LAS VEGAS -- In what could ultimately be a season defining game for both programs, San Jose State overcame a UNLV game tying 49 yard field goal with 11 seconds left in regulation to down the Rebels in overtime, 33-27.
UNLV got things started early. A first quarter 12 play, 75 yard drive was capped off with a George Naufahu 1 yard touchdown run less than five minutes into the game. The Rebels wouldn't have much more to show for their first half efforts, though.
After a second quarter Nicolai Bornand 27 yard field goal extended the UNLV lead to 10, San Jose State ripped off 17 straight points. Austin Lopez booted a 30 yard field goal before SJSU quarterback Kenny Potter connected with Billy Freeman from 11 yards out and scrambled for another score with just over a minute remaining in the half.
The UNLV offense remained stagnant in the third quarter. The Rebels mustered just 33 yards of offense while the Spartans tacked on another field to make the score 20-10 entering the fourth.
Behind quarterback Kurt Palandech, the Rebels offense finally came alive in the fourth quarter. Palandech found Andrew Price for a 25 yard score to cut the Spartans lead to 20-17 then took the lead on a Devonte Boyd touchdown reception with 3:41 remaining. San Jose State answered with a 9 play, 75 yard drive elapsing 2:33 to regain the lead 27-24. 9 plays, 43 yards, and 57 seconds later UNLV sent the game to overtime with the 49 yarder from Bornand.
Overtime was ugly and brief for the Rebels, three plays and a blocked field goal were followed by four plays and a Tyler Ervin touchdown, giving the Spartans the 33-27 win.
Following a shaky first half where Palandech left UNLV fans sorely missing injured senior quarterback Blake Decker, he made plays on the ground and in the air to put the Rebels in a position to win. All three UNLV fourth quarter drives ended in points. For the game Palandech completed 15 of 30 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. He was picked off twice, both in the first half, and added 73 yards on the ground on 18 carries. His favorite receiver night was Kendal Keys who caught 5 balls for 84 yards, a season high.
Despite the offensive firepower displayed in the second half, the Rebels were helpless against the weapons of San Jose State on Saturday night. Quarterback Kenny Potter, returning from injury after missing the Fresno State and Auburn games, shredded the Rebels defense for 329 yards. Tyler Ervin had an atypical night against UNLV. Ervin entered Saturday's game ranking second in the nation in rushing yards per game, and tops in the Mountain West at north of 160 yards. UNLV held the senior to a season low 73 yards on 18 carries. He found another way. His 8 catches and 74 yards through the air are both season highs. Ervin scored a pair of touchdowns.
Both schools are back in action next week. San Jose State has a Saturday home date with San Diego State, UNLV plays at Fresno State on Friday night.