Cougars Survive MWC Opener at UNLV; Remain Undefeated

Reno Mahe lead the BYU receivers with 7 catches for 65 yards against UNLV. The Cougar offense showed a little rust after a 20-day layoff. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

LAS -- It wasn't a blowout and it wasn't the Cougars' best performance of the season, but No. 20 BYU (4-0) remained undefeated on the season by defeating UNLV (0-4) in a come-from-behind victory, 35-31, on Saturday.

Down 31-28 with just over two minutes remaining, "The Domanator" Brandon Doman led the Cougars 91 yards for a touchdown with 1:12 remaining in the game. Facing fourth down and four on the BYU 38-yard line, Doman completed a pass across the middle to Mike Rigell, who advanced the ball all the way to the UNLV 22-yard line -- a crucical 42-yard gain. On the next play Doman rolled left then darted back to the right and took it all the way into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

UNLV advanced the ball all the way to BYU's 30-yard line on the ensuing possession before Jason Thomas threw an errant pass on fourth down sealing the Cougar victory and causing UNLV head coach John Robinson to suffer his first-ever 0-4 start. The loss also marked the sixth straight conference-opening defeat for the Rebels.

"I'm impressed with the quarterback (Doman)," said UNLV head coach John Robinson. "He made four or five plays that kept them in the game because of his scrambles. BYU is a good team. They are a hard team to stop."

Doman finished the game 23-of-37 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 48 yards and one touchdown. Doman is now 6-0 as a starter, becoming the first BYU quarterback to win his first six starts since Robbie Bosco in 1984.

The Cougars didn't take long to show some rust from a 20-day layoff. Luke Staley fumbled the opening kickoff and UNLV's Derek Olsen returned the fumble 22 yards for a touchdown.

BYU answered on its next possession, driving down the field and scoring on a 15-yard Staley reception. But UNLV owned the first quarter, taking a 21-10 lead into the first break.

Justin Ena celebrates after his first interception of the season. The BYU defense held UNLV in several key situations, late in the game, to preserve the victory. (photo by Mark Philbrick)

The Cougars took all the momentum into the half, outscoring the Rebels 18-0 in the second quarter and taking a 28-21 lead into the locker room. But the UNLV defense held BYU scoreless in the second half until Doman's late-game heroics. The Cougars failed to produce a single point in the third quarter, marking only the third time this season BYU has not scored during a single quarter of play.

"It's still early but we are where we want to be," said BYU head coach Gary Crowton. "I'm really pleased with the team for hanging in there and I'm glad we got the win. It was a good character-builder. We are fortunate to win and I was happy the team hung in there. Their 'don't-give-up' attitude was a good lsson for the team."

Turnovers plagued the Cougars throughout the game. Doman threw his first interception of the season and first in 112 attempts in the first half. Soren Halladay and Reno Mahe also fumbled for the Cougars, giving BYU four turnovers in the game, marking the most turnovers since giving up six turnovers against Colorado State last season.

Going into the game, BYU only had one turnover -- a Doman fumble against Tulane in the season opener. UNLV capitalized on the Cougars' mistakes and scored 21 points off the four turnovers.

"I was worried about us missing tackles and fumbling and those are the two things we did," Crowton said.

Matt Payne connected on two of three field goal attempts. He made field goals from 50 and 42 yards, and missed just wide left on an attempt from 41 yards.

The Cougar defense allowed 10 points in the second half, but made the plays when it had to, including a crucial stop late in the fourth quarter.

"Our defense bends but doesn't break," Crowton said. "They don't get overaggressive and give up the big play." On the night, the BYU defense held UNLV standout Jason Thomas to just 132 yards passing and minus-five yards rushing.

The Cougars will have a short week to prepare for in-state foe Utah State on Friday. BYU will take on Utah State at LaVell Edwards Stadium, beginning at 7 p.m. (MDT).

BYU POST-GAME NOTES

ò BYU's victory at UNLV on Saturday is the Cougars' fourth straight win of the season, marking the first 4-0 start since the 1993 season. With tonight's win, the 20th-ranked Cougars improve to 1-0 in MWC play, marking the first league-opening victory since the 1999 season (vs. Colorado State). The win improves BYU's all-time record over UNLV to 8-1, including six straight wins over the Rebels.

