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September 15, 2013Las Vegas - It was the tale of two halves at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night. In the first half, it was all Central Michigan. With seven minutes left in the second quarter, CMU had built a 21-0 lead and took a 21-7 lead into halftime. However, UNLV kept the Chippewas off the scoreboard in the second half and scored 31 unanswered points to pick up their first win of the year, 31-21.
"They made plays and we didn't. End of story." CMU head coach Dan Enos said. "In the first half, we made plays. In the second half, we had as many opportunities to make plays, but we didn't make them and they did."
The Chippewas came out of the gate Saturday firing on all cylinders, scoring one touchdown in the first quarter and two more in the first eight minutes of the second quarter to build up their three-touchdown lead.
Sophomore Saylor Lavallii punched it in from three yards out with 4:23 left in the first quarter for the first touchdown of the game, capping an 11-play, 68-yard drive.
Lavallii had another three-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter for his second score of the game and finished another long Chippewa touchdown drive.
CMU added their third score in the first 23 minutes of the game when redshirt freshman quarterback Cooper Rush hit Titus Davis for a 20-yard touchdown pass to cap a quick five-play, 50-yard touchdown drive.
Unfortunately, that was the last points the Chippewas would put on the board.
UNLV got on the board with just under one minute left in the half. Senior quarterback Caleb Herring hit UNLV's top receiver Devante Davis on a 12-yard touchdown pass with 54 seconds left in the second quarter.
Herring entered the game on the Rebels' third drive of the game after sophomore Nick Sherry struggled on UNLV's first two possessions. The Rebel senior finished the game with 266 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 24 of his 28 pass attempts.
The Rebels scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to tie the game, 21-21. Senior running back Tim Cornett, who finished with 94 yards on 22 carries, ran the ball in from 12 yards out for UNLV's first score of the second half.
With just under three minutes left in the third quarter, Herring connected with Davis for a 42-yard touchdown pass that tied the game. UNLV took the lead one minute, 19 seconds into the fourth quarter with a 34-yard Nolan Kohorst field goal.
Despite the UNLV comeback, the largest in program history, Central Michigan bounced back after the Rebels took the lead, driving to the UNLV 26-yard-line. Rush hit Kroll for a 13-yard pass and Davis on a 23-yarder during the possession. But on second-and-8, Rush was pressured and his throw was picked off by UNLV strong safety Peni Vea at the Rebel six-yard-line, ending the CMU drive.
"The second one he tried to force, but the first was a freshman mistake," Enos said. He threw it over the wrong shoulder. Titus (Davis) was open over the top and he didn't' throw it. He knew it as soon as he came off the field."
UNLV followed the turnover with a 13-play, 94-yard touchdown drive that took four minutes, 36 seconds off the clock and sealed the Rebel victory. Herring hit Davis on a 12-yard touchdown pass for the score. It was the third time in the game that Herring and Davis connected for a touchdown. Along with the three touchdown catches, Davis finished the game with seven receptions for 140 yards.
After the Rebels took a 10-point lead, the Chippewas moved out to the 50-yard-line, but had another drive end with a Rush interception.
CMU forced a turnover on downs and drove the ball to the UNLV 28-yard-line, but took a sack on a fourth-and-10 to turn the ball over on downs.
The tale of two halves could also be seen in the difference in yardage throughout different portions of the game. CMU outgained UNLV in the first quarter, 132 yards to 10. After the Chippewas scored to take a 21-0 lead, CMU had a 268-39 yardage advantage. At halftime, CMU still held a 273-115 advantage. However, UNLV outgained CMU, 202-24 in the third quarter and 296-105 in the second half.
"We couldn't run the ball," Enos said. "We became one-dimensional and when you become one-dimensional, people can tee off on you. That's the big thing."
Central Michigan will open conference play next Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium against the Toledo Rockets. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m.
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