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Boise State dominates defensively to beat Rebels, 32-7

BOISE, IDAHO – The good news for UNLV is it probably won’t face a defense like Boise State’s again.

The Broncos lived up to their defensive reputation, shutting down a Rebels offense that had scored at least 30 points in three of UNLV’s previous four games.

The Rebels managed only 210 yards in a 32-7 loss Saturday on the blue turf at Bronco Stadium, a defeat made more painful when quarterback Nick Sherry appeared to hurt his back late in the game.

Coach Bobby Hauck said he didn’t know Sherry’s status, but expected the quarterback to be ready this week when UNLV (1-7, 1-2 Mountain West Conference) plays at San Diego State. The Rebels will try to snap a 19-game road losing streak.

They had little chance of ending that skid at No. 24 Boise State (6-1, 3-0), especially against a defense that came in allowing only 14.7 points per game. The Broncos extended their streak of not allowing first-half points to five games.

The Rebels reached the red zone only once, and their offense never got into the end zone. Their only score occurred with 9:30 to play when linebacker John Lotulelei forced a fumble that cornerback Kenneth Penny returned 30 yards to break up the shutout.

"They whipped our tails today," Hauck said. "I was impressed with the way they played. They’ve been pretty unbeatable here for the last 13 years, and we didn’t have enough obviously to get it done today."

It’s not as if the Rebels didn’t have chances, but they followed their season-long pattern of missed opportunities and inexplicable mistakes. Sherry had one pass into the end zone intercepted and another one dropped, and Nolan Kohorst missed a 22-yard field goal.

"Going down the field and not finishing drives is something that bothers me," Hauck said. "We had our chances. We would’ve certainly had to play more than just marginally better, though, to win today against those guys."

Sherry, who appears on his way to being the top freshman passer in Mountain West history, was repeatedly tossed to the turf behind a line that was without left tackle Brett Boyko (leg) for the entire game and right tackle Yusef Rodgers (leg) for much of it. Sherry finished 14 of 31 for a season-low 71 yards, with two interceptions.

"Their D-line is very physical," said Cameron Jefferson, who replaced Boyko. "They’re a good combination of speed and power, and they have good technique."

UNLV outrushed the Broncos 139 yards to 137. Bradley Randle led with 64 yards, and Tim Cornett added 61. Cornett moved past Joe Haro into fifth place on UNLV’s rushing yardage list with 2,046.

The Rebels defense, which came in allowing 36 points per game, showed some promise, holding Boise State’s offense to 18 points in the first half and just a touchdown in the second.

The Broncos’ other first-half score was allowed by UNLV’s offense when wide receiver Marcus Sullivan literally handed them a touchdown. His fumble while stretching for a first down after a catch was recovered by cornerback Jerrell Gavins and returned 16 yards for a touchdown.

One question entering this game was whether UNLV would be down emotionally after the crushing 42-37 loss to UNR the week before.

The Rebels appeared to play with enough passion; they had other, more pressing, issues.

"Our guys were physical," Hauck said. "They played throughout, so I wouldn’t say we were lacking intensity at all. I would just say we didn’t play well enough to beat that team."

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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