ò With Luke Staley's 15-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter , BYU extended its NCAA record streak to 328 games without being shutout. BYU was last shutout during the 1975 season (Sept. 27, 1975 vs. Arizona State.)

ò UNLV's first-quarter touchdown, after a fumble on the opening kickoff, marked the quickest score against BYU to start a game since Utah's Andre Dyson returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown with only :52 off the clock. The Rebels scored just :13 into the game.

ò Luke Staley's fumble on the opening kickoff marked only the Cougars second turnover of the season.

ò UNLV's sack with 9:35 left in the first quarter marked only the second sack BYU has allowed on the season.

ò Matt Payne's 50-yard field goal with 8:57 in the first quarter marked the longest of his career and his first from longer than 30 yards this season. The field goal also marked the first 50-yard field goal against UNLV since Oct. 14, 1995. Payne connected on a 42-yarder with 12:12 remaining in the second quarter to mark his second longest career field goal.

ò UNLV's Sam Brandon's interception in the first quarter marked BYU quarterback Brandon Doman's first interception of the season and his first in 112 attempts.

ò Luke Staley's six-yard run on fourth-and-one, with 14:04 left in the second quarter was the Cougars' first of two fourth-down conversions. BYU also converted a crucial fourth-and-four late in the fourth quarter to set up an eventual game-winning touchdown. The Cougars are 5-for-6 on fourth-down conversions this season.

ò Justin Ena's interception with 13:02 left in the second quarter marked his first interception of the season. Jernaro Gilford also recorded his first interception of the season after picking Jason Thomas with :29 remaining in the first half. The Cougars held Thomas to just four completions on nine attempts with two interceptions in the first half.

ò Brandon Doman's 54-yard touchdown reception to Rodney Wilkerson with :54 remaining in the first half gave BYU a 28-21 lead heading in to the half. The Cougars have never trailed at the half this season. The play also marked Doman's longest pass completion of the season. The 54-yard touchdown marked the third scoring play of over 50 yards.

ò Brandon Doman's two-point conversion with :54 remaining in the first half marked the Cougars' first two-point conversion of the season.

ò BYU committed two turnovers in the first half marking more turnovers in one half than the Cougars have committed all season. On the night, BYU committed a total four turnovers, marking the first time since giving up six turnovers against Colorado State last season.

ò UNLV held BYU scoreless in the third quarter, marking only the third scoreless quarter for the Cougars this season.

ò BYU's four-point victory marks the closet winning margin since Sept. 23, 2000 when the Cougars tallied only a three-point win against UNLV in Provo.

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score

----------------- -- -- -- -- -----

#20 Brigham Young....10 18 0 7 - 35 Record: (3-0)

UNLV................ 21 0 7 3 - 31 Record: (0-3)

Scoring Summary:

1st 14:47 UNLV - OLSEN, Derek 22 yd fumble recovery (PIEFFER, Dillon kick)

12:19 BYU - STALEY, Luke 14 yd pass from DOMAN, Brandon (PAYNE, Matt kick)

08:57 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 50 yd field goal, 7-1 2:26

04:56 UNLV - HARO, Joe 3 yd run (PIEFFER, Dillon kick)

02:50 UNLV - DORSEY, Dominiq 8 yd run (PIEFFER, Dillon kick)

2nd 13:19 BYU - ANDERSON, Justi 1 yd run (PAYNE, Matt kick)

12:12 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 42 yd field goal

00:54 BYU - WILKERSON, Rod 54 yd pass from DOMAN, Brandon (DOMAN, Brandon rush)

3rd 09:22 UNLV - DORSEY, Dominiq 12 yd run (PIEFFER, Dillon kick)

4th 06:32 UNLV - PIEFFER, Dillon 22 yd field goal

01:12 BYU - DOMAN, Brandon 21 yd run (PAYNE, Matt kick)

BYU UNLV

FIRST DOWNS................... 26 18

RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 35-167 49-189

PASSING YDS (NET)............. 281 132

Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 38-23-1 18-11-2

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 73-448 67-321

Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 1-22

Punt Returns-Yards............ 3-24 0-0

Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 5-121 5-160

Interception Returns-Yards.... 2-7 1-20

Punts (Number-Avg)............ 3-39.3 6-39.8

Fumbles-Lost.................. 6-3 3-1

Penalties-Yards............... 6-44 3-34

Possession Time............... 27:15 32:45

Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-7 2-11

RUSHING: Brigham Young-STALEY, Luke 15-77; DOMAN, Brandon 14-48; McDONALD,

Brian 5-26; WILKERSON, Rod 1-15; ANDERSON, Justi 0-1. UNLV-HARO, Joe 21-80;

DORSEY, Dominiq 14-77; COSTA, Steven 5-40; MASON, Troy 1-minus 3; THOMAS,

Jason 8-minus 5.

