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UNLV found its answer … but just a little too late

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  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    UH cornerback Ne’Quan Phillips sacked UNLV quarterback Jared Lebowitz.

Questions, questions, questions: UNLV coach Bobby Hauck sounded off on a handful of them on a night when his face was as red as his shirt.

Such as: How could Hawaii get off the penultimate play in four seconds in a remarkable 37-35 comeback victory as time expired?

"I just put a stopwatch on it and don’t agree with it, but that was the timekeeper’s call, not mine" Hauck said.

How come officials refused to review it?

"They said they couldn’t (review), so that was their explanation to me … once the game is over, it’s over, so …"

And how was it the Rebels got flagged for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for removing their helmets after UNLV’s go-ahead score at 35-31 with 15 seconds left?

"We obviously don’t feel very good about that," Hauck said. "We don’t feel very good about getting two excessive celebration penalties on one play for two guys having their helmets off in a critical situation like that."

But the one that is likely to haunt him the longest in this 2-10 (1-6 conference) woebegone season was: Why did he wait so long to bring veteran quarterback Blake Decker off the bench?

It wasn’t until 12 minutes and 10 seconds were left in the fourth quarter, long after Hawaii had rallied back from a 14-0 deficit and assumed a 24-14 command in the fourth quarter, that Decker was summoned in relief of struggling redshirt freshman Jared Lebowitz.

Decker, a junior, who started 11 previous games before sustaining an undisclosed injury against Brigham Young, guided the Rebels to 21 points in the fourth quarter, leading scoring drives in three of four possessions for the 35-31 lead.

Lebowitz, who had played in just two games this season — the last two — and authored 32 passes, got the start Saturday in place of Decker. Another ex-starter, Nick Sherry, left the team when Lebowitz got promoted to backup.

Hauck said Lebowitz had a good week of practice and "Deck couldn’t practice a lot, so that’s what we decided to do." He also said he didn’t feel Decker could have played a whole game physically.

Lebowitz led UNLV to its 14-0 lead Saturday but thereafter wilted under UH pressure looking very much like an inexperienced redshirt freshman caught in the headlights. Sideline reporters said UNLV told them at halftime Hauck was contemplating inserting Decker in the third quarter.

But with Lebowitz "struggling to the extreme," Hauck said he finally decided to go with Decker in search of a spark.

Decker delivered, completing 10 of 13 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns.

Afterward, Hauck said, "I never point to anybody but me. So it was my fault not getting their helmets on them and that was my fault for not getting them (the Rainbow Warriors) stopped on the last play."

And he’ll undoubtedly wonder to himself why he waited so long in calling in Decker.

For sure the folks back in Las Vegas will.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@staradvertiser.com or 529-4820.

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