LAS VEGAS Remember that two-game winning streak Utah State enjoyed at the end of the 2007 season?
Well, the Aggies can forget about it, too.
For the fourth time in as many years with Brent Guy as the coach, Utah State opened the season with a loss this time a 27-17 defeat at the hands of UNLV and an equally desperate-for-a-win bunch of Rebels.
Utah State started the game well, moving the ball with relative ease on offense and forcing the Rebels into punting situations on defense.
But after UNLV which, like USU, was starting a new quarterback and a slew of other new players settled down, the Rebels picked apart the Aggie defense with an efficient running game and a passing game that chose its spots to punish Utah State.
"They executed better than we did," Guy said. "And they did not turn the ball over."
Paced by senior tailback Frank Summers and junior receiver Ryan Wolfe, UNLV dominated the field over the final three quarters of the game and never allowed Utah State to mount a serious threat to reclaim control of the contest.
After the Aggies fumbled away their first scoring chance midway through the first quarter when a lateral pass from Setzer to Marquis Charles was dropped, the Rebels got on the board first when quarterback Omar Clayton connected with Wolfe on a 9-yard crossing route.
It didn't take long for the Aggies to strike back, though, as Robert Turbin rewarded Guy's confidence in the offense by catapulting his body end over end for a 1-yard touchdown on a gutsy fourth-down play to start the second quarter.
That play came on the heels of an almost-touchdown a few plays earlier.
Turbin took an inside screen from Sean Setzer and danced around a handful of tacklers before he dove for the pylon on the left sideline and was initially awarded a 24-yard touchdown. UNLV, however, asked for the play to be reviewed because the ball appeared to be coming out of Turbin's hands before he crossed the line. The review, though, showed Turbin stepped on the sideline before fumbling averting what might have been a demoralizing Utah State turnover.
"If we didn't get it in," Turbin said, "the momentum was going to turn. That was a score that we needed."
The momentum from that series didn't last long, though, as UNLV scored the next 17 points of the game to take control.
Clayton and Wolfe connected again in the third quarter on a 32-yard catch and run to make the score 24-7 with 9:44 to go on the period.
The Aggies, who opened the game with an impressive 130 yards in the first quarter, sputtered offensively for the rest of the game. USU gained just 86 yards in the second and third quarters combined.
Setzer, who threw for 123 yards on 10-of-17 passing before being replaced by sophomore Diondre Borel early in the third quarter, didn't get back into the game as Guy tried to keep the Rebels off balance with Dorel's running ability.
And though Borel did provide a spark in the second half, it was not nearly enough to overcome the 27-10 lead UNLV had built.
"We felt we had to have a different threat in there," Guy said of the decision to stick with Borel for the rest of the second half. "With his running ability, he really added something for us."
Borel finished off the game and led Utah State in rushing with 69 yards on 14 carries. His fourth-quarter drive ended with an 8-yard touchdown throw with 2:16 to play but came too late to turn the game around.
Utah State finished with 314 offensive yards, but allowed 353.UNLV's Summers had 87 yards on 14 carries while USU's Turbin had 34 yards and one touchdown on 13 rushes.