Brigham Young University
Oct 10 | 08:00 PM
59 - 21
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Sam Boyd Stadium

7000 East Russell Road Las Vegas NV 89122

Brett Pyne | Posted: 10 Oct 2009 | Updated: 28 Jul 2023
Brett Pyne

Unga Runs Wild, Cougars Crush Rebels in Vegas


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LAS -- Led by Harvey Unga’s 149 yards rushing and Max Hall’s 320 yards passing, No. 18 BYU crushed UNLV 59-21 Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas to improve to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Mountain West Conference.

The Cougars dominated from the beginning as the offense, defense and special teams all contributed big plays to the victory.

“I thought we played a good game and improved in a lot of areas,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I thought our running game looked really good.”

Led by Unga’s season-high 149 yards on 20 carries in just over two quarters of play, BYU churned out a season-best 291 yards on the ground. J.J. Di Luigi added 67 yards on only six carries as the Cougars averaged 6.8 yards per carry overall on the night.

“Harvey is a really good football player,” Mendenhall said. “He’s very consistent.”

Unga and the run game were not the only things that proved to be consistent for BYU on Saturday. The team scored early and scored consistently over the entire game to reach double-digit points in every quarter for the first time since 2006 and only the second time since 1982. The Cougars scored on their first four possessions and never looked back.

After driving 70 yards for a 28-yard Mitch Payne field goal on their first drive, the Cougars quickly increased the advantage to 10 points after getting the ball right back thanks to an athletic, one-handed interception by Jordan Pendleton. Reaching out over the sideline for the ball, the Cougar linebacker managed to not only bring in the ball with his left hand but also keep his feet in play to secure the timely turnover.

Two plays later, Unga raced 33 yards to the end zone for the first of his three first-half touchdowns. The MWC’s leading rusher added a one-yard score and a 52-yard gallop on BYU’s next two possessions to give BYU a 24-7 lead early in the second quarter. Unga’s 52 yard-run was the longest by a BYU back since Mike Hague ran 87 yards for a touchdown against UNLV in 2006.

BYU was leading 17-0 before the Rebels got on the scoreboard with a 94-yard kickoff return by Deante Purvis with 13:05 to go in the half.

Senior safety Scott Johnson joined Pendleton with an interception in the first half, his first career pick and the first of two on the night. Along with the two turnovers, the BYU defense held UNLV to 131 yards of total offense, while the Cougar offense racked up 309 yards in the first two quarters. Unga finished the half with 114 yards on 16 carries and a career-tying three touchdowns.

The nation’s top-rated offense in third-down conversions, BYU continued to execute on the critical down, making first downs on 5-of-7 third-down plays in the first half and 8-of-11 on the night. Tight end Andrew George was a key target, making third-down catches of 34 and 17 yards to keep first-half drives alive. His 17-yard catch was a highlight-reel, diving over-the-shoulder grab in coverage. The senior finished the half with a team-leading 51 receiving yards while totaling 61 for the game.

The third quarter provided more fireworks as BYU took a 45-14 lead heading into the final 15 minutes. The Cougars scored three touchdowns on their four third-quarter possessions with a 35-yard catch by tight end Dennis Pitta, a one-yard run by running back Jo Jo Pili and a 15-yard reception by Di Luigi. Pili’s score also marked the freshman’s first-ever game action for the Cougars.

The Rebels momentarily reduced the deficit to 10 points early in the third quarter after wide receiver Michael Johnson got behind the Cougar defense for a 75-yard touchdown reception. BYU needed only 1:40 to respond with the first of its three-third quarter scores.

Even after UNLV put together its only extended scoring drive of the game, a 10-play, 75-yard effort, BYU once again responded quickly to not allow the Rebels any momentum. O’Neill Chambers raced 97 yards on the ensuing kickoff before being knocked out at the 2-yard line. Reserve quarterback Riley Nelson took his first snap of the game on the next play and used his legs to complete the one-play drive to put BYU up 52-21 with 13:17 remaining. Di Luigi scored a 2-yard touchdown with 8:17 left to complete the scoring.

Hall finished his night with 320 yards and two touchdowns, completing 21-of-27 attempts while adding six yards on the ground. Nelson didn’t attempt a pass during the fourth quarter but added 17 yards on the ground.

BYU amassed a season-best 611 yards of total offense in the win while holding UNLV to 337 yards. The Rebels fall to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the MWC with the loss. BYU improves to 14-3 all-time against UNLV, including an 8-0 record in Las Vegas.

The Cougars travel to San Diego to face San Diego State on Saturday in a 3 p.m. PT kick. The game will be televised nationally on The Mtn.

