Rebels football:

Blog: UNLV paints the cannon red in 27-22 victory against UNR

The Rebels snapped an eight-game losing streak agianst their in-state rival in an exciting finish

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV punter Logan Yunker, a Las Vegas native who transferred after a year at UNR, kisses the Fremont Cannon after the Rebels defeated UNR 27-22 Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 at Mackay Stadium in Reno.

Updated Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 | 6:48 p.m.

UNLV vs. UNR 2013

UNLV lineman Brian Roth celebrates the Rebels 27-22 victory over UNR Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 at Mackay Stadium in Reno. Launch slideshow »

UNLV 27, UNR 22

Game over

After eight long years, the cannon will be red. UNLV ended UNR's streak with an up-and-down game that saw the Rebels make the late plays in order to win.

Devante Davis scored the decisive touchdown with less than five minutes remaining and the Wolf Pack came up short on a final fourth down attempt. That left the Rebels to assume victory formation and celebrate in the locker room with the Fremont Cannon.

UNLV is now 5-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play. The Rebels are now one victory away from their first bowl game since 2000.

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

UNLV 27, UNR 22

3:00 remaining in the fourth quarter

This game is going to come down to whether or not UNLV's defense can get a stop. Not sure if that makes UNLV or UNR fans excited, but that's where we're at.

After UNR's score, the Rebels punted to the Wolf Pack inside their own 15-yard line. That's where UNR has to go from in order to keep the cannon.

UNLV 27, UNR 16

5:54 remaining in the fourth quarter

After going quite for a long stretch, UNLV remembered it has Devante Davis on the roster. Good things generally happen when you go his way, like an 11-yard score that puts the Rebels in control of this game.

Davis was getting pushed around on a fade pattern but still was able to fight off the defender and catch the go-ahead score. It capped a long UNLV drive that did two crucial things: chewed up clock and gave UNLV the lead.

UNLV's two-point conversion failed but 11 points is still a nice cushion right now. The defense has a chance to close it out and win the Fremont Cannon for the first time in the last nine meetings.

UNLV 21, UNR 16

11:46 remaining in the fourth quarter

Tim Cornett broke through one defender for a first down and a couple more for a touchdown that put UNLV back ahead 21-16 with 11:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The short drive was set up by Frank Crawford's fumble recovery after what would have been UNR's first first down of the second half. Neither offense has been very good in the second half but the Wolf Pack's mistakes led to UNLV points, which could turn out to define this game.

UNR 16, UNLV 14

End of the third quarter

Nolan Kohorst missed a 35-yard field goal with less than a minute left in the third quarter. That was as close as either team got to the end zone in a quick third quarter.

The Rebels and Wolf Pack basically exchanged three-and-outs for most of the quarter. When the Rebels did finally put together a drive, including a fourth-and-1 conversion on their own half of the field and a couple of nice third-down conversions, they couldn't finish the job. The snap on Kohorst's attempt was high and he pulled it to the left.

That was as uneventful a quarter as UNLV has had when the score still mattered. It doesn't really speak well of either team, who both look like they're struggling with consistency, among other things.

UNR 16, UNLV 14

Halftime

UNLV very easily could have gone into halftime with a lead. Instead UNR marched down for a third field goal, complete with a 16-14 lead, and the Rebels have mostly themselves to blame.

The Rebels took the lead with about 4:15 remaining and then, after a defensive stop, got the ball back at its own 34 with about 2:57 remaining. UNLV could have tried to score or tried to run out the clock. The Rebels elected for neither.

UNLV ran on its first two plays, forcing UNR to use its final timeout. Then on third and 11 with 1:42 on the clock, Caleb Herring threw an incomplete pass. Now, if he completes that and UNLV marches down then Bobby Hauck looks smart. The percentages, though, especially when you consider how often UNLV gives up these scores just before halftime, said to run the ball again in order to take the clock down as low as possible.

Instead the Rebels punted the ball back to UNR with 1:30 remaining and the Wolf Pack promptly marched down for a 42-yard field goal. Making the circumstances even more bizarre, UNLV actually called a timeout on fourth down as UNR's field-goal team ran out on the field.

UNLV likely did that because UNR was probably going to get the kick off and the Rebels wanted the ball back for a last-ditch attempt at points (Nolan Kohorst missed a 49-yard attempt at the buzzer). Of course, if they really wanted to go down for one more score, why not call the plays for something like that with 2:30 remaining?

It was a bizarre sequence but not one that veers too far from what we've seen UNLV do at the end of the first half in other games.

UNLV 14, UNR 13

4:18 remaining in the second quarter

Well, it didn't take as long as UNLV may have hoped for but the Rebels will take a touchdown anytime they can get one. Devante Davis took an intermediate pass in the middle of the field around the end for a 44-yard touchdown catch.

The Rebels likely wanted that to take a little longer because of their propensity for giving up points right before halftime. Of course, the converse is that with a quick stop the Rebels would get the ball back with plenty of time for their offense.

Those arguments are easier to have in hindsight, so we'll see how UNLV handles the rest of this half.

UNR 13, UNLV 7

5:52 remaining in the second quarter

Kenneth Penny bit on an inside move and UNR receiver Richy Turner beat him for a 61-yard touchdown catch that required little effort after the initial move. Turner, standing all alone 15 yards from the end zone, just had to catch the ball.

