ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Call it the prequel to the hit cable TV series filmed here that will have its much-anticipated finale on Sunday night.
“Breaking Bad II – The UNLV road losing streak.”
It seemed only fitting the Rebels (3-2, 1-0 Mountain West) should end their 23-road losing skid with a wild and crazy 56-42 victory over New Mexico at University Stadium here on Saturday night. After all, the last time UNLV won a road game was also over the Lobos here on Oct. 24, 2009, 34-17, and Walter White probably would have been an upgrade at coach for New Mexico.
Tim Cornett’s 75-yard touchdown run with 3:03 remaining finally sealed the victory for the Rebels who won despite allowing 581 yards, including 497 rushing, and not one, not two, but three 100-yard rushers.
But in a game filled with video-game like numbers – it was tied 35-35 at halftime and featured 1,149 yards in total offense – the Rebels finally found a way to slow the Lobos (1-3, 0-1) enough in the second half to pull out their third straight win.
“That’s obviously a monkey off our back to get a road win,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, who got a Gatorade shower at the end, said.
It was the first road victory in 22 tries for Hauck at UNLV, who may have to start worrying about another distraction – snapping the school’s 12-year bowl drought. That, obviously, is a much nicer problem to have to deal with.
“It means a lot,” Hauck replied when asked what breaking the road losing streak meant. “It means I don’t have to answer those questions first of all from a personal standpoint. I’m happy for our kids because that stuff wears on them. I’m just proud of them and excited.”
There were plenty of heroes for the Rebels in this one, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
* Senior quarterback Caleb Herring was once again masterful running the offense while also completing 24-of-34 passes for 293 yards, a career-best four touchdowns and no interceptions. Those numbers would have been even more eye-popping if not for a few key drops.
* Wide receiver Devante Davis toyed with the Lobo secondary, catching a career-high 10 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns, including a 7-yarder with 4:42 to go that proved to be the game-winner and capped an impressive 80-yard, 15-play drive.
* Cornett finished a career-best 179 yards on 25 carries and scored three touchdowns.
UNLV needed those glossy stats because New Mexico’s option attack, limited to just 59 total first half yards in a 47-29 loss at Pitt two weeks earlier, rolled up an amazing 400 yards rushing in the first half alone.
The Rebel defense tightened up after that, however. The Lobos finished with “only” 581 total yards. Tailback Kasey Carrier (25 carries, 192 yards, 1 TD), sophomore wide receiver Carlos Wiggins (3 carries, 119 yards, 2 TDs) and quarterback Cole Gautsche (18 carries, 108 yards, 2 TDs) all topped the 100-yard rushing barrier in defeat.
In the end, however, the one stat that mattered the most was this: 1 – number of Rebel road victories this season.
UNLV has a bye week to enjoy the win before hosting Hawaii on Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. at Sam Boyd Stadium.