Box Score (Final)


Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score

----------------- -- -- -- -- -----

BYU................. 10 14 21 14 - 59 Record: (5-1,2-0)

UNLV................ 0 7 7 7 - 21 Record: (2-4,0-2)

Scoring Summary:

1st 05:20 BY - PAYNE, Mitch 28 yd field goal, 12-70 5:00, BY 3 - LV 0

03:36 BY - UNGA, Harvey 33 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 2-36 1:09, BY 10 - LV 0

2nd 13:18 BY - UNGA, Harvey 1 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 8-64 3:40, BY 17 - LV 0

13:05 LV - PURVIS, Deante' 94 yd kickoff return (WATSON, Kyle kick), , BY 17 - LV 7

11:12 BY - UNGA, Harvey 52 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 4-73 1:47, BY 24 - LV 7

3rd 10:20 LV - JOHNSON, M. 75 yd pass from CLAYTON, Omar (WATSON, Kyle kick), 1-80 0:11, BY 24 - LV 14

08:33 BY - PITTA, Dennis 35 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 4-69 1:40, BY 31 - LV 14

04:41 BY - PILI, JoJo 1 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 7-76 2:38, BY 38 - LV 14

02:44 BY - DI LUIGI, JJ 15 yd pass from HALL, Max (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 2-58 0:35, BY 45 - LV 14

4th 13:40 LV - ANTHONY, R. 4 yd pass from CLAYTON, Omar (WATSON, Kyle kick), 10-75 3:56, BY 45 - LV 21

13:17 BY - NELSON, Riley 2 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 1-2 0:05, BY 52 - LV 21

08:17 BY - DI LUIGI, JJ 2 yd run (PAYNE, Mitch kick), 7-57 3:54, BY 59 - LV 21


FIRST DOWNS................... 27 17

RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 43-291 19-45

PASSING YDS (NET)............. 320 292

Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 27-21-0 41-25-3

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 70-611 60-337

Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0

Punt Returns-Yards............ 4-31 0-0

Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 3-150 8-214

Interception Returns-Yards.... 3-1 0-0

Punts (Number-Avg)............ 2-37.5 5-44.0

Fumbles-Lost.................. 0-0 1-0

Penalties-Yards............... 6-50 6-35

Possession Time............... 35:09 24:51

Third-Down Conversions........ 8 of 11 6 of 12

Fourth-Down Conversions....... 0 of 0 0 of 1

Red-Zone Scores-Chances....... 6-6 1-2

Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-18 0-0

RUSHING: BYU-UNGA, Harvey 20-149; DI LUIGI, JJ 6-67; TONGA, Manase 5-29;

KARIYA, Bryan 3-19; NELSON, Riley 4-17; PILI, JoJo 2-6; HALL, Max 1-6; TEAM

2-minus 2. UNLV-CLAUSEN, Mike 5-17; TROTTER, C. 5-14; JOHNSON, M. 2-11; COX,

C.J. 2-3; CLAYTON, Omar 5-0.

PASSING: BYU-HALL, Max 21-27-0-320. UNLV-CLAYTON, Omar 20-32-2-253;

CLAUSEN, Mike 5-9-1-39.

RECEIVING: BYU-TONGA, Manase 5-62; GEORGE, Andrew 3-61; KARIYA, Bryan

3-21; PITTA, Dennis 2-60; THOMPSON, Brett 2-52; CHAMBERS, O'Nei 2-27; ASHWORTH,

Luke 2-9; DI LUIGI, JJ 1-15; HAFOKA, Spencer 1-13. UNLV-WOLFE, Ryan 8-69;

JOHNSON, M. 6-113; PAYNE, Phillip 5-46; ANTHONY, R. 4-59; ROBINSON, J. 1-4; COX,

C.J. 1-1.



SACKS (UA-A): BYU-CLAWSON, Coleby 2-0. UNLV-None.

