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Rebels’ struggles mount in 55-7 loss to BYU

PROVO, Utah — UNLV has had some bad losses throughout the 43-year history of its football program.

Few were as bad as Saturday’s.

Brigham Young asserted itself from the outset, blowing the Rebels off the LaVell Edwards Stadium field in a 55-7 rout, tying for the fourth-worst defeat in UNLV’s history.

“They dominated us any way you look at it,” Rebels coach Bobby Hauck said. “I’m really disappointed with the way we played, and frankly I don’t think that we have enough toughness on our football team, in particular mental toughness, and that starts with the head coach not being tough enough.

“So I’ve got to improve myself and spend the next 10 months developing toughness on our football team, because when things go wrong for us, we have a tendency to let things snowball on us. We don’t have the ability when things start to go the wrong direction to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and make things happen.”

UNLV’s lackluster performance was against what has been a disappointing BYU team, at least by the program’s high standards. But the Cougars (4-5, 3-2 Mountain West Conference) gave UNLV (1-8, 1-4) something to remember them by before leaving the conference next year to become a football independent.

This is a game the Rebels, who play Wyoming on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium, would just as soon forget.

“After that performance, we’re embarrassed, and we need to go home and get to work,” UNLV linebacker Calvin Randleman said.

UNLV was outgained 516 yards to 144. The Rebels didn’t pick up a first down in the first quarter and had only one in the third period. They had 11 first downs for the game, compared with 29 for BYU.

The Rebels prevented a shutout when quarterback Caleb Herring completed a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marcus Sullivan with 41 seconds left. Until that final drive, UNLV hadn’t advanced past BYU’s 44-yard line and had just three snaps on the Cougars’ side of the field.

Herring played most of the game and completed 8 of 21 passes for 109 yards, with one interception. Starter Omar Clayton played parts of the first and third quarters and was 3 of 8 for 13 yards.

Clayton’s interception on the game’s first play from scrimmage set the tone, though UNLV’s defense forced a three-and-out. BYU then scored touchdowns on its following five possessions to take a 35-0 lead.

That’s more points than the Cougars — whose offense until Saturday had been pedestrian — had scored in any game this year. Their previous high was in a 25-20 victory over Wyoming two weeks ago.

BYU quarterback Jake Heaps, the much-hyped freshman, completed 19 of 31 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns in easily his best game of the season. He hadn’t even cracked 100 yards passing in his two previous outings.

“When there was pressure, Jake stepped up and delivered the football accurately,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “It was just the next step in him improving. There have been steps forward and not back. It was just more visible today.”

Hauck is looking for a step forward for his program. He has seen plenty of steps back, and this one might have been the most visible.

“I’ve got to demand more out of the guys, and I’ve been too easy,” Hauck said. “It’s going to increase a bunch.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.

 

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