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Rebels Football:

Blog: UNLV makes big plays late and wins back the Fremont Cannon

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Jeff Mulvihill Jr. / instaimage

UNLV’s Ryan McAleenan (56) celebrates his pick six during the Mountain West game between the UNLV Rebels and the UNR Wolfpack at Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nevada.

Updated Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 | 9:57 p.m.

UNLV 23, UNR 17

Game over

UNLV dominated and then had to survive, but they don't care how it comes. All that matters is the Fremont Cannon is going back to Las Vegas and looking at a new coat of paint after UNLV's 23-17 victory at Mackay Stadium.

The Rebels completely controlled the first half but near the end of the first half Blake Decker went out with an injury and the offense couldn't get much going the rest of the way. But the defense was good enough, including coming up with Ryan McAleenan's 52-yard interception return for a touchdown, and when they need it most UNLV got a stop, just like two years ago.

The Rebels' season outlook will depend on what happens at quarterback but that matters not tonight. The biggest goal of the year has been achieved and it's wasn't fluky or lucky. The Rebels won.

Check lasvegassun.com later tonight for a full report from the Rebels' victory.

The Rebel Room

A Rivalry to Remember?

Betting boards are giving UNLV a much better chance this week at UNR after the Rebels' 80-8 victory against Idaho State, and Sun sports editor Ray Brewer tells reporters Case Keefer and Taylor Bern that UNLV coach Tony Sanchez will be riding the Fremont Cannon back to Vegas.

A little hate is a good thing.

A rivalry doesn’t feel like one if everyone gets along, so while I think we all understand where UNR coach Brian Polian was coming from in asking Wolf Pack fans to leave the FUNLV shirts at home and to watch their language, voluminous obscenities are often the result of passion. And when it comes to the Battle for the Fremont Cannon there’s a lot of passion on both sides.

The 41st meeting of in-state rivals UNLV and UNR kicks off at 4:05 p.m. today at a likely sold-out Mackay Stadium. The game will stream online and through compatible devices via the Mountain West Network and Campus Insiders.

Rebels coach Tony Sanchez, who’s making his debut in the rivalry today, spoke excitedly Tuesday about the animosity that’s existed in different variations between the two sides ever since Nevada Southern separated itself from UNR in 1965 and soon became UNLV. Sanchez doesn’t want to get hit with anything thrown from the stands, like former coach John Robinson did in 2003, but after watching the games for years as Bishop Gorman High’s coach and diving into the history since taking the job he’s not trying to calm anyone down.

“I think rivalries are things that are naturally created over years and years,” he said, “sometimes good, sometimes bad relationships.”

This rivalry is built on a foundation of mutual disrespect. UNLV treats UNR like the little brother despite getting its start as UNR’s Southern Division, and while Wolf Packs fans are the more likely group to bring up the other side unprovoked throughout the year, once the mud is slinging around the Rebels are right there in the pit tossing some back.

I get parents not wanting F-bombs and worse thrown around while enjoying a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon today in Reno, but that’s the byproduct of decades of mostly healthy animosity. Tell them to tone it down or take it somewhere else, but no one should be trying to remove blue’s venom towards red and vice versa today.

The heaviest and most expensive (and arguably best) trophy in college football is on the line today. A little hate could go a long way towards winning it.

Bern’s prediction: I’ve seen a lot of folks predicting a UNLV victory and in the preseason I was looking at the same thing. The Rebels have a legit chance today and I kind of want to pick them too but I’m going with the home team in a close one. UNR 34, UNLV 28

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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