UNLV briefly had the momentum after taking a 7-6 lead but a quick offensive drive ended that. UNR's defense is just as beatable as UNLV's so the Rebels obviously could come right back here, but the more important thing may be that the offense chew up some clock. It's getting near the halftime, when UNLV often gives up points, and its defense could use a breather anyways.

UNLV 7, UNR 6

9:56 remaining in the second quarter

Five defenders were in Maika Mataele's general area inside the end zone, but the Rebels receiver was the one who came down with the ball and UNLV's first lead of the game.

Tim Cornett broke through for a big 20-yard run and Devante Davis made a one-handed catch to extend the drive. When Caleb Herring went looking for a first down on third and eight he threw from his front foot and connected with Mataele in the middle of several defenders for a 16-yard score.

UNR 6, UNLV 0

12:55 remaining in the second quarter

UNR narrowly missed out on the game's first touchdown, instead settling for a second field goal and a 6-0 lead.

Brent Zuzo connected from 22 yards after hitting from 40 earlier in the game. The Wolf Pack were about one foot from hauling in a touchdown pass on third and goal from the 5-yard line.

The Rebels' offense has had some OK starts to drives but they have yet to maintain that over a few first downs. Maybe that means for now they ought to just score with a home run play. If so, I doubt it will come from Shaquille Murray-Lawrence, who may be bench-ridden for the foreseeable future after coughing up a costly fumble.

UNR 3, UNLV 0

End of the first quarter

UNR quarterback Cody Fajardo threw his first interception of the season and it mattered not because UNLV gave the ball back on the very next play. That's the most meaningful Rebels play so far.

UNLV's Shaquille Murray-Lawrence and Caleb Herring botched a handoff that handed the ball right back to UNR after Frank Crawford intercepted Fajardo. That play, obviously, was good for UNLV's defense but mostly that unit has been looking bad with missed tackles and difficulties keeping up with the Wolf Pack.

Other than the turnover the offense has been OK. UNLV has a couple of drives that stalled out around midfield. The interception set them up with their best field position of the day but obviously they didn't take advantage.

UNR will start the second quarter inside the 15-yard line so this lead may get bigger, but it's not like UNLV is getting completely outplayed. The Rebels just need to execute a little better, because they've had people in the right positions. At least on offense.

UNR 3, UNLV 0

7:09 remaining in the first quarter

The Wolf Pack draw first blood with a field goal on a drive set up mostly by Brandon Wimberly being able to keep his balance.

Wimberly caught a short pass for UNR, rolled over a pair of UNLV defenders and kept on running for a long gain down the sideline. Brent Zuzo hit a 40-yard field goal a few plays later.

UNLV's first drive ended with a failed conversion but it was able to move the ball pretty well before that. Tim Cornett did start and looks like a full participant, so look for him to build on his two carries for 11 yards on UNLV's next drive.

Cornett dressed and on the field for warmups

50 minutes until kickoff

UNLV senior running back Tim Cornett is dressed and with his teammates going through a light warmup as the Rebels' prepare for their 3 p.m. kickoff at UNR.

Officially listed as doubtful with a leg injury, Cornett has only a bandage on his injured right knee and is moving around seemingly without much difficulty. Last week at Fresno State, Cornett took a helmet hit to his right knee and watched the final quarter from the sideline.

Cornett's availability was the biggest individual question mark entering today's game. A few plays before getting hurt, Cornett became the program's all-time leading rusher. He's by far the best UNLV has at the position and adds a dimension that could go missing if he's unable to play.

Sellout crowd ready for 2013 Battle for the Fremont Cannon

The trash talking started before passengers even boarded the 8:20 a.m. flight this morning from Las Vegas to Reno.

“You’re going up for the game, right?” one passenger said to another. “We’re going to paint the cannon red.”

UNLV fans are confident heading into today’s Battle for the Fremont Cannon at Mackay Stadium, though so were the UNR fans howling on the same flight. Wolf Pack supporters actually outnumbered those in red nearly 3-to-1 on the flight. The sold-out game kicks off at 3 p.m. and will stream online at ESPN3.com.

It’s the first time in quite a while that both teams could make the case that they’re the best team on the field. Despite losing this matchup for eight straight years, the Rebels (4-3, 2-1) know they have their best team of the Bobby Hauck era, and they feel better about this game without Chris Ault on UNR’s sideline.

And although UNR (3-4, 2-2) comes in on a two-game losing streak, the Wolf Pack are confident quarterback Cody Fajardo can score on this UNLV defense. Both sides actually feel they’re going to be able to score today, which makes sense with two defenses giving up more than 36 points per game.

Whether UNLV can follow through on that may depend on the health of senior running back Tim Cornett. The school’s all-time leading rusher is officially listed as doubtful because of a knee injury he suffered last week, but the word coming from Las Vegas sports books this morning was that Cornett would play. The line was still mostly plus-6.5 for UNLV as of noon.

Last year, UNLV looked like it was going to end the streak. This year, the Rebels have a great chance to finish what they started.

Bern’s prediction: This one is difficult to pick for a number of reasons, starting with Cornett’s injury. There’s also the difficulty of gauging just how good these teams really are. UNLV’s four victories aren’t against impressive teams, and UNR’s last victory was by three points against Air Force, which is 0-5 in league play. Although I think the smart play is to stick with the home team, I’m going with the upset and a red cannon. UNLV 31, UNR 27

Season: ATS 4-3, O/U 4-2-1

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

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