TACKLES (UA-A): BYU-BILLS, Craig 4-0; CLAWSON, Coleby 3-1; RICH, Andrew

3-1; BAUMAN, Matt 2-2; FUGA, Romney 1-3; BRADLEY, Brando 2-1; DOMAN, Shawn 2-1;

JORGENSEN, Jan 2-1; PENDLETON, Jord 1-2; JOHNSON, Scott 1-2; HUNTER, Shane 2-0;

DENNEY, Brett 2-0; ATKINSON, Jorda 1-1; BELL, Jeff 1-1; FRAZIER, Jameso 1-1;

HOOKS, Terrance 1-1; SO'OTO, Vic 1-0; FISHER, Steven 1-0; AGUIRRE, Lee 1-0;

MARSHALL, Matt 1-0; MEES, Carter 1-0; UALE, Travis 1-0; MENDENHALL, Zek 0-1;

LOGAN, Brian 0-1. UNLV-JONES, Chris 5-5; BEAUCHAMP, J. 2-6; ORTH, Beau 2-5;

MARTIN, Marquel 3-3; BLAIR, David 1-5; TEVASEU, Martin 1-4; MAFI, Heivaha 1-4;

PURVIS, Deante' 3-1; DE GIACOMO, A. 3-1; POINTER, Q. 2-2; DIXON, Travis 2-2;

CARTER, Nate 1-2; AAITUI, Isaako 1-2; FEAGAI, Ramsey 0-3; KRAVETZ, Matt 0-3;

RANDLEMAN, C. 2-0; WOLFE, Ryan 2-0; PAULO, Ronnie 1-1; BROGDON, Chris 1-0;

TAUMUA, Malo 1-0; CHANDLER, Will 1-0; DUNLAP, James 1-0; GRANT, Mike 0-1.


File Attachments

Anonymous | Posted: 5 Oct 2009 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Game Notes: Conference Play Resumes at UNLV


After completing its non-conference schedule last week with a win over Utah State, BYU (4-1, 1-0 MWC) travels to UNLV (2-3, 0-1 MWC) to resume Mountain West Conference play. The trip marks the first for the Cougars since their win at Tulane, having played three consecutive home games at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

The Rebels enter Saturday’s contest coming off a 63-23 loss to Nevada last week. Their two wins of the season came against Sacramento State and Hawai’i.


Saturday’s game will be broadcast live to a national television audience on The Mtn. Tim Neverett will provided play-by-play coverage, with Blaine Fowler lending analysis and Molly Sullivan reporting from the sidelines.

Neverett has covered three Olympic Games and reported on hockey, skiing, baseball, soccer and softball for ESPN2 and ESPN International. Since his career as a quarterback at BYU from 1981-85, Fowler has broadcast nearly 500 live college football and basketball games, for networks such as Video West Sports, the Blue and White Network and SportsWest before joining The Mtn. A Las Vegas native and graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sullivan is a former nationally ranked distance swimmer and ACC Champion for the Tar Heels.

The game will mark the third of seven BYU games available on The Mtn. during the 2009 season.


- With a win at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday, BYU will improve its 2009 away record to 3-0 for the first time since 2001. That year the Cougars posted wins at California, UNLV and New Mexico.

- A win would improve the Cougars’ season record to 5-1. Before its 6-0 record to open the 2008 season, the last time BYU had a 5-1 start or better was in 2001, when the program posted 12 consecutive wins before ending with back-to-back losses to Hawaii and Louisville.

- Counting Saturday’s game, BYU has played at Sam Boyd Stadium seven times over the past five seasons dating back to 2005. During that span the Cougars have defeated the Rebels twice and posted a 2-2 record in the Las Vegas Bowl against Pac-10 opponents.


The Cougars enter Saturday’s contest holding a 13-3 all-time record against the Rebels, including a perfect 7-0 record over UNLV in Las Vegas. Winning each of the past four matchups, BYU looks to remain undefeated under head coach Bronco Mendenhall. The two teams first played each other in 1978 in Yokohama, Japan, with the Cougars taking a 28-24 win in the Land of the Rising Sun. BYU then won six in a row from 1981-2001. In the last meeting between these two teams in 2008, quarterback Max Hall threw four touchdown passes, going 24-for-31 for 245 yards.

LAST TIME: BYU 42, UNLV 35 (OCT. 25, 2008)

PROVO -- No. 17 BYU started and ended Saturday afternoon’s game against UNLV with big plays and endured a hard-fought battle in between to secure a 42-35 victory in front of a sellout crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

BYU junior wide receiver Austin Collie made a play to open the game when he returned the opening kickoff 75 yards to set up BYU’s earliest scoring strike of the season when Andrew George hauled in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Max Hall with just 2:35 gone off the clock. The game ended with sophomore defensive back Andrew Rich intercepted UNLV’s Omar Clayton in the end zone as time expired to end the Rebels’ last-chance attempt to force overtime.

The Cougars and Rebels stayed within one scoring possession of each other during the entire game and UNLV stood at the 25-yard line when Rich intercepted the Rebels’ last hope of matching BYU.

Junior quarterback Max Hall led the offensively dominated game going 24-of-31 for 245 yards and four touchdowns, while Collie led the team with seven receptions for 113 yards. Collie set a new MWC record with his sixth straight 100-yard receiving game.


RENO -- Freshman Mike Ball ran for 184 yards and five touchdowns, Colin Kaepernick rushed for 173 yards and Luke Lippincott 170 to lead Nevada, Reno to its first win of the season and fifth in a row over rival UNLV 63-28 on Saturday.

Ball, who prepped in Las Vegas, scored on runs of 10, 1, 32, 4 and 89 yards and Kaepernick added 200 yards passing for the Wolf Pack (1-3), who never punted in the game that was 21-21 at the half. As a team, they had 559 yards rushing and 773 yards total offense to help overcome four fumbles.

Mike Clausen, filling in for injured quarterback Omar Clayton, completed 26-of-50 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown for the Rebels (2-3), whose last winning season was in 2000.


- Rebel offensive line coach, Keith Uperesa, was an All-WAC offensive tackle at BYU from 1974-77 and worked as a graduate assistant with the Cougars during the 1985 season.

- Rebels Daniel Kaanana (OL) and Kamu Kapanui (DS) both graduated from Kamehameha HS in Honolulu, Hawaii, as did Cougars Travis Uale (DB) and RJ Willing (OL).

- BYU wide receiver McKay Jacobson and UNLV linebacker Bryce Saldi both went to Southlake Carroll HS in Southlake, Texas. This is the third team Jacobson has faced this season that boasts a fellow Dragon.

- UNLV offensive lineman Thomas Wren shares the same hometown as BYU deep snapper John Pace. Both hail from Yorba Linda, Calif. and graduated from Esperanza HS.

- Two Rebels are transfers from Utah-based schools, including, linebacker Adam Gent (UVU) and defensive lineman AJ Lewis (SUU). Gent served an LDS mission to Las Vegas and his grandfather, William Gent, walked onto the BYU football team


PROVO -- No. 20 BYU kept its win streak alive against Utah State, beating the Aggies for the 10th time in a row, 35-17, on Friday in front of a sold-out LaVell Edwards Stadium crowd of 64,103 in the team’s last nonconference game of the season. With the win, the Cougars improve to 4-1 on the year and maintain the Old Wagon Wheel—which is held by the winner of the in-state BYU-Utah State rivalry.

Quarterback Max Hall completed 16-of-23 passes for 218 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. BYU’s 431 yards of total offense were split fairly evenly between the passing and running games, with the Cougar ground game adding 213 yards.

Harvey Unga recorded his second-straight game of over 100 yards rushing, totaling 118 yards on 21 carries, a 5.1 yards-per-carry average. The junior’s six total touchdowns on the year lead the team. Junior wide receiver Luke Ashworth, who recorded his first start of the 2009 season, led all BYU receivers with a career-high 90 yards receiving on five catches and picked up his first career touchdown early in the second quarter.


With the win over Utah State last week, the Cougars are 152-45 when nationally ranked in the Top 25. A ranked BYU team has won 21 of its last 25 games dating back to 2006.

The Cougars’ No. 7 national ranking in the AP Top 25 Rankings after back-to-back wins over Oklahoma and Tulane was their highest since finishing the 1996 season at No. 5. BYU entered the top 10 in the coaches’ poll following Week 2 after earning a ranking as high as No. 7 last season.


USU won the coin toss before the game last week and elected to defer to the second half. BYU won all four coin tosses prior to that game and is now 1-0 when losing the toss.


After a close 14-13 victory over the Sooners in their season opener, the Cougars have won nine consecutive games decided by seven points or fewer. Last season BYU pulled out nail-biters against Washington, UNLV and Colorado State.


Under Bronco Mendenhall, BYU is now 2-6 vs. ranked foes, with its wins being a 31-17 victory over No. 15 TCU on Sept. 28, 2006 and a 14-13 win over No. 3 Oklahoma on Sept. 5, 2009.


In the Bronco Mendenhall era, BYU is 36-4 when leading at halftime and 34-1 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.

Mendenhall’s teams have won 24 straight games when leading by at least 14 points at the halftime break, 71 overall as a team. The last time BYU lost a game after leading by at least 14 points at the half was on Oct. 10, 1987 when is lost, 29-27, in its homecoming game against Wyoming.


The UNLV game will mark the fourth of five night games for the Cougars this season, with a later start (after 5 p.m.) also against TCU. BYU is 2-1 in night games so far after defeating Oklahoma in its season opener, dropping the contest to FSU on Sept. 19 and defeating Utah State last week.


Last week’s win improved the Cougars’ season record to 4-1. Before its 6-0 record to open the 2008 season, the last time BYU had a 4-1 start or better was in 2001, when the program posted 12 consecutive wins.


Junior running back Harvey Unga needs only 32 more receiving yards to become one of only nine Cougars to record over 1,000 career yards through the air and on the ground. Unga currently has 969 yards receiving and 2,385 yards rushing.

Other Cougars who accomplished this feat are Curtis Brown, Jamal Willis, Lakei Heimuli, Luke Staley, Hema Heimuli, Todd Christensen, Scott Phillips and Fred Whittingham.


BYU’s starting five offensive linemen weigh in at an average 317 pounds and average 6-feet-4. The front five will be going up against a UNLV defensive front that measures an average 6-feet-2, 291 pounds. Defensively, the Cougars front three average 6-feet-3, 262 pounds, while the UNLV offensive line tips the scales at an average 6-feet-4, 296 pounds per man.


All-American tight end Dennis Pitta caught his first pass of the Utah State game with 2:14 remaining in the first quarter for a 6-yard touchdown, tying the score 7-7 after the made PAT. The senior has caught a pass in 35 consecutive games dating back to Oct. 23, 2004 (at Air Force), prior to his mission.


BYU’s 2005 recruiting class boasted four Timpview HS graduates, three of which are current starters on the BYU offense--wide receiver Luke Ashworth, offensive lineman Matt Reynolds and running back Harvey Unga. Reserve wide receiver Stephen Covey was the fourth T-Bird to sign that year.

As seniors the foursome led Timpview to the 2004 4-A State Championship and each received numerous all-state and all-region honors.

Ashworth earned his first start of the 2009 season during the Utah State game when he set career highs with five receptions for 91 yards and his first touchdown as a Cougar.

As the only returning starter on BYU’s offensive line, Reynolds earned freshman All-America honors in 2008 and continues to provide consistent play at the left tackle spot.

Since earning MWC Freshman of the Year honors in 2007, Unga has recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and is on pace to break BYU’s career rushing record before the end of his junior season.


USU was the first to score last week on a 6-yard run by Diondre Borel with 10:28 remaining in the first quarter. BYU opponents have been the first to score in three games this season, the others being Oklahoma and Florida State. The Cougars are 2-1 in those two games.


With the Cougars’ 35-17 win over Utah State last week, senior quarterback Max Hall now has 25 career wins as the starting play-caller for BYU. As far as where that puts him on BYU’s all-time list, Hall trails only Ty Detmer, who racked up 30 wins during his career from 1988-91.


The Utah State game marked senior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s 44th straight career start. During that streak, Jorgensen has started every game of his collegiate career and set a new MWC all-time career sack record at 23.5. His first career start came against Arizona on Sept. 2, 2006.


Junior defensive back Andrew Rich recovered a USU fumble with 55-seconds remaining in the second quarter last week. With the BYU offense back on the field, Max Hall led a two-play, 29-yard scoring drive, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by senior Manase Tonga.

The Cougars have now recovered six fumbles in their first five games.


Linebacker Shawn Doman’s sack against USU’s Diondre Borel on the Aggies’ second play of the game marked the first of his BYU career. Defensive lineman Brett Denney recorded a sack of his own with 13:12 to play in the second quarter, the sixth of his career.

Junior defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen’s sack against Borel late in the first quarter extended his MWC career sack record to 23.5. The previous record of 20.5 was held by New Mexico’s Michael Tuohy, TCU’s Chase Ortiz and former Cougar Brady Poppinga. Jorgensen recorded four sacks his freshman season in 2006, 13.5 his sophomore season and five in 2008.

Collectively the Cougars have recorded eight sacks in their first five games this season.


Junior defensive back Brian Logan recorded his second career interception on CSU’s opening drive, picking off a pass from quarterback Grant Stucker. The junior college transfer recorded a 20-yard return, setting the BYU offense up on the Rams’ 15-yard line. Harvey Unga ran in a 4-yard touchdown two plays later.

With 3:41 remaining in the first quarter, a hard hit by Logan jarred the ball loose, getting picked off by junior defensive back Andrew Rich. The interception set up a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Max Hall as the Cougars went up 14-0.

The Cougar defense has now snagged four interceptions through their first five games.


BYU has been unable to return a kickoff for a touchdown for 136 consecutive games. Mike Rigell was the last Cougar to accomplish the feat, turning in a 96-yard touchdown in a 31-9 victory at Hawaii on October 17, 1998.

The last time BYU returned a punt for a touchdown was back on Nov. 9, 2006 when freshman McKay Jacobson ran one back 77 yards. Thirty-four games have passed since then.