Mike Liti (20) gains 4 yards as he is brought down by UNLV defensive back Mil'Von James (5), linebacker Matt Pattison (34) and defensive back Jay Staggs (42) during the second quarter. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
Oct. 28, 2006
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Brett Ratliff tied his career high with four touchdown passes and JJ Williams returned an interception for a touchdown to help Utah end a two-game losing streak by beating UNLV 45-23 Saturday.
Brent Casteel caught three of Ratliff's touchdown passes and Utah (5-4, 3-2 Mountain West) extended UNLV's losing streak to seven, beating the Rebels for the 11th time in 12 meetings between the two schools.
UNLV (1-7, 0-4) finished with 297 yards in coach Mike Sanford's return to Utah, where he was offensive coordinator two years ago in the Utes' 12-0 season. The Rebels had just 173 yards through three quarters and turned the ball over three times.
Rocky Hinds completed 25 of 35 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns for UNLV, but also had two interceptions that led to touchdowns for Utah.
Ratliff was 19-for-23 for 268 yards and had his first four-touchdown game since the Emerald Bowl at the end of last season.
Utah had lost three of four entering Saturday and couldn't afford another loss, especially with a weekend off before Colorado State visits on Nov. 11. After a scoreless first quarter, the Utes pulled away in the second and third quarters.
Utah scored two touchdowns in the final minute of the first half and three more in the third quarter to take a 45-6 lead. UNLV, which hasn't won since the season opener against Idaho State, didn't score a touchdown until early in the fourth quarter, when it was too late for any chance at a comeback.
Utah's lead was only 10-3 until Ratliff scored on a 2-yard run with 59 seconds left in the second quarter.
UNLV could have run out the clock and taken the two-touchdown deficit into halftime, but Hinds threw it on first down and the throw was behind Casey Flair, who tipped the ball right to Utah's Malaki Mokofisi.
Utah got the ball back at the 27 and Casteel caught a 19-yard pass from Ratliff for a touchdown that put the Utes up 24-3 at halftime.
UNLV cut it to 24-6 early in the third quarter on Sergio Aguayo's second field goal of the game, then Utah answered with two more touchdowns in less than a minute.
Ratliff threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Colt Sampson with 8:55 left in the third quarter, then after the after the kickoff Hinds threw a pass right to Williams, who had a clear path to the end zone for a touchdown that put the Utes up 38-6.
Ratliff added another 19-yard touchdown pass to Casteel with 4:01 left in the third and Utah led 45-6 entering the fourth quarter.