Las Vegas Bowl IX
Dec. 22, 2000
The game MVPs were QB Jason Thomas for UNLV (217 yards passing and three touchdowns) and WR Boo Williams for Arkansas (seven catches for 97 yards).
With the 31-14 victory, UNLV moved to 3-0 all-time in bowl games (1984 California Bowl, 1994 Las Vegas Bowl and 2000 Las Vegas Bowl). The Rebels are the only program in college football that is undefeated and untied in bowls with at least two appearances.
UNLV head coach John Robinson moved to 8-1 in bowl games all-time, including a 7-1 record at USC. Robinson is the winningest bowl coach in the history of college football percentage-wise with a minimum of eight games at .889.
At 8-5, UNLV won its most games in one season since going 11-2 in 1984. This was the first time UNLV played 13 games in a season since 1984, and the third time in history along with 1974.
The victory marked the first four-game winning streak for UNLV since the 1984 season when the Rebels won seven straight during the year.
UNLV earned its first-ever victory over a team from the Southeastern Conference. The Rebels lost to Tennesse in 1996 and Ole Miss earlier this season.
UNLV went a perfect 6-0 at home this season, including the bowl game, ending perfect at Sam Boyd Stadium for the first time since 1977.
UNLV backup quarterback Jason Vaughan was suspended because of a violation of team rules. The senior did not dress for the game.
UNLV's second-quarter scoring pass to Nate Turner marked the first touchdown given up by the Arkansas defense in the last 11 quarters.
UNLV senior WR Nate Turner tied the Las Vegas Bowl record for touchdown receptions with two in the first half. He tied Terrance McMillan of Central Michigan (1994), Damond Wilkins of UNR (1996), Pat Johnson of Oregon (1997) and Tony Hartley of Oregon (1997). Turner had eight catches for 126 in the first half alone and did not get another catch in the second half. Both the catches and yards were UNLV bowl records.
Nate Turner's 128 yards marked his fourth 100-yard career game, which stands 13th in school history. Turner caught at least two balls in all 24 games of his two-year Rebel career.
Jason Sonnenburg of Las Vegas kicked a 40-yard field goal during a halftime promotion to win a $10,000 prize.
Jason Thomas' 54-yard touchdown throw to Troy Mason in the fourth quarter was the second-longest in Las Vegas Bowl history. The record is the 69-yard toss from Oregon's Akili Smith to Pat Johnson vs. Air Force in 1997.
Paid attendance was 29,113 paid and 25,868 in-house. Both set Las Vegas Bowl records.
Jason Thomas' three touchdown passes tied him for most in Las Vegas Bowl history: Anthony Calvillo of Utah State vs. Ball State in 1993 and Jason Maas of Oregon vs. Air Force in 1997. Thomas also set the UNLV bowl record.
Thomas' 12-for-17 passing set a Las Vegas Bowl record for completion percentage at .706, besting Anthony Calvillo's 25-of-39 passing day for Utah State in 1993 (.641).
Troy Mason set the Las Vegas Bowl record for both most punt returns with five, besting Pat Johnson of Oregon (1997) and Mace Freeman of Toledo (1995) who had four each, and punt return yardage with 51 (Pat Johnson had 49).
ARKANSAS POST-GAME QUOTES
Razorback Head Coach Houston Nutt
"We've had a great group of seniors and I'm not going to let this loss (ruin it)."
Asked about Jason Thomas: "He made some great plays."
Asked if UNLV was better than expected: "They played extremely well."
"I felt real good until the end of the third quarter. We missed that field goal and it took the air out of us. If we take the lead, our defense plays with a different mindset."
"On the running game in the second half: "hey had a couple different mis-directions and really creased us."
On defense in the second half: "The biggest thing they did was double Boo (Williams)."
"We've been getting turnovers on the ground, so (not capitalizing tonight) hurt, especially in a game like this."
"We knew they were a good team. They scored 40 on Ole Miss, so we knew they were a good team.
"Anytime you lose it hurts ... it's a sick feeling."
Arkansas MVP WR Boo Williams
"It's just one of those things that happen. In the second half everything went south, everything just went wrong for us. When other teams make mistakes you have to capitalize."
"We never underestimate a team. They had a great defensive scheme and in the second half things just didn't go our way."
"They played a lot harder than they played other teams on film. They had a lot of emotion with their home crowd behind them."
"When they came out in the second half they ran the ball real well. When they get in the open field they're very dangerous backs."
"They just dominated us in the second half and played a great game."
UNLV POST-GAME QUOTES
Rebel Head Coach John Robinson
On the win: "All of this is about these guys, college football is about these guys. This is particularly gratifying because our guys were at their best. We have 18 seniors that deserve this (MVP) trophy."
"Bowl games are not easy. We played our best game and were really dominating in the game. These are great players. Jason Thomas is on his way to being one of the great players. Nate Turner is one of the most competitive receivers I've ever been around. He competes, he makes plays and he does things that are just phenomenal."
On the offensive line: "The offensive line deserves a lot of credit. We thought we would have a hard time running the ball because of their 8-man front, but we wound up rushing for almost 300 yards. We got it going by throwing the ball early in the game."
On the turnaround of the UNLV program: "Good players make the difference. Guys that think they are winners and are here to prove it. In football the best athletes don't always win, it's the best team. They've become a team and they deserve this success."
UNLV MVP QB Jason Thomas
On the season: "We're undefeated at home. We can't wait to continue it next year and we are looking forward to bigger and better things. This is just the beginning for us."
On the long touchdown pass: "Troy Mason got around his guy and I threw the ball as far as I could and it was a touchdown. It was a great play."
On throwing the long ball: "We wanted to make an effort to go down field. We knew their corners played off the ball and looked at the quarterback a lot. We wanted to take advantage of that."
On the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty: "I just made a stupid play. I'm young and I'm going to make mistakes. I let my emotions take control over me. I was out of bounds and a guy chucked me and I did something I shouldn't have done. I apologized to the coach but I couldn't find the player after the game. It was very immature of me and I admit it."