No. 22 Utah Doubles Up Rebels
Sept. 6, 2008
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Brian Johnson threw for two touchdowns and scored on a 56-yard run as No. 22 Utah celebrated its return to the national rankings with a 42-21 win over UNLV on Saturday.
The Utes (2-0) scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and pulled away after a shaky first half, holding the Rebels (1-1) to 11 yards of offense in the third period and 83 total yards in the second half.
UNLV's Frank Summers ran for 82 yards in the first half, but the Utes held him in the second and he finished with 87 yards on 23 carries.
The Rebels fell to 2-12 against Utah and have never won consecutive games in the series.
Johnson finished 15-for-24 for 183 yards despite completing just one of his first five passes. Running back Matt Asiata added a 32-yard touchdown pass and ran for his first career TD.
The Utes were playing their first game as a ranked team since completing a perfect 2004 season in the Fiesta Bowl, but looked little like the original BCS Busters of four years ago in the first half as UNLV took leads of 7-0 and 14-7. But Matt Asiata tied it on a 2-yard run with 52 seconds left in the second quarter, then the Utes dominated after halftime.
Omar Clayton was 19-for-30 for 159 yards and a touchdown and Summers, who ran for 190 yards against the Utes last year, scored twice.
David Reed opened the second half with a 49-yard kickoff return, which only UNLV kicker Ben Jaekle saved from being a touchdown, and the Utes scored on a 32-yard pass from Johnson to Freddie Brown. Utah got the ball back four plays later and John Peel returned a punt 25 yards to the UNLV 26-yard line, setting up a 15-yard touchdown run by Reed on a reverse to give Utah a 28-14 lead with 8:45 left in the third.
The Utes opened their third drive of the period at their own 41 and went the distance again, scoring on Johnson's 8-yard pass to Colt Sampson with 3:20 left in the quarter.
Utah gained only 28 yards in the second half of a 25-23 win at Michigan in the season opener the week before, but didn't get conservative with a big lead this time. Already up 34-14, Asiata lined up at quarterback early in the fourth and threw a perfect pass to Jereme Brooks for a 32-yard touchdown.
Johnson took a broken play up the middle for his longest career run and tied the game at 7-7 with 8:08 left in the half. Rusty Worthen nearly had the sack for UNLV, but Johnson broke free of the tackle and had nobody in between him and the end zone.