The Rebels (2-2, 1-0), behind the powerful running of junior tailback Frank "The Tank" Summers, won the battle of the trenches to win their conference opener for the first time in 12 years, 27-0, on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Summers rushed for 190 yards on 29 carries and scored two touchdowns. He also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass and seemed to set the tone for the night midway through the first quarter when he broke four tackles while breaking loose for a 24-yard run.
Meanwhile, the Rebel defense, led by linebacker Beau Bell (9 tackles) and senior corner Mil'Von James (6 tackles, 4 pass breakups), registered its first shutout since a 38-0 blanking of North Texas in 2000. It was also the first time Utah had been shutout since 1993 against Arizona State.
This against the same Utah team that had dismantled No. 11 UCLA, 44-6, a week earlier.
"We were a physical football team tonight," UNLV coach Mike Sanford said. "We ran the football tonight. Everybody has asking me about the run game and I kept telling you that Frank Summers is going to show up and he did tonight. Frank Summers is a tremendous football player. We blocked well up front tonight."
Summers hadn't rushed for more than 43 yards in any previous UNLV contest.
"Tonight was just a case of us having the opportunity to establish the run," Summer said. "We didn't get behind the eight-ball with penalties or mistakes (or) really getting behind in the game. We ran our four-minute offense for the first time this year which was a great thing for us. I'm happy I was able to get some more carries and we could get out of here with a victory. That's the main thing."
Summers picked UNLV over Utah coming out of Laney College in Oakland, Calif., last winter so his performance didn't catch Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham by surprise.
"No, no, we saw him on film," Whittingham said. "He's a big, physical back. … We knew he was a load. And that's what he proved to be. He did a nice job against us."
Equally as impressive was the play of the Rebel defense. UNLV forced four turnovers, including three fumbles, and stopped the Utes on fourth-and-goal at the one after Utah opened the second half with an impressive 68-yard drive.
"I thought our defense was tremendous," Sanford, who got a Gatorade shower afterward, said. "I know we didn't play very well last week against Hawaii but our defense played very well against Wisconsin and played very well against Utah State. This is becoming a very good defense. You win games with your defense."
"We came out with a goose egg," Whittingham said. "Credit UNLV. They played very tough and very hard on defense. And I don't know what more I can say. We didn't do anything very well tonight."
Streakbusters: Rebels run over Utah, 27-0
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