowitz at quarterback, completing 10 of 13 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns.

UNLV fell to 2-10 overall. It closes the season at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday against UNR in the Fremont Cannon game at Sam Boyd Stadium.

“Our guys played awfully hard. They had a lot of fight in them,” Hauck said.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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