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Some day, UNLV will beat Nevada in football, but it wasn’t this season

Some day UNLV will beat Nevada in football, but it wasn’t this year at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Nevada rolled over UNLV, 44-26, for its sixth straight victory Saturday night in the state rivalry for the Fremont Cannon.

Not that the result wasn’t expected. The Wolf Pack from Reno was a consensus 21-point favorite. It really wasn’t a matter of if, but how much.

One statistic from the game tells volumes. Nevada had 374 yards rushing and the Rebels had 80. Vai Taua had 188 yards and four touchdowns, including a 72-yard TD run, in 19 carries.

Taua missed last year’s game with a dislocated elbow. Just think what the Wolf Pack could have done with him. They won 63-28 without him as then-freshman Mike Ball from Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas scored five touchdowns.

Ball missed Saturday’s game because of a team suspension. It is a good thing Taua and Ball didn’t play together in either game or who knows what would have happened.

Of course, Nevada had senior quarterback Coin Kaepernick who was 13 of 17 passing for 124 yards and one touchdown and added 97 yards rushing and one touchdown in nine carries.

And that was a comparative off night for Kaepernick. The previous two years against UNLV he had about a gazzilion yards in combined total offense. Actually, it was “only” 797 yards and six touchdowns in those two games.

The Wolf Pack now lead the series against the Rebels, 21-15. Nevada coach Chris Ault is 13-7 in those games.

But back to UNLV beating Nevada some day. Ault, who has done a terrific job at Reno with a smaller budget than UNLV, isn’t going to coach forever.

At the start of the season, I figured Ault might only coach one or two more years.
The Wolf Pack could be undefeated going into the Boise State game Nov. 26 in Reno.

This is Nevada’s best chance to beat Boise State in about 10 years. If the Wolf Pack could upset the Broncos, Ault may want to go out on top. And yes, I realize beating Boise is a big if.

Also, When UNLV hired Bobby Hauck away from Montana, I thought he was a good hire. With Ault possibly retiring in a year or two and Kaepernick being a senior, I thought Hauck had a chance of ending Nevada’s total domination of the Rebels down the line. At least in some years.

Meanwhile, I never thought I would see the day when Nevada was ranked higher than USC, Texas and Penn State, three perennial elite national programs.

But the Wolf Pack team is ranked ahead of USC, Texas and Penn State this week. Nevada is No. 21 in the AP media poll and No. 23 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

USC’s football budget is so much higher than Nevada’s, the Pack’s budget would be mere tip money to Pete Carroll or Lane Kiffin.

Also, Nevada is No. 18 in the Sagarin ratings.

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JAYMIE MORRIS ATTENDANCE — Family and friends of Jaymie Morris gave her a surprise 50th birthday party at a tailgate Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Jaymie is the daughter of the late Bill “Wildcat” Morris and Vivienne Morris.

Since the first Rebel football season in 1968 when Jaymie was 8 years old, she has missed only ONE home UNLV football game with the exception of her college years at Nevada and some time spent in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Even when she was in Flagstaff, she commuted to Las Vegas frequently.

But more than making up for any home games missed while out of town was the fact that Wildcat and Vivienne (my cousin) took their kids to ALL away games as well for much of the 1970s.

Jaymie went with the family to Japan for a Rebel football game in 1978 and to China for a three-week trip with the Rebel basketball team in 1979.

Overall, I  know of hardly any others who have attended more Rebel football games in history than Jaymie Morris. Yes, there is Jack Cason. But who else?

First Nevada-UNLV football game: Was field goal good?

Talk about the “Twilight Zone” of college football.

I covered the first UNLV-Nevada football game in 1969 for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The inaugural game was at Mackay Stadium in Reno. I wish I could have seen the game.

OK, I exaggerate. I wish I could have seen the deciding play of the game. Actually, there was about a minute remaining in the game when Nevada’s John Barnes kicked a 33-yard field goal which lifted the Wolf Pack to a 30-28 victory.
The trouble was by the time Barnes attempted the field goal it was so dark (and Mackay Stadium didn’t have lights) that nobody in the press box could see well enough to know if the kick was good.

The stadium was enveloped in darkness and not only nobody in the press box could see if it was good or not, nobody I talked to who was in the stands could see if it was good, either.

But the officials called it good — surprise, surprise considering where the game was played. I couldn’t swear it wasn’t good, but I could say that it was, either.

Bill Daniel is a guy who had a unique perspective on the game.

