Sophomore Andrew Rich came up with the only turnover of the game Saturday with an interception in end zone as time expired. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
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PROVO -- No. 17 BYU started and ended Saturday afternoon’s game against UNLV with big plays and endured a hard-fought battle in between to secure a 42-35 victory in front of a sellout crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“It was a very hard-fought victory and a sweet victory,” said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, whose team improved to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Mountain West Conference. “I was pleased with our team. When it comes down to winning football games there has to be grit, determination, execution and we have to make enough plays to win. That is what we did today and I’m proud of our team.”
BYU junior wide receiver Austin Collie made a play to open the game when he returned the opening kickoff 75 yards to set up BYU’s earliest scoring strike of the season when Andrew George hauled in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Max Hall with just 2:35 gone off the clock. The game ended with sophomore defensive back Andrew Rich intercepted UNLV’s Omar Clayton in the end zone as time expired to end the Rebels’ last-chance attempt to force overtime.
The Cougars and Rebels stayed within one scoring possession of each other during the entire game and UNLV stood at the 25-yard line when Rich intercepted the Rebels’ last hope of matching BYU.
Junior quarterback Max Hall led the offensively dominated game going 24-of-31 for 245 yards and four touchdowns, while Collie led the team with seven receptions for 113 yards. Collie set a new MWC record with his sixth straight 100-yard receiving game.
After BYU opened with the early score, UNLV answered back by marching 62 yards down field over 13 plays to even the score at 7-7.
With Hall at the helm of the BYU offense, the quarterback led the Cougars to a 14-7 lead with five complete passes in the 10-play scoring drive. Collie continued to pose a threat to UNLV, making two receptions and one rush for a total of 34 yards on the drive. True freshman wide receiver O’Neil Chambers culminated the drive by recording his first touchdown of the season as he and Hall connected on a 20-yard pass.
UNLV was unrelenting as they tried to match the Cougars. Clayton connected with Casey Flair for a 29-yard pass, and a BYU penalty put UNLV within 10 yards, before a Mike Clausen sneak tied the game 14-14.
A 39-yard punt from C.J. Santiago landed UNLV on the 1-yard line before going three and out. Freshman Bryan Kariya blocked the Rebel’s punt and Brandon Bradley recovered it in the air to give BYU the ball at the UNLV 15. After a Rebel penalty gave BYU possession at the 5-yard line, Unga carried the ball for two yards before a three-yard rush gave the running back his first touchdown of the game. BYU took the lead for the third time during the game.
Continuing its fierce efforts to remain in contention with BYU, UNLV tied the game at 21-21. Clayton combined for 62 yards on two passes before running back Frank Summers made the 1-yard dive into the end zone.
The Cougar offense continued to pull ahead, putting BYU up 28-21 after its first possession in the second half. Senior running back Fui Vakapuna rushed for 49 yards over three carries, bringing back memories of 2006 when he rushed for 481 yards with eight touchdowns.
BYU’s lead did not last long as UNLV drove down field to answer back. The Rebels converted in all three third-down attempts during the drive before a quarterback sneak brought Clausen into the end zone.
Tied 28-28 to start the fourth quarter, BYU drove down field and settled for a 26-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Mitch Payne. BYU took a 31-28 lead, putting pressure on the defense to hold UNLV.
The defense responded to the pressure. On fourth-and-three the Rebels went for a first down on a fake punt but Clayton’s pass was broken up, which gave BYU possession at the UNLV 35-yard line.
Payne knocked in a 39-yard field goal to extend BYU’s lead to 34-28.
UNLV took possession of the football at the 40-yard line and scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Clayton to Ryan Wolfe to give the Rebels their only lead of the game at 35-34 with just 6:49 remaining.
With an urgency to score, Hall completed all five pass attempts to drive BYU 74 yards to paydirt. Hall found junior tight end Dennis Pitta on a 6-yard touchdown pass with 1:46 to play. The Cougars went for two on the conversion and Hall completed a pass to Harvey Unga to give BYU a touchdown advantage at 42-35.
Clayton led the Rebels all the way to the BYU 14-yard line with less than 20 seconds remaining but the Cougars would make the final two big plays of the game. With 17 ticks on the clock, Clayton was chased down and sacked by freshman lineman Matt Putnam to put force the Rebels back to the 25. The Rebels had one more play at third-and-22 and seven seconds left but Rich intercepted Clayton’s pass in the end zone to finish the game with BYU’s 42-35 lead intact.
BYU totaled 454 yards of total offense with a season-high 209 yards rushing and 245 yards in the air, while the Rebels totaled 463 with 112 on the ground and 351 via the pass. With the loss, UNLV falls to 3-5 overall and 0-4 in league play.
The Cougars return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. in Fort Collins, Colo. when they take on conference-foe Colorado State.
