A 7 point victory over a team that won only one game last year, and is ranked in the bottom ten by ESPN.com doesn’t look that good on paper. In fact, only covering the spread by half a point when the other team had 4 fumbles doesn’t sound that great either. Beating the Aggies, and then explaining that they don’t play in Texas, also not great. But for those of us watching UNLV like a spouse watching their significant other on life support, this was the equivalent to the lifeless body squeezing our hand. We have now a glimmer of hope.
An offensive sequence in the fourth quarter perfectly showed why this team is different than the past two. With a first down inside their own 40 UNLV Quarterback Travis Dixon caught star receiver Ryan Wolfe on a crossing pattern, which Wolfe turned upfield and outran the entire Utah State defense for a touchdown. Holding my joy I waited, and then I heard the radio announcer say what I was expecting, “But wait, there is a flag near the 28 yard line… UNLV called for a block in the back,” and I waited to hear more, “and the four wasn’t anywhere near the play.” Surprised? Not at all, this is UNLV football.
When plays like this have happened the last few years the offensive would have cowered, and ended up punting. But on the very next play Dixon connected with a receiver for a long pass putting us inside the Utah State 20. And on the very next play Dixon ran it in for a touchdown.
But wait, there’s more.
With the score tied at 16 and less than five minutes to play the UNLV defense held the Aggies to a defensive 3 and out, and we got the ball back around mid-field. Normally, a UNLV team would try and pound the ball into field goal range while burning clock. This year, pass after pass, getting us to the 11 yard line with 1:02 on the clock. That was when UNLV brought in the tank, Frank Summers. On the handoff Summers flattened the first Aggie that came at him, cut outside, and even bowled over his own team mate to put the rock in the end zone.
Now I don’t care that it was Utah State that we beat. I don’t care that we couldn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter. I don’t care that next week Wisconsin will make us look like a JV team. For the first time in years I saw a UNLV football team that had heart, that showed character, that found a way to win.
Now remind me of this when we are 2-10.