Sunset at Sam Boyd Stadium



With one game remaining, the Rebels are out of bowl contention standing at 2-8, but Saturday’s last game will be frozen in time forever, just like the rest of the memories at Sam Boyd Stadium. This was a historical game, as it was the final UNLV football game at Sam Boyd. The team’s overall record at the Stadium is 156-139-3, one of the few winning records the Rebels have.

The UNLV Football team moved into the 35,500-capacity stadium in 1971 after playing their first few seasons at Cashman Field. This stadium provided an optimal opportunity for the team to play in a stadium designed for football.

Photo Credit: UNLV

Many people will be glad to leave it, but others will cherish their memories. I, for one, didn’t think it was the most beautiful stadium at first. After seeing it from a different vantage point, working with Franchise Sports, and covering the team for a couple of seasons, I now cherish my memories here. The layout is much better than some stadiums I have seen.

The Rebels have gone 220-283, overall (home and road games), since they moved into Sam Boyd Stadium or the Silver Bowl, whichever one you want to call it. This is not a record that the Rebels want, especially considering only two coaches, out of nine, having finished with a winning record. Those coaches were Ron Meyer (27-8 in 1973-1975) and Tony Knap (47-20-2 in 1976-1981). Knap was the last coach to finish with a winning record.

There have been several high profile football coaches that have graced the sideline at Sam Boyd as a part of the Rebel staff. These coaches include current Syracuse Coach-Dino Babers, Raiders offensive line coach-Tom Cable, former Cowboys offensive coordinator-Scott Linehan, American Football executive, and current media analyst-Michael Lombardi, current-Navy head coach-Ken Niumatalolo, current Ravens defensive coordinator-Chuck Pagano, all coached at Sam Boyd Stadium.

However, the Rebels also have several on-the-field records at Sam Boyd Stadium. Let’s take a look at those that are still standing:

High Profile Players

Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics
  • Quarterback-Randall Cunningham (1982-1984) threw for a record-high 8,020 yards in his career with a 61:30 touchdown to interception ratio. His passing yards record still stands. He also threw for 413 yards against Pacific in a 1982 home game. This record still ranks top ten for single-game passing yards. The Philadelphia Eagles took him in the second round of the 1985 NFL Draft. His number is the only Rebels number to be retired, no. 12.


  • Quarterback-John Denton (1996-1997) holds the record for most single-game passing yards. Denton threw for 503 yards against San Diego State and 486 yards against Wyoming. Both were home games in 1996.


  • Former Running Back-Ickey woods (1984-1987) was honored as an honorary captain earlier this season at Sam Boyd Stadium. He held the record for second-most rushing yards in a season with 1,658 yards in 1987. He has the third-most rushing yards in a single game with 265 yards at Sam Boyd Stadium in 1987. However, this ranks as the second-most in the history of Sam Boyd by one yard. Woods had 265 against Prairie View A&M in 1987; he only needed 184 yards to break the rushing record in Division-I football. Woods ended up rushing for 186 more yards that season and became the first UNLV and Big West Conference player to lead D-I in rushing yards with 1,658 yards in 1987. He was selected in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and won NFL Rookie of the Year.


  • Running Back-Mike Thomas (1973-1974) rushed for the most yards in a single season by a UNLV Running Back. Thomas rushed for 1,741 yards in 1973, including rushing for a Sam Boyd Stadium record 266 yards against Boise State in 1974. He also holds the record for most rushing touchdowns in a career with 37, having 20 rushing touchdowns in 1973 and 17 in 1974. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins. He was selected as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1975. He played in one Pro Bowl in 1976. He passed away earlier this year in his home state of Texas at the young age of 66.


  • Running BackTim Cornett (2010-2013) still owns the rushing record in a career with 3,733 yards in 2010-13. He ranks fourth with 1,284 yards in a single season in 2013. He also rushed for 1,232 yards in 2012.


  • Wide Receiver-Ryan Wolfe (2006-2009) had a UNLV-record 283 receptions for 3,495 yards in his career.


  • Receiver-Randy Gatewood (1993-1994) was honored at Sam Boyd Stadium earlier this season. He had a UNLV-record 23 receptions for record-363 yards receiving in a single game against Idaho. He ended up with 88 receptions in 1994, holding onto the record for most receptions in a single season until Ryan Wolfe tied him in 2008.


  • Defensive Back-Marlon Beavers (1973-1976) holds onto the record for most career interceptions. Beavers had 17 career interceptions in 1973-1976. He also broke the record for most interceptions in a single season in 1976 with six. This record lasted until 1978 when Aaron Mitchell tied him along with a couple of other players in the subsequent years. Mitchell was eventually selected in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1979 NFL Draft. Finally, defensive back-Kevin Thomas broke the record in 2001 with seven interceptions.


  • Defensive Back-Ed Saignes (1981-1985) holds the record for most interceptions in a single game at Sam Boyd Stadium, having three in a single game against Idaho State in 1984.


  • Linebacker-Daryl Knox holds the record for most sacks in a career with 28 sacks spread out between two years in both 1984 and 1985. Knox also held the most in a single season with 20 sacks until Mark Byers broke the record by 0.5 sacks in 1994.


Photo Credit: SI.com
  • Kicker-Nick Garritano (1991-1994) holds the record for the most career field goals made with 53 in 1991-1994. He had made 21 in 1994. He had a couple of games in 1992 and 1993, where he made four field goals in a single game, tied for the most ever in a single game.