Daniel, a product of Reno High School, was coaching at UNLV at the time. He had joined Bill Ireland’s first staff for the Rebels in 1968 as the line coach.

Daniel had played four years at Nevada and had been an assistant coach for the Wolf Pack for three years before coming to UNLV.

“It was getting darker and darker,” Daniel said this week. “The only way I saw (Nevada) beating us was to kick a field goal. We felt they couldn’t score (a touchdown). We tried to defend field position, but they got field position for a field goal try. When the ball was kicked, we on the field had no idea whether it was good or bad.”

Daniel has either coached in or broadcast nearly all of the Nevada-UNLV games. After coaching for four years at UNLV, he received his doctorate at Utah. He returned to UNLV where he was selected as the chairman of the Physical Education Department.

He then returned to Reno where he was on coach Chris Ault’s first staff in 1976. He coached the Wolf Pack for three more years, then was a broadcaster for 25 years.
Dick Trachok was the Nevada athletic director for that first game in 1969 after having coached the Wolf Pack for 10 years.

Trachok said, “Everybody said it was so dark, nobody knew if the ball went over.”
But Trachok amended that to say, Oh, yeah, everybody from the Wolf Pack saw the ball go over. UNLV kidded about the ball not going over.”

Uh, Dick, the UNLV folks weren’t kidding about the kick not being good (even if they couldn’t actually tell either way). In fact, some of them were rather outspoken about it. That first game was quite controversial.
Daniel said, “That was something that just happened. We just bit our lips. Ireland didn’t complain.”
Trachok said, “I thought it was nice the old school started out with a win.”

Trachok, retired and now the AD emeritus at Nevada, was quite gracious about Saturday’s game between the Wolf Pack and UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium at 7 p.m.

Despite Nevada being a consensus 21-point favorite, Trachok said, “UNLV has some pluses for this game. It’s not going to be a pushover. We’ll be lucky if we can get out of there with a win.”

Diplomacy thy name is Trachok.

A controversial play came in the fourth quarter when the Rebel defensive back Rich Logan, from Rancho High School, intercepted a pass.

I’ll let fellow UNLV defensive back Richard Pfeifer take it from there, “Rich picked off the pass. I was real close to him. I was peeling off to block for him and he was running right down the sideline and it was someone on the Reno side who was not in uniform who tripped him. He stuck his foot out and tripped Rich. I went berserk. I was really upset. I was yelling at the guy and I was yelling at the refs. The refs didn’t see it. At least that’s what they said.”

Despite that, Pfeifer is one of the most honest guys you will find.

Guess what he said?

“The kick was good.”

Pfeifer is now retired from Sprint and living in Las Vegas.
UNLV defensive standout Tommy Rowland said, “The field goal, we didn’t think they made it, but who knows? It was dark. It looked like it went off to the side.”

Rowland is in his 38th year teaching in the Clark County School District. He did retire once (officially) but came back immediately because of a shortage of teachers in Special Ed. And I thought I worked a long time (37 years) at the R-J.

Rowland was “Defensive Lineman of the Year” for the Rebels all four years he played. He lasted the entire preseason season for the Minnesota Vikings in 1974. But he left the team on his own to return to Las Vegas and accept a teaching position.

Barnes, who kicked the winning field goal (if it was indeed good), went on to become the head football coach at Los Alamitos High School, a long-time power in Southern California prep football.

New UNLV coach Bobby Hauck has undoubtedly talked with Barnes many times trying to recruit his players.
Barnes develops top quarterbacks and receivers every year at Los Alamitos.

Nevada has won five straight games and leads the series, 20-15. Before the Wolf Pack’s current five-game domination, the Rebels had won five in a row.

The Nevada-UNLV rivalry has one of the best trophies in college football — the “Fremont Cannon.”

The cannon was conceived by Ireland. I still remember Ireland saying he was going to do it and he did. Ireland went to the Kennecott Copper Corp., which donated the $10,000 to build the Fremont Cannon.

“Bill was a history buff, so he was intrigued by the cannon,” said Jeanne Ireland, who was the lady behind Bill Ireland while he coached at Fernley (six-man football), South Tahoe, Nevada and UNLV.

Ireland was a native of tiny McGill in White Pine County, where Kennecott was based in Nevada. While he was in college, Ireland worked summers at Kennecott. So Kennecott was a natural for Ireland.

“(White Pine County) was his home. He was very proud of it,” Jeanne Ireland said.

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