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Utah reaches 600-win plateau with defeat of UNLV

10/18/2009 - UNLV Rebels Utah Utes

LAS VEGAS -- The Utah Utes were much happier with the victory than how they got it.

Terrance Cain threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another score Saturday night to lead No. 24 Utah over UNLV 35-15, the 600th victory in school history.

"It's a win," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "Not really a clean game. We didn't play very discipline at times, very smart at times. But good enough to come away with a victory. We had 10 penalties for 110 yards and that is far too many."

Eddie Wide rushed for 111 yards on 17 carries, including a 37-yard touchdown run. Wide's TD run down the right side gave the Utes (5-1, 2-0 Mountain West Conference) a 20-point lead with 12:55 left in the fourth quarter.

Cain was 17 of 24 for 174 yards, with no interceptions.

The Utes are 600-418-31 in 116 seasons. Utah is the 39th NCAA team to win at least 600.

After playing four of five on the road, Utah will now return home for three straight there, starting with Air Force next Saturday. After the homestand, the Utes will be at No. 12 TCU (5-0, 1-0).

"We have to take it one game at a time," Whittingham said. "Conference play is just beginning. We approach it one week at a time. Anytime we play [Air Force], it been right down to the wire. We expect another tough game from them."

Omar Clayton was 23 of 44 for 223 yards for UNLV (2-5, 0-3). He threw one touchdown pass and two interceptions.

The Rebels have lost four straight, and since a win over Hawaii on Sept. 19, have given up an average of 46.8 points per game.

Clayton hit Phillip Payne with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 9:07 left in the third quarter, and Kyle Watson was 3 for 3 on field goal attempts from 21, 26, and 37 yards.

"[Our] offense moved the ball, but did not score enough points," said UNLV coach Mike Sanford, who is 13-41 in five seasons at UNLV and is feeling heat locally. "We had too many turnovers in the first half. I felt our defense for the most part did a lot of good things."

The Utes took advantage of their first-half opportunities, including both Clayton interceptions, building a 28-6 halftime lead. But UNLV made a small rally in the second half, but never got closer than 28-15 with 4:33 left in the third.

"In the second half, we did not play as well as we did in the first half," said defensive back Robert Johnson, who had an interception and a touchdown run after a fumbled interception. "We're going to have to work on that. We have a tough Air Force game coming up. The [Air Force game] will be one of the toughest games we will play this year."

Cain had two 6-yard touchdown passes and a 3-yard run in the half. His first TD pass was to Aiona Key just inside the right sideline of the end zone with 1:58 left in the first quarter.

Cain found Ben Hendy on the right side with 7:29 before the half to make it 14-6. His 3-yard run, which came with 5:17 left in the half, was set up by Johnson's fifth interception of the season, which was returned 31 yards to the UNLV 8.

The Utes closed the first-half scoring on a bizarre interception for a touchdown. Clayton was picked off for the second time by Christian Cox, who fumbled the ball in the air to Johnson, who then ran it back 70 yards for a touchdown.

Game notes

Johnson also had three interceptions on consecutive series last week in a 24-17 win at Colorado State. ... The Utes are now 13-2 vs. UNLV. In the previous meeting in Las Vegas, the Utes were beaten by the Rebels 27-0 in 2007. This was UNLV's homecoming. The game drew a crowd of 26,315, with many spectators rooting for Utah. ... The Rebels honored their 1984 team, which won the California Bowl after becoming the first UNLV club to reach a bowl game. The team's quarterback and former NFL star Randall Cunningham was in attendance.