— UNLV Athletics (@UNLVathletics) November 13, 2016
Four quarters were not enough for UNLV and Wyoming on Saturday at Sam Boyd stadium, as the back-and-forth Mountain West contest needed three overtime periods to determine a winner. In the highest scoring game in both program and conference history, the boot of backup kicker Nicolai Bornand was enough to complete the Rebels’ upset victory, 69-66.
In what turned out to be a competitive and exciting football game, UNLV kicked off the afternoon looking like a team refreshed and energized after its bye week.
After making a change at starting quarterback just days ago, many wondered how Kurt Palandech would fare in a matchup against a defense that has been strong all season. The result was a line of 20-for-32 for 252 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air, with an additional 157 yards rushing and a score on the ground.
“He did a great job of leading us,” head coach Tony Sanchez said of Palandech. “I am proud of him.”
With the quarterback position under heavy scrutiny each week regardless of who takes the snaps, Palandech offered up the finest outing of his career, a performance that helped drive the Rebels to their most meaningful win of the fall thus far.
“I am just going to continue to make the most of the opportunity, “ Palandech said. “It wasn’t a perfect game, but we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
UNLV’s running game proved to be the defining factor in its win, as the offense utilized Charles Williams, Xzaviar Campbell, and David Greene to great effect. The trio rushed for a total of 217 yards, with a pair of scores from Greene and one from Campbell respectively.
After their crushing loss to San Jose State two weeks ago, many pondered on the current and future state of the UNLV football program. While the upset victory does not do much for the Rebels 2016 outlook as a whole, it at the very least provides an alternative to what fans have grown accustomed to seeing from the team in the past during similar situations.
“To be able to get this one against a really good team, it’s a big deal for us,” Sanchez said.
The Rebel defense, while letting up its fair share of yardage, was able to hold Wyoming running back Brian Hill to sub-100 yards in the first half, going into the locker room with a 30-24 lead.
When the Wyoming offense caught a spark in the second half behind the arm of quarterback Josh Allen, UNLV did not let the game slip away, but rather was able to consistently counter the Cowboy onslaught with points of their own.
Tied 52-52 at the end of regulation, the two offenses repeatedly exchanged touchdowns until the first possession of the third over time period. It was at this moment where defensive back Tory McTyer picked off Allen for the second time of the day to set up the game winning field goal the next series.
With usual kicker/punter Evan Pantels being stricken with body cramps, it was up to Bornand to take on both duties late in the game. After a timeout and a false start penalty, the senior was able to split the uprights with a 40-yard field goal and cap of a memorable night for the program moving forward.
“For him to settle down, move it back and drill that thing down the middle, it’s a really big deal,” Sanchez said.