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Utes' record, points reminiscent of '94

10/24/2004 - UNLV Rebels Utah Utes

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- It took about 15 seconds for Utah (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) to
show UNLV there would be no upset Saturday night.

That's how long it took Morgan Scalley to run 90 yards off a
reverse on the opening kickoff in the Utes' 63-28 victory over the
Rebels on Saturday night in a steady rain and temperatures in the
40s.

"I think it was very important because a team like that, they
can be scary if you them hope," said Alex Smith, who threw three
touchdown passes and ran 70 yards for another score. "Mentally, it
just took them out of it right away. It's tough to come back from
that."

There was no danger of Utah (7-0, 3-0 Mountain West) letting the
Rebels get overly optimistic. From the time Scalley took a pitch
from Bo Nagahi that went unnoticed and sprinted down the right
sideline, Utah dominated.

The Utes reached their highest point total in 10 years and
improved to 7-0 for the fourth time in school history.

Utah put on a show with a representative from the Liberty Bowl
looking on, but the Utes are aiming higher than a second straight
trip to Memphis as conference champ. Utah wants a Bowl Championship
Series berth and just might get it if it continues to win like
this.

"If we're 2-5, there's probably maybe a little reason to lose
focus. But not at 7-0. Not with this football team. Not with the
leaders and coaching staff," said Scalley, who also had one of two
interceptions for Utah.

The Utes forced four turnovers, blocked two punts -- including
one for a touchdown -- and scored their most points since running up
66 while shutting out Division I-AA Idaho State in 1994, which was
the last time they were 7-0.

"Their opening kickoff was a great play and their team just
outplayed us," UNLV coach John Robinson said.

Dominique Dorsey ran 24 times for 179 yards and two touchdowns
for the Rebels (2-6, 1-3), who have lost nine of the 10 meetings
with Utah. Shane Steichen scored on a 25-yard run on a
fourth-and-inches, but it was well after the game was decided.

As bad as it was Saturday, it wasn't the most points UNLV has
allowed to Utah in the series. Utah, which took a knee on
fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 23 seconds left, beat the Rebels
69-28 in 1981.

"They are a national championship-caliber team -- and some
people will question that," said Robinson, who won a national
title while coaching Southern California in 1978. "They are
playing good football and are as good as any team in the nation."

Utah had five touchdowns before a minute was up in the second
quarter, then kept on scoring even after letting up on offense in
the miserable conditions. Defensive lineman Steve Fafita returned
an interception 6 yards for a touchdown, Utah recovered a fumble at
the UNLV 7 to set up another easy score and Shaun Harper recovered
a blocked punt in the end zone with 14 seconds left in the third
quarter.

Smith left the game in the third after completing 11 of 19
passes for 147 yards. He also ran nine times for 77 yards,
including a 70-yarder that put the Utes up 28-7 late in the first
quarter.

Smith faked a handoff, then took off down the left sideline for
his eighth rushing touchdown of the season. He cut inside and spun
around defensive end Mario Hill, then made another move that
stopped cornerback Charles Ealy cold and continued with his long
stride the rest of the way for the score.

"It seemed like no one knew I had the ball," Smith said.

With the artificial turf and ball both slick with rain, the Utes
avoided relying on the offense to push through the uncomfortable
conditions. They surprised the Rebels with a reverse on the opening
kick that established the tone for the night.

Nagahi fielded the ball deep in the Utah end zone and pitched it
to Scalley at the 10. As Nagahi was getting clothes-lined in front
of the Utah bench, Scalley was turning the corner on the other side
of the field and made it to the end zone untouched just 15 seconds
into the game.

UNLV cornerback Ruschard Dodd-Masters was so sure Nagahi still
had the ball that he started to come onto the field, thinking the
play was dead before Scalley sprinted past.

"It was great. They still thought I had the ball but Morgan had
it," Nagahi said. "When I got up after they tackled me, I saw
Morgan going for the end zone. It was the greatest feeling -- the
best thing ever."

The Utes forced the Rebels to punt on the next series and Grady
Marshall blocked the kick and Utah recovered at the 27. Smith hit
Steve Savoy on first down for another touchdown with 11:40 still
left in the opening quarter. Savoy added a 29-yard scoring run in
the second quarter.

Smith also had an 18-yard touchdown pass to Travis LaTendresse
in the first quarter to put Utah up 21-0.