UNLV seemed like a different football team Saturday night once it grabbed the momentum.
Quarterback Caleb Herring and his offensive teammates began to make plays, and the Rebels’ defense played with an energy not seen since perhaps last November’s 35-7 victory over New Mexico.
That’s all nice for one night, a come-from-behind 31-21 victory over visiting Central Michigan, one that literally goes into the record book.
But what about moving forward? The Rebels (1-2) must carry that same confidence and passion in the days ahead, including Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Western Illinois (2-1) at Sam Boyd Stadium, to make what happened this past weekend truly meaningful.
“Every week’s its own entity,” coach Bobby Hauck said Monday, “and we need to attack this week like we did a week ago and find a way to win on Saturday.”
Herring may or may not start against the Leathernecks. Hauck said he would evaluate Herring and Nick Sherry this week in practice, and likely will make the determination on game day, similar to last week.
“Both of those guys, I think, excel when they’re competing during the week,” Hauck said. “Then I would anticipate both of them will play some.
“I think you have two guys you feel can play, it’s a benefit to the team. That’s been evidenced in the first three weeks. We’ve used both of them. At different times, both have had success.”
Herring made a strong statement the job should be his when he came off the bench against Central Michigan and put in a record-setting performance. He was named the Mountain West offensive player of the week after completing 24 of 28 passes for 266 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Quarterback Omar Clayton in 2009 was the last UNLV quarterback to receive that honor.
Herring’s completion percentage of 85.7 broke the sch0ol record of 80.8 set by Randall Cunningham in 1984 against Idaho State.
The Rebels badly needed that victory, but it didn’t appear they would get it when the Chippewas dominated early in taking a 21-0 lead. UNLV then scored the game’s next 31 points to equal its best comeback victory, tying the mark set in 1976 against Nebraska-Omaha.
After being outgained 233-33 through roughly the first quarter and a half, the Rebels then put together an amazing 378-145 advantage.
“It shows a lot about our team in that we want to win,” linebacker Tim Hasson said. “All our coaches did a good job in keeping us up and giving us that extra motivation, telling us we’re good enough to come back.”
NOTES — Senior cornerback Sidney Hodge, who went to Palo Verde High School, underwent shoulder surgery last week, and his college career appears to be over. Hauck noted that Hodge has graduated and he has a family, and probably is ready to move on. Junior cornerback Kenneth Penny has taken over the spot, and he broke up three passes against Central Michigan. “Kenny came in and started and played a great game,” Hauck said. “If you had asked me August, probably better than I thought he could play.” … Saturday’s game will not be televised.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.