Rebels open with win over Aggies, 27-17

Eight straight losses was enough for UNLV's football team which kicked off the 40th anniversary season of Rebel football with a convincing 27-17 win over Utah State on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

It was UNLV's first victory in almost a year dating back to a 27-0 blanking of Utah on Sept. 12, 2007 at Sam Boyd Stadium and snapped an eight-game losing streak.

Sophomore quarterback Omar Clayton led the way, completing 17 of 29 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns, including two to junior Ryan Wolfe, who had a game-high seven passes for 103 yards. Senior running back Frank "The Tank" Summers added 87 yards on 14 carries.

"Overall it was a great way to start off the season," UNLV coach Mike Sanford said. "It's great to walk out of this building with a win," Summers said. "But to be honest, this win doesn't mean too much to me. I'm not jumping for joy. We've got a long season ahead of us. It's not the beginning of the world and it's not the end of the world. It's just a stepping stone."

Still, there were plenty of positives for UNLV to build on.

The Rebels didn't turn the ball over in the contest while winning the turnover battle, 2-0. UNLV was also flagged for just four penalties for 30 yards and was a perfect three-for-three on red zone scoring chances including two touchdowns.

And true freshman wide receiver Phillip Payne of Western High School was dazzling in his college debut, catching four passes for 52 yards including a seven-yard touchdown reception that broke a 7-7 tie and gave the Rebels the lead for good.

Payne also had a nasty crackback block on an Aggie who was chasing Clayton along the sideline that was one of the hits of the game.

"It was a great win," UNLV coach Mike Sanford, who improved to 3-1 in season openers, said. "I thought we showed a lot of class. I thought we showed a lot of discipline.

"I think the big plus … is we had no turnovers. … That's a great job by Omar and our offense in protecting the football which is one of the keys we've got to do to win. I thought our offense really executed well and moved the ball well in the first half. We did not put them away like we should have in the second half. To me you've got to be able to put a team away like that. … We had some chances to put the ball away and didn't."

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