Rebels trying to start a run


POSTED: Thursday, September 17, 2009

The already chummy relationship between Hawaii and Las Vegas figures to get even closer over the next decade ... at least in terms of football.

Hawaii's visit to UNLV this weekend begins a stretch of eight games over a 10-year span for the schools, split evenly between Las Vegas and Honolulu.

The local residents who continually flock to the sparkle and glitz of the desert can attest to the challenge and allure of trying to leave Las Vegas a winner.

The Rebels hope to make that a difficult proposition for visitors to Sam Boyd Stadium as well.

Fortune hasn't been kind to UNLV in recent years, though. The Rebels haven't broken even since going 6-6 in 2003. The program's 8-5 year in 2000 stands as its lone winning season in the last 14 years.

UNLV won just two games in each of Mike Sanford's first three years as head coach, so last year's 5-7 mark offered reason for optimism entering this season.

Mixing productive veterans—quarterback Omar Clayton, receiver Ryan Wolfe and linebacker Jason Beauchamp among the leaders—with promising newcomers, the Rebels opened the year with a blowout of Sacramento State.

The Rebels, picked fifth in the preseason Mountain West Conference poll, then came within seconds of an upset of Oregon State last Saturday. But a late field goal lifted the Beavers to a 23-21 win, negating a fourth-quarter comeback led by a backup quarterback.

“;I am encouraged by how hard we played,”; said Sanford, now 12-37 in five years in Las Vegas. “;I am not one bit satisfied by coming close. I believe we are in a new era in UNLV football and coming close and playing hard is not good enough.

“;We have to be able to come back and our team has to stay together. We have to come back and come up with a great game plan and prepare to beat Hawaii. The bottom line is this is college football and we have to come back, rise up and have a great game against Hawaii and find a way to win.”;

The Rebels trailed Oregon State 20-7, with sophomore backup Mike Clausen at the controls of the offense after Clayton left with an injury in the fourth quarter.

Clausen found 6-foot-5 receiver Rodelin Anthony for a 13-yard touchdown—Anthony's second score of the game—on his first drive. A touchdown pass to Phillip Payne later gave the Rebels a 21-20 lead with 4:16 to play.

Oregon State, aided by a UNLV pass interference penalty while facing third and 26 early in the drive, escaped when Justin Kahut kicked a 33-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to overshadow UNLV's gutty performance.

Wolfe continued his climb up the MWC's record book with nine receptions for 91 yards. The graduate student is already UNLV's all-time leader in both categories with 223 career receptions covering 2,893 yards with 13 touchdowns. His reception and yardage totals rank second in the nation among active players.

Clayton is a dual threat in the backfield and completed 72 percent of his passes (31 of 43) in UNLV's first two games. Clausen is 10-for-13 with two touchdowns in his appearances off the bench.

Running back Channing Trotter has averaged 5.1 yards on his 27 carries and his three touchdown runs lead the team.

The linebacker corps is a strength of the defense, led by Beauchamp, a consensus preseason All-MWC pick after leading the conference with 10.6 tackles per game last year.

Starr Fuimaono suffered season-ending injuries early in each of the last two seasons, but has been a playmaker on defense in his return. Fuimaono leads the Rebels with 23 tackles in two games, including two for losses.

Junior defensive end Malo Taumua anchors the front line after earning honorable mention All-MWC honors last season and the Aiea graduate headlines a group of Hawaii products linking UNLV to the islands.

The Rebels have five players from Hawaii on the roster, with three in the starting lineup for the first two games.

Freshman Sean Tesoro of Baldwin made his first career start at left guard against Sacramento State. Kamu Kapanui, a Kamehameha graduate, is the Rebels' long snapper.

Radford product Ramsey Feagai is a backup defensive tackle and offensive lineman Daniel Kaanana joined the program this season following his graduation from Kamehameha.

Former Punahou standout Keith Uperesa has served as offensive line coach since 2005. Jimmy Morimoto coached at Baldwin for 15 years and is now the Rebels' assistant recruiting coordinator.





» Established in 1957, UNLV has undergone an amazing transformation from a small branch college into a thriving urban research institution of 28,000 students and 3,300 faculty and staff. UNLV's 332-acre main campus, located in a desert valley surrounded by mountains, is home to more than 220 undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degree programs.




» Men: Baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis
        » Women: Basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball
        » Colors: Scarlet and Gray
        » Conference: Mountain West » Nickname: Rebels
        » Football stadium: Sam Boyd Stadium (capacity 36,800).
        » Turf: Artificial


NOTABLE ALUMNI (source: wikipedia)


        » Guy Fieri, celebrity chef: Winner of the second season of “;The Next Food Network Star.”; Fieri's unique signature look includes his glistening bleached and spiked hair, and bowling shirts. Spokesperson for T.G.I. Friday's restaurant.
        » Jimmy Kimmel, comedian and talk show host. Attended UNLV for one year before attending Arizona State University for two years without completing a degree.
        » Marion “;Suge”; Knight, entrepreneur and former CEO of Death Row Records. Played at UNLV for several seasons and played professionally for the Los Angeles Rams as a replacement player during the 1987 NFL strike.


        » Greg Anthony, former basketball player, current college basketball analyst with CBS. » Stacy Augmon, former basketball player, currently player development coach with the Denver Nuggets.
        » Chad Campbell, professional golfer, winner of four PGA Tour tournaments, including the 2003 Tour Championship. Tied for second at the 2009 Masters.
        » Gina Carano, mixed martial artist, attended UNLV for three years, majoring in psychology. Carano lost by TKO to Cristiane Santos in Strikeforce's inaugural women's lightweight (145-pound) championship bout in the main event of Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg on Aug. 15.
        » Randall Cunningham, former pro football player. Attended UNLV from 1981 to 1985. Quarterback for the Eagles, Vikings, Cowboys and Ravens before retiring in 2002. Still lives in Las Vegas and is active in the gospel music business.
        » Larry Johnson: Former NBA player (1991-2001) and a two-time all-star with the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks. Spent two years at UNLV (1990-91), where he is ranked No. 12 in scoring and No. 7 in rebounds.
        » Shawn Marion, power forward currently with the Dallas Mavericks. Played one season (1998-99) at UNLV before turning pro.
        » Reggie Theus, former NBA player (Bulls, Kings, Hawks, Magic, Nets). Coached New Mexico State (2005-07) and the Sacramento Kings (2007-08). Played at UNLV from 1976 to 1978.









First Downs
Avg. per game35.547.0
Total Offense
Total plays122121
Avg. per play6.45.0
Avg. per game388.0305.0
Rushing Yards
Avg. per rush4.02.2
Avg. per game111.084.0
Passing Yards
Avg. per pass9.56.0
Avg. per catch14.59.3
Avg. per game304.0186.0
Time of Possession/Game



Channing Trotter227141-41375.132568.5
Omar Clayton2165.131-43-172.8383255191.5
Ryan Wolfe21415811.203479.0


UNLV 100143559
Opponents 0914326