UNR Rallies Past Rebels To Keep Cannon
Oct. 13, 2012
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Nevada, Reno's Stefphon Jefferson rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns to help the Wolf Pack overcome a 17-point halftime deficit and defeat UNLV 42-37 Saturday.
Starting in place of Cody Fajardo, who left last week's game against Wyoming with back spasms, redshirt sophomore quarterback Devin Combs threw for two touchdowns, while rushing for 111 yards and another score.
"UNLV played terrific, we knew they would," Nevada coach Chris Ault said. "I thought our guys, that second half, defensively shut them down."
The Wolf Pack (6-1, 3-0 Mountain West) outscored the Rebels (1-6, 1-1) in the second half 28-6. UNLV, which hosted a day game for only the second time since 2006, was outgained in the second half 283 yards to 111.
"We didn't play with any emotion (in the first half), no energy; I don't know why," Ault said. "In a game like this, you play with energy when you get off the bus. We didn't; we did in the second half, and that was the difference-maker."
Trailing 31-21 late in the third quarter, the Wolf Pack was certainly energized by its biggest break of the game when UNLV's Sidney Hodge was called for pass interference after intercepting the ball at the Rebels 2.
"That was a critical and game-changing call," UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. "We would have had the ball with a big lead; instead they've got it coming in."
Jefferson eventually scored on a 3-yard run with 12:58 left in the game to cut Nevada's deficit to 31-28.
"Patience is a big thing," Jefferson said. "You have to wait for holes to open up and things to happen."
Moments later, UNLV quarterback Nick Sherry committed his first critical mistake of the game, as linebacker Dray Bell intercepted him at the Rebels 34. Five plays later, Combs took it in from the 7 to give Nevada its first lead of the game, 35-31.
"We knew we had to stick together," Combs said. "On offense, running the ball is always a priority. Up front we did great."
UNLV struck first, scoring on the game's opening drive as the Rebels went 68 yards in 10 plays, culminating in Tim Cornett's 8-yard run. After stopping Nevada, Reno on a 4th and 3 at the 23 on its first drive of the game, the Rebels drove 76 yards, extending their lead to 14-0 as Bradley Randle ran 32 yards down the left sideline with 4:28 left in the first.
Ten plays later, UNLV made it 21-0 when Nick Sherry rushed two yards for his first career rushing touchdown with 13:33 left in the first half.
Cornett led the ground attack in the first half with 109 yards rushing and a touchdown to guide the Rebels to a 31-14 halftime lead. Cornett finished with 130 yards, marking his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season, while becoming the first Rebel with seven 100-yard rushing games in a 10-game span since Ickey Woods in 1987.
Sherry finished 21 of 35 for 243 yards passing, with a touchdown and an interception.
Nevada, Reno which came into the game as one of just two teams in the nation averaging more than 275 yards per game in both rushing and passing, didn't get its first points until the 5:55 mark of the second quarter, when Jefferson went into the end zone untouched on 4th and 1.
The win extended UNR's winning streak against its in-state rival to eight straight games, as the two meet annually in the "Battle for the Fremont Cannon," the largest trophy in college football. It marked the first time the two played as conference opponents since 1995, the last year the two were in the Big West together. It was only the fifth time the rivals met as conference foes.