RENO — At some point, the drama became whether UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring would complete a pass.
He finally did with 4:17 left in Saturday’s game, an 8-yard completion to tight end Austin Harrington.
That pass prevented a statistical shutout for Herring, but it didn’t do a thing to prevent UNLV’s team shutout, a display of offensive ineptitude even with five takeaways by its defense.
"We felt we let the defense down," Herring said.
The 37-0 blanking by UNR at Mackay Stadium was the first shutout in the series’ 37-game history, and it kept the Fremont Cannon blue for a seventh straight year, continuing the longest winning streak between the teams.
"That cannon needs to be blue," Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault said. "It needs to stay blue. That’s a big deal to us."
Apparently so, because UNR also handed UNLV its first shutout since Texas Christian beat the Rebels 41-0 on Halloween in 2009.
"I can’t even think of what that cannon looks like red," UNR defensive tackle Brett Roy said. "It’s tradition up here. They (UNLV) don’t know anything about tradition. But it’s our No. 1 thing."
The numbers bore out how much the Wolf Pack (2-3) dominated UNLV (1-4). UNR outgained the Rebels 699 yards to 110, trounced them in first downs 31-7 and held the ball for 35:39 to UNLV’s 24:21.
UNR quarterback Tyler Lantrip came off the bench after Cody Fajardo threw two interceptions to complete 18 of 29 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Rishard Matthews caught 10 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown, and Stefphon Jefferson rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries.
On the other end, it became a waiting game to see if Herring would complete a pass. He finally did in the fourth quarter, the one to Harrington the only throw that found its intended target, and Herring finished 1-for-14.
UNLV’s previous low for completions was two in 1974, also against UNR. Its previous low for passing yards was 21 in 1998 at Brigham Young.
Herring’s performance followed the one two weeks ago in which he had three interceptions returned for touchdowns in a 41-16 home loss to Southern Utah, a Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
"I wasn’t at all thinking about the Southern Utah game," Herring said. "We were preparing for Reno for two weeks now. The Southern Utah game hurt, but it wasn’t a mental factor in today’s game."
Rebels coach Bobby Hauck didn’t necessarily guarantee Herring would remain the starter when the Rebels visit Wyoming on Saturday. But Hauck also didn’t give any indication he would switch to backup Sean Reilly, and the fact Reilly never entered this game could be telling.
"We examine all of (the positions) every day," Hauck said. "We’ll go back and watch the film and see where we’re at."
The first true indication of trouble occurred on UNLV’s second drive. Linebacker C.J. Cox had just forced a fumble that safety Quinton Pointer recovered at the Wolf Pack’s 17-yard line.
Two plays later on third-and-6, Herring threw a pass to wide receiver Phillip Payne in the end zone, a play that has often worked so well. This time, however, UNR cornerback Isaiah Frey intercepted the pass.
It was the closest UNLV came to reaching the end zone.
"Certainly, we gave ourselves opportunities early, and we didn’t capitalize," Hauck said. "We just weren’t good enough tonight to win up here."
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.UNR — 37
UNLV — 0
KEY: The Wolf Pack outgained the Rebels 699 yards to 110.
NEXT: UNLV at Wyoming, 11 a.m. PDT Saturday, The Mtn. (334), KWWN (1100 AM, 98.9 FM)
LOCAL TELECAST SPOTTY DURING FIRST HALF
UNLV’s lopsided loss at UNR was a headache for Rebels fans, especially those in Las Vegas who wanted to watch — or hear — the telecast on local TV. During the first half, there was no audio, and some viewers complained the picture blacked out on Cox 96.
Steve Schorr, vice president of public affairs for Cox Communications, said it was an “audio incompatibility” problem between Cox in Las Vegas and the production of the game in Reno. He said seven employees were working on the issue locally.
“As a company, we apologize to the whole community for the audio issue,” Schorr said. “We’re trying to figure out how it took place and why it took place.”
The broadcast returned to normal in the second half.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL