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Nevada tops rival UNLV 37-19, reclaims Fremont Cannon

Nevada v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

For the first time since 2017, the Fremont Cannon is returning to Reno painted blue.

A career-outing from Nevada Wolf Pack wideout Romeo Doubs propelled a 37-19 victory over intrastate rival UNLV (0-2) in the Battle for the Fremont Cannon on Saturday night. Nevada lost its previous two meetings against the Rebels.

Doubs entered Saturday night with a career-best 167 receiving yards. The junior eclipsed that mark in the first half, reaching 189 on five catches.

He cooled off in the second half, still finishing with a career-high 211 yards on six receptions — including a 65-yard score. This marks Doubs’ first ever 200-yard performance and the sixth career game with 100-plus yards.

(STAT CORRECTION: Although box scores still read that Doubs had six catches for 211 yards, there was a stat correction that had Doubs with seven catches for 219 yards. His 219 yards are the most since Rishard Matthews had 220 in 2011. It is the 16th-highest single-game total at school history.)

He is the first Nevada receiver with over 200 yards in a single game since Brendan O’Leary-Orange notched 214 against San Diego State in 2017.

Nevada begins the season 2-0 for the first time since 2014 and is the Pack’s best start in conference-play since 2013. With the win, head coach Jay Norvell receives a $25,000 bonus. It is his second victory over UNLV in four seasons.

“It’s a great feeling to see the guys get the [Fremont Cannon],” Norvell said postgame. “Whenever we play for a trophy, we take a picture. The cannon is obviously the biggest trophy we play for ... It means a lot to us to take that picture and to be able to solute the fans.

“It’s been a while since we’ve seen [the cannon] down our hallway. We’re looking forward to getting it back where it belongs.”

The contest was held in the newly-constructed Allegiant Stadium, a $2 billion venue that is home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders. Fans were held to a three percent capacity — equating to a max of 2,000 fans.

The new environment had no affect on the Wolf Pack offensively.

They cruised once again, totaling 497 yards of offense. Carson Strong completed 21-of-27 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns. It was his fourth consecutive 300-yard game. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound gun slinger is now 60-for-79 (75.9 percent) for 770 yards and six touchdowns in two games this season.

Strong also extended his streak of pass attempts without an interception to 230, which leads the nation and is the second-most in Mountain West history.

After missing last week’s game versus Wyoming, running back Toa Taua unveiled a strong presence. Taua had 12 carries for 86 yards while backup Devonte Lee added 45 yards and 11.3 yards per carry. Both Taua and Lee had a rushing touchdown apiece.

Justin Lockhart hauled-in six receptions, tying the team-high, for 36 yards and touchdown. Cole Turner followed suit with four catches for 72 yards.

After a dismal 186-yard showing in its season-opener versus San Diego State, UNLV’s offense showed remarkable improvement. The Rebels totaled 348 yards and 22 first downs.

They did an excellent job sustaining drives, especially in the second half. They finished the contest 5-for-6 on fourth down conversions.

Max Gilliam solidified his role as the Rebels’ starting quarterback. He went 27-for-40 for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Tonight marked his first 200-plus yard passing performance since Nov. 10, 2018 in a 27-24 win over San Diego State.

Star running back Charles Williams had 99 rushing yards, one short of tallying his 10th career 100-yard game. The reigning first-team All-Mountain West honoree added five catches for 22 yards.

Tyleek Collins finished five receptions for a team-high 74 yards and a touchdown. Noah Bean hauled in a team-high seven receptions for 66 yards, while Steve Jenkins had 30 yards on three receptions and a receiving score.

Both teams traded field goals on their opening drives.

On Nevada’s second drive, a pass interference plus a holding penalty backed it up on its own 47-yard line. A 52-yard strike to Doubs negated the first-and-35 situation, followed by a one-yard score by Lee put Nevada ahead 10-3.

The first ever points and collegiate points were rewarded to Nevada.

Strong connected again with Doubs on a 65-yard touchdown strike — extending its advantage to 17-6.

UNLV answered on its final drive of the half. On a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard-line, the Rebels converted on a touchdown pass to Collins to trim the Pack lead to 17-12.

After driving 75 yards on seven plays, Nevada punched it into the endzone once more before halftime on a four-yard pass to Lockhart. The Pack marched into half with a 24-12 lead.

After driving down the field on its first drive of the final half, Nevada faced a first-and-goal on UNLV’s one-yard line. A false start followed by a negative three-yard scramble by Strong forced the Pack into a third-and-goal from the 9-yard-line. The drive resulted in a 26-yard field goal from Talton.

A five-yard touchdown to Johnson cut Nevada’s lead to 27-19 entering the final quarter. The Pack did not relinquish it — answering on a four-yard rushing score from Taua.

UNLV would not score the rest of the night. An overthrow to Bean forced a crucial fourth down failure on a fourth-and-12. Talton hit a 34-yard field goal on Nevada’s final possession.

Up next:

The Wolf Pack have a short week ahead of them. They travel back home to take on the Utah State Aggies (0-2) on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 4 p.m. PST on FS1.

UNLV squares off with Fresno State (1-1) at home on Nov. 7 at 12:30 p.m. It will be televised on CBS Sports Network.