PROVO, Utah -- No. 21 BYU was in danger of going from the nation's longest winning streak to a losing streak in barely a week.
The Cougars rallied for a late touchdown and 2-point conversion, then intercepted a pass in the end zone as time expired in a 42-35 win over UNLV on Saturday.
"Obviously your nerves get a little bit going when you have situations like that," said Austin Collie, who had his sixth straight 100-yard receiving game for BYU. "But the defense pulled through and did exactly what they needed to do and we got the win."
BYU came close to back-to-back losses by allowing the Rebels to match them nearly score-for-score until the end.
Max Hall threw for four touchdowns and led the Cougars (7-1, 3-1 Mountain West) on a 74-yard drive to win it after UNLV had gone up 35-34. Hall threw a 6-yard touchdown to Dennis Pitta and then the 2-point conversion to Harvey Unga to put BYU up 42-35 with 1:46 left to play.
UNLV (3-5, 0-4), which gained 463 yards and converted 11 of 15 times on third down, wasn't done. The Rebels drove to the BYU 14, but a sack pushed them back to the 25 and Omar Clayton's pass to the end zone on the final play was intercepted by Andrew Rich.
"Even though it took quite a while, eventually it did hold," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said of the Cougars' defense.
The Rebels, who fell to 3-13 against BYU, never let the Cougars get ahead by more than a touchdown.
"There were times when we had it and they turned around and came right back. They're a very resilient team," BYU linebacker David Nixon said.
Collie had seven catches for 113 yards and set up BYU's first touchdown with a 75-yard return on the opening kickoff. The Cougars set up another score by forcing UNLV to punt from its end zone and partially blocking it.
Casey Flair, who needed three catches to tie the UNLV career record of 187 receptions, caught eight passes for 92 yards and Ryan Wolf had 10 catches for 136 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown from Clayton that gave the Rebels their first lead of the game with 6:49 left.
The Rebels answered nearly every score by BYU until the very end.
"We've just got to do a little bit more," UNLV coach Mike Sanford said. "I thought it was a very physical game and I thought we bounced back from a lot of very, very tough hits and came back and played."
The Cougars had the nation's longest winning streak until last week's visit to TCU. By rallying Saturday, they avoided a losing streak and won for the 17th straight time at home.
Clayton was 26-for-40 for 321 yards and a touchdown. He was knocked woozy in the first half and backup Mike Clausen had two touchdown runs for the Rebels. UNLV's Frank Summers also ran for two touchdowns as UNLV outgained BYU 463-454.
The Rebels survived a failed fake punt from their own 34, holding to BYU to just a 39-yard field goal by Max Payne to put BYU up 34-28 with 8:36 left to play.
BYU's kickoff went out of bounds for the second time in the game and the Rebels got it at the 40. On first down, Clayton found Phillip Payne for a 22-yard pass and Payne held on despite getting sandwiched between BYU's Scott Johnson and David Tafuna.
Payne stayed down for several minutes and Sanford fumed at the officials, wanting a penalty for a helmet-to-helmet hit. The call never came, but the Rebels scored five plays later and led by a point.
UNLV was coming off a one-point loss to Air Force and has lost four straight.
"We just didn't make enough plays," Sanford said. "Unfortunately, that's been a recurring theme."
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