LAS VEGAS (AP) George Naufahu ran 22 times for 90 yards and UNLV overcame four turnovers to beat Northern Colorado 13-12 Saturday night.
Mike Horsey’s third-quarter interception – the first of the season for the Rebels – led to a 35-yard field goal by Jon Leiva with :22 seconds left in the period, giving UNLV (1-1) a 13-10 lead.
”You can’t lose the turnover battle that way and win,” coach Bobby Hauck said. ”It’s the single most important stat, above all others. Turnovers lose you games. But credit to our guys for overcoming that, we we’re very fortunate to get the win. Everything else is secondary to the turnovers. If you turn the ball over, you lose. We’re lucky that’s not the case. We’ve got to be more accurate in our throwing game.”
UNLV barely outgained the Bears, 332-327, with 211 yards coming from its rushing game. Keith Whitely ran for 82 yards on 12 carries for the Rebels.
In just his second-ever start at the Division-I level, Decker completed 11 of 18 passes for 121 yards, while throwing one touchdown and three interceptions.
Trailing by one with 5:45 left in the game, Northern Colorado’s Seth Czapenski missed a 24-yard field goal.
”He pushed it right, that’s all I can say; the kid is going to make some kicks for us this year,” Northern Colorado coach Earnest Collins Jr. said. ”Our kids came in here to win the game. Our kids believed they could win the game. We’ll learn from it. We’ll grow from it.”
UNLV opened the scoring with a 5-play, 64-yard drive on its first series, highlighted by a 48-yard pass from Decker to Devonte Boyd. Decker later found Marcus Sullivan over the middle for a 5-yard TD.
After crossing midfield and feeding off momentum, the Rebels committed their first turnover when they attempted a double-reverse trick play and receiver Marcus Sullivan’s pass was intercepted by Courtney Hall, resulting in a Bears field goal.
Northern Colorado (0-1) tied it late in the third quarter, when Robert Holland rumbled in from three yards out at the 6:55 mark.
The Bears converted 2 of 12 third downs and crossed midfield just four times.
”We played much better, and tackled much better, on the defensive side of the ball,” Hauck said. ”All wins are a thing of beauty, but that would probably be only maybe in my eyes. Northern Colorado came in here and did a nice job of holding us down.”