Rebels Record Rally Topples Central Michigan
Sept. 14, 2013
By W.G. Ramirez, special to UNLVRebels.com
LAS VEGAS - The UNLV Rebels scored 31 unanswered points to overcome a 21-point deficit Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium to defeat Central Michigan, 31-21. The victory was the first of the season for the Rebels, who are now 1-2.
"We talked all week long about starting fast, and obviously that shows you what pregame talks by coaches are worth," coach Bobby Hauck said. "We feel good about coming from behind by 21 points. Our defense was special after a slow start."
At the 6:30 mark of the second quarter, Central Michigan had outgained the Rebels 233-33 in total yards, while taking its 21-0 lead. From that point, the Rebels outgained the Chippewas 378-145 in total yards, and 31-0 on the scoreboard.
Quarterback Caleb Herring replaced Nick Sherry on the team's third possession of the game, and seized control of the offense to complete 24 of 28 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns to lead the charge.
"Caleb was playing well, he was accurate," Hauck said. "When Caleb is on target and accurate and seeing things, he does a really nice job."
Herring's .857 completion percentage broke Randall Cunningham's record from 1974, when he posted a .808 completion percentage against Idaho State.
"He played very well," Central Michigan coach Dan Enos said. "They started running the ball, too. That was the big thing. They got the running game going and that made the passing game open up and we missed a bunch of tackles. We didn't get off the field on third down."
The Rebels' balanced attack finished with 122 yards rushing and 289 passing yards.
"I felt really comfortable out there because of the quality of reps we were getting in practice," Herring said. "I just saw he (Devante Davis) was in a zone, that he was making plays. I just decided to feed him."
Herring's second touchdown pass to Davis, a 42-yard play, lifted the Rebels into a tie at 21 with 2:58 left in the third. Nolan Kohorst's 34-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter gave UNLV the lead, and Herring's 12-yard strike to Davis extended the advantage to the final 10-point margin with 6:40 remaining.
In overcoming the 21-0 first-half deficit, the Rebels tied an all-time record for biggest comeback, with a 1976 rally against Nebraska-Omaha.
"They made plays and we didn't, end of the story," Enos said. "In the first half we made plays. In the second half, we had as many opportunities to make plays, but we didn't make them and they did."
Freshman Cooper Rush, making his first start for the Chippewas (1-2), completed 23 of 46 pass attempts, one touchdown and two interceptions. Running back Saylor Lavallii rushed for 65 yards and scored twice.