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UNLV 37, New Mexico 35

11/2/2003

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- UNLV could sense the momentum slipping
away and the Rebels needed one more big play from their defense.

Jamaal Brimmer was their man.

Brimmer intercepted New Mexico quarterback Casey Kelly's pass
with just over six minutes left in the game Saturday night and
raced 62 yards for the game-winning touchdown in the Rebels' 37-35
win.

"Usually we play soft and just try to hit and tackle," Brimmer
said. "It was just a good reaction play. I broke on the ball and
made the pick."

Brimmer and safety Joe Miklos led a UNLV defense that made up
for the Rebels' loss of starting quarterback Kurt Nantkes in the
first half. Nantkes suffered a groin injury late in the second
quarter and sat out the rest of the game.

Miklos recovered two fumbles -- one of which he returned 61 yards
for a touchdown in the second quarter -- and had an interception.
Brimmer also recovered a fumble as New Mexico turned the ball over
six times.

"We made way too many mistakes to win a football game," New
Mexico coach Rocky Long said. "We gave up kick returns, roughed
punters, had six turnovers and didn't tackle very well in the first
half. There were thousands of mistakes and that's why you don't win
football games."

UNLV (5-4, 1-3 MWC) snapped a three-game losing streak with its
first conference win and ended New Mexico's four-game winning
streak.

"We wanted to come in, create a couple of turnovers, get the
momentum and try to take the game over," said Brimmer.

The Rebels did just that.

UNLV converted most of New Mexico's mistakes -- three fumbles and
three interceptions -- into points, but it was the Brimmer's
interception that broke the Lobos' back.

New Mexico (5-4, 2-2 MWC) had cut the Rebels' lead to 30-28 on
an 8-yard TD run by Kelly and the Lobos were in UNLV territory
again when Kelly threw the ball right into Brimmer's hands. Brimmer
raced down the right sideline for a 37-28 UNLV lead.

The Lobos, who would have moved into second place in the
Mountain West Conference with a win, came right back with an
85-yard, 12-play drive, that ended with DonTrell Moore scoring from
a yard out.

New Mexico then forced UNLV to punt and took over the ball at
its own 20 with 3:00 remaining and no time-outs left. That last
chance ended when Kelly's third-down pass was tipped in the air and
intercepted by Rebels linebacker Ryan Claridge. UNLV then ran out
the clock.

"We had some great highs and some bad lows," UNLV coach John
Robinson said of his team gutty performance. "Even though they
(UNLV defense) were on the deck a few times, they kept getting up
and making plays."

Miklos hardly had to break stride in his second quarter return
of a fumble by Moore. Moore was hit and the ball bounced out of his
hands and into Miklos'.

New Mexico finished with 578 total yards, but couldn't overcome
its mistakes.

1`We got ourselves in a hole in the first half," Moore said.
"It's unfortunate when you play horrible and that's how we
played."

Nantkes was replaced by sophomore Scott Turner, the son of Miami
Dolphins offensive coordinator Norv Turner. The younger Turner
completed just 3 of 6 passes for 12 yards. Kelly, meanwhile,
completed 23 of 38 passes for 408 yards, but the Lobos could not
overcome the turnovers.

Moore rushed for 130 yards on 17 carries, the most yards giving
up by UNLV to an opposing back this season. Moore, who fumbled
twice, also threw a 21-yard halfback option touchdown pass to
Adrian Boyd.

Boyd caught 9 passes for 103 yards and Dwight Counter had 6
catches for 171 yards, including a 71-yard TD reception from Kelly.

UNLV's Dillon Pieffer kicked three field goals, including a
career-best 50-yarder with 2:24 left in the third quarter. That
score was set up by a roughing the kicker penalty on the Lobos.

It was a crucial win for a UNLV team that won four of its first
five games before slumping in October.

"Just for proving that you can win again," Robinson said.
"After losing three, we're back in the hunt."