PASSING: Brigham Young-DOMAN, Brandon 23-37-1-281; RIGELL, Mike 0-1-0-0.

UNLV-THOMAS, Jason 11-18-2-132.

RECEIVING: Brigham Young-MAHE, Reno 7-65; STALEY, Luke 4-40; ORD, Andrew

4-33; HALLADAY, Soren 3-21; WILKERSON, Rod 2-65; RIGELL, Mike 2-50;

ANDERSON, Justi 1-7. UNLV-MASON, Troy 3-31; NERO, Bobby 2-23; MANDLEY,

DeJhow 2-19; JOHNSON, Michae 2-18; JOHNSON, Earvin 1-21; COSTA, Steven 1-20.

INTERCEPTIONS: Brigham Young-ENA, Justin 1-6; GILFORD, Jernar 1-1.

UNLV-BRANDON, Sam 1-20.

FUMBLES: Brigham Young-STALEY, Luke 2-1; DOMAN, Brandon 2-0; MAHE, Reno 1-1;

HALLADAY, Soren 1-1. UNLV-HARO, Joe 2-1; DORSEY, Dominiq 1-0.

Stadium: Sam Boyd Stadium Attendance: 32601

Kickoff time: 4:07 pm End of Game: 07:19 pm Total elapsed time: 3:12

Officials: Referee: Gerald Wright; Umpire: Darrell Jenkins;

Linesman: David Hettema; Line judge: Jack Lynch; Back judge: Terry Leyden;

Field judge: Land Clark; Side judge: Karl Richins; Scorer: Jim Shaffer;

Temperature: 100 Wind: S 1 MPH Weather: Partly Cloudy

SACKS (UA-A): Brigham Young-DENNEY, Ryan 0-1; KEISEL, Brett 0-1; COWART,

Jeff 1-0. UNLV-PALEPOI, Anton 1-0; MILLER, Ahmad 1-0.

TACKLES (UA-A): Brigham Young-MADARIETA, Levi 7-5; DENNEY, Ryan 5-4; KELLEY,

Isaac 4-4; KEISEL, Brett 4-3; ENA, Justin 2-5; WALKENHORST, Pa 2-3; Team

4-0; PILI, Ifo 2-2; STALEY, Dustin 2-2; GILFORD, Jernar 2-1; COWART, Jeff

2-1; WRIGHT, Bill 1-1; EDMONDS, Aaron 1-0; HEANEY, Brandon 1-0; MAHE, Reno

1-0; BOCKWOLDT, Colb 1-0; JOLLEY, Doug 1-0; LAFITTE, Michae 1-0; ELLIOTT,

Kurt 0-1; PEAUA, Moa 0-1; ARCHIBALD, Ben 0-1. UNLV-BRANDON, Sam 6-2; WYNN,

Jamal 5-3; THOMAS, Kevin 5-2; CLARIDGE, Ryan 5-1; BURRUS, Tosh 4-1; WILSON,

Shanga 2-3; MILLER, Ahmad 2-2; PALEPOI, Anton 2-1; SMELTZER, Toby 2-1;

BRIMMER, Jamaal 1-2; WATSON, Adrian 1-2; JOHNSON, Michae 2-0; BRIGGS, Ahmad

2-0; PARKHURST, Scot 1-1; DALTON, Ross 0-2; OWENS, LaMar 0-2; OLSEN, Derek

1-0; BELL, Zach 1-0; SUTTON, Chameio 1-0; BARNES, Deon 1-0; HARO, Joe 1-0;

COSTA, Steven 0-1; SEWARD, Adam 0-1; MANDLEY, DeJhow 0-1.

Tags: Results