Dual in the Desert
August 30, 2012

In a game in which neither team deserved victory, the Minnesota Gophers defeated the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) 30-27 in three overtimes at Sam Boyd Stadium.

UNLV’s Rebels lack a distinguished football history, fielding their first team in 1968 and having little success since. Last year’s Rebels went 2-10 under Bobby Hauch and finished 2011 under Hauck the previous year. The Gophers weren’t much better, going 3-9 in 2011, albeit against stronger competition, and also 3-9 in 2010.

Originally scheduled for September 1, the game was moved to 8 p.m. on August 30 to try for a national television audience. The result was an overtime contest that lasted well past midnight in Las Vegas, too late for the outcome to be seen by viewers in Minnesota.

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill didn’t release a depth chart and also had three punters, each with the same number. Two—David Schwerman from Kettle Moraine, Wisconsin, and Australian Christian Eldred, played. Eldred punted five times for 184 yards and Schwerman twice for 62 yars.

UNLV players weren’t above trickery themselves. Officials penalized the Rebels for using “disconcerting signals” on defense.

No trickery from either side could hide that this was a poorly played game. Gophers senior quarterback MarQueis Gray played with the grace and style of a deer caught in the headlings. The first 10 Minnesota possessions resulted in only three points. Rebels rookie quarterback Nick Sherry was intercepted three times, including one by cornerback Derrick Wells in the third overtime, which may have cost UNLV the game as it allowed the Gophers, in their possession, to win on a 32-yard field goal by Jordan Wettstein.

Minnesota had 30 first downs to 27 for UNLV and outrushed the Rebels, 209 to 159. Gray had 269 yards passing to 116 for Sherry.

The Gophers could manage only a 13-13 tie at the end of regulation play. UNLV junior running back slashed his way through Minnesota defenders for 131 yards. Gray led Gophers runners with 85 yards, primarily on broken plays.

In Minnesota’s next 11 games the Gophers will go only as far as Gray takes them. In the Las Vegas desert, he showed once again that he is not a complete quarterback.

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