FRESNO, Calif. — Fresno State fans booed anything negative that happened to their football team Saturday night, but they should’ve saved their energy.
They had plenty to cheer for, and the No. 17 Bulldogs showed why they have the Mountain West’s most explosive and exciting offense.
UNLV had no real answers against that offense, and couldn’t do enough to keep up in the 38-14 loss at Bulldog Stadium.
Derek Carr completed 33 of 48 passes for 412 yards and four touchdowns, hitting Davante Adams for all four scores. Adams compiled 221 yards on eight catches.
The Bulldogs outgained the Rebels 641 yards to 294, the most yards UNLV has given up this season. But this also was the first time Fresno State was held to less than 40 points.
“We had no illusions about who they were on offense,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. “You don’t like to give up that number of yards, but there was some decent stuff they did where they flat made plays.”
Fresno State (6-0, 3-0 Mountain West) took first place alone in the West Division. UNLV (4-3, 2-1), which plays at UNR on Saturday, had its four-game winning streak snapped. That was the Rebels’ longest winning streak since 2000.
But history was made for the Rebels roughly midway through the third quarter when Tim Cornett rushed for six yards to become the school’s all-time leading rusher for 3,158 yards. That edged previous record holder Mike Thomas by nine yards, a standard that stood for 39 years.
Cornett, though, took a hard hit on his right knee two plays after setting the record, and then limped off the field. He didn’t return, and there was no immediate word on his condition. Cornett sat on the bench with a large ice pack on his knee.
UNLV’s offense, which had rolled up more than 500 yards in each of its past two games, had trouble with consistency even when Cornett was in the game.
The Rebels, who had been successful in taking shots downfield, mostly dinked and dunked against a Fresno State defense that allowed 33.4 points per game entering this one. Caleb Herring completed 27 of 42 passes, but for only 161 yards.
UNLV’s yardage total was the second lowest of the season. Only the 282-yard output in Week 2 against Arizona was lower.
Fresno State took control quickly, when Carr on the game’s first play threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Adams. The two also would combine on TD catches of 28, 36 and 37 yards.
The Bulldogs surprisingly went into halftime leading just 28-14, even though they outgained the Rebels 404-205. Fresno State would’ve scored more, but had a missed field goal, an interception and a failed opportunity to get into the end zone as the first half came to a close.
UNLV had the chance to get to within a possession, getting the kickoff to open the second half. And then the Rebels appeared in excellent shape when Keith Whitely took advantage of a short kickoff for a 27-yard return to the Bulldogs’ 45.
But the Rebels tried three passing plays, and two were incompletions, forcing a punt.
Hauck called the missed opportunity “huge. We had decent field position the whole second half, much better than the first half, and we didn’t capitalize on it.”
Fresno State took advantage with the 37-yard scoring pass to Adams to end whatever doubts remained.
The Rebels weren’t just beaten, but beaten up.
In addition to Cornett, several Rebels went off, though many returned at less than full speed. Wide receiver Marcus Sullivan spent much of the second half limping around the field.
UNLV can’t afford injuries with a remaining schedule against five opponents nowhere near as talented as Fresno State. If the Rebels have lingering injuries from this game, those will be far more damaging than what appeared on the scoreboard.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.