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Box Score (Final)
UNLV vs BYU (Oct 25, 2008 at Provo,Utah)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
UNLV................ 7 14 7 7 - 35 Record: (3-5,0-4)
BYU................. 14 7 7 14 - 42 Record: (7-1,3-1)
1st 12:25 BY - GEORGE, Andrew 8 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), , LV 0 - BY 7
06:33 LV - SUMMERS, Frank 6 yd run (WATSON, Kyle kick), , LV 7 - BY 7
01:34 BY - CHAMBERS, O'Nei 20 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), , LV 7 - BY 14
2nd 13:18 LV - CLAUSEN, Mike 1 yd run (WATSON, Kyle kick), , LV 14 - BY 14
07:18 BY - UNGA, Harvey 2 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), , LV 14 - BY 21
04:51 LV - SUMMERS, Frank 1 yd run (WATSON, Kyle kick), , LV 21 - BY 21
3rd 07:52 BY - VAKAPUNA, Fui 1 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), , LV 21 - BY 28
02:46 LV - CLAUSEN, Mike 2 yd run (WATSON, Kyle kick), , LV 28 - BY 28
4th 14:11 BY - PAYNE, Mitch 26 yd field goal, , LV 28 - BY 31
08:36 BY - PAYNE, Mitch 39 yd field goal, , LV 28 - BY 34
06:49 LV - WOLFE, Ryan 15 yd pass from CLAYTON, Omar (WATSON, Kyle kick), , LV 35 - BY 34
01:46 BY - PITTA, Dennis 6 yd pass from HALL, Max (UNGA, Harvey pass from HALL, Max), , LV 35 - BY 42
FIRST DOWNS................... 25 22
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 31-112 34-209
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 351 245
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 44-28-1 32-24-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 75-463 66-454
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 4-85 5-158
Interception Returns-Yards.... 0-0 1-0
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 2-19.0 2-34.0
Fumbles-Lost.................. 0-0 0-0
Penalties-Yards............... 5-31 7-39
Possession Time............... 29:47 30:13
Third-Down Conversions........ 11 of 15 7 of 11
Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 2 0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 5-6 6-6
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 1-8 1-11
RUSHING: UNLV-JOHNSON, M. 5-41; SUMMERS, Frank 12-31; COX, C.J. 6-20;
WOLFE, Ryan 3-19; CLAUSEN, Mike 3-6; CLAYTON, Omar 2-minus 5. BYU-UNGA, Harvey
19-84; VAKAPUNA, Fui 9-71; HALL, Max 3-29; COLLIE, Austin 1-15; MAHUIKA, Bryce
1-6; BRADLEY, Brando 1-4.
PASSING: UNLV-CLAYTON, Omar 26-40-1-321; CLAUSEN, Mike 2-3-0-30; ISHII,
Dack 0-1-0-0. BYU-HALL, Max 24-31-0-245; COLLIE, Austin 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: UNLV-WOLFE, Ryan 10-136; FLAIR, Casey 8-92; PAYNE, Phillip
3-46; ANTHONY, R. 2-33; SUMMERS, Frank 2-26; ROBINSON, J. 2-16; JOHNSON, M. 1-2.
BYU-COLLIE, Austin 7-113; REED, Michael 5-34; UNGA, Harvey 3-24; PITTA, Dennis
2-19; GEORGE, Andrew 2-17; VAKAPUNA, Fui 2-13; CHAMBERS, O'Nei 1-20; WHITE, Reed
1-7; DILUIGI, JJ 1-minus 2.
INTERCEPTIONS: UNLV-None. BYU-RICH, Andrew 1-0.
FUMBLES: UNLV-None. BYU-None.
SACKS (UA-A): UNLV-MAFI, H. 1-0. BYU-PUTNAM, Matt 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): UNLV-BEAUCHAMP, J. 4-8; HOWARD, G. 6-3; WORTHEN, Rusty
2-7; BURSEY JR., L. 5-2; ROUZARD, W. 1-4; FA'AVAE, G. 2-2; AAITUI, Isaako 1-3;
FORTE, Daryl 0-4; LEE, Terrance 2-1; MAFI, H. 2-1; JONES, Chris 1-2; HALES,
Jacob 0-3; POINTER, Q. 2-0; CARTER, Nate 0-2; TAUMUA, Malo 0-2; BROGDON, Chris
1-0; TEVASEU, Martin 0-1; PILI, Thor 0-1. BYU-BAUMAN, Matt 4-9; NIXON, David
4-2; TAFUNA, David 2-4; JOHNSON, Scott 2-4; RICH, Andrew 3-2; FOKETI, Mosese
2-3; CLAWSON, Coleby 1-4; BRADLEY, Brando 3-1; FOWLER, Kellen 3-1; DENNEY, Brett
1-3; DOMAN, Shawn 2-1; HOWARD, Brandon 1-2; KARIYA, Bryan 2-0; PUTNAM, Matt 2-0;
AH YOU, Matt 1-1; JORGENSEN, Jan 1-1; FRIEL, Kaneuka 1-0; SORENSEN, Danie 0-1;
PRITCHARD, Iona 0-1.