BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Heading into Saturday's matchup with No. 24 Boise State, UNLV coach Bobby Hauck hoped his young team would avoid a letdown after a devastating loss to in-state rival Nevada.
The good news is Hauck says he didn't see any evidence of a collective Rebel hangover against the Broncos. But not much else went right as the Broncos rolled to a 32-7 victory and handed the Rebels their fourth straight defeat.
"Our guys were physical, they played throughout," said Hauck. "So, I wouldn't say we were lacking intensity at all, I would just say that we didn't play well enough to beat that team."
Boise State (6-1, 3-0 Mountain West) won its sixth straight behind a dominating defense that forced three turnovers and held quarterback Nick Sherry to just 71 yards passing.
The Bronco defense also scored a touchdown when Jerrell Gavins scooped up a Marcus Sullivan fumble and dashed 16 yards untouched to the end zone to give Boise State a commanding 25-0 lead before the half.
Minutes before, Gavins spoiled the most promising scoring chance of the first half for UNLV (1-7, 1-2) when he picked off a Sherry pass in the right corner of the end zone.
"We got off to a not very good start and didn't capitalize on opportunities. When it plays out that way, it's not going to be good, especially here," said Hauck, whose team hits the road again next week to play at San Diego State.
Sherry was 14 of 31, was sacked twice and harried and battered all day by a relentless Boise State pass rush.
Bradley Randle led the Rebels on offense with 64 yards on 16 carries and Tim Cornett rushed 16 times for 61 yards and moved up to No. 5 all-time for rushing yards in school history.
The only Rebel points came too late to matter and courtesy of the defense. Midway through the fourth quarter, backup Bronco quarterback backup Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick took off downfield but had the ball jarred loose by Rebel linebacker John Lotulelei. The ball bounced into the hands of cornerback Kenneth Penny, who dashed down the sidelines untouched for the touchdown.
"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and came up with a big score," said Penny.
But for most of the game, the defense didn't have enough of those kinds of plays to derail Boise State's diverse attack.
D.J. Harper rushed for two TDs and Jay Ajayi added another from 4 yards out to extend Boise State's lead to 32-0 in the third quarter.
Quarterback Joe Southwick was 22 of 30 for 243 yards and an interception and the Broncos, now locked in a tie for first with Nevada, rolled up 394 total yards on offense.
But it was the Boise State defense that set the tone early and dominated until the end.
The Rebels managed only 210 total yards and had only two drives that penetrated the red zone. The first ended when Gavins intercepted Sherry's pass in the first half, and the second resulted in a 22-yard missed field goal by Nolan Kohorst.
"We need to get going here as we enter the last five weeks of the season," Hauck said. "We need to have some good performances. Certainly today, we didn't play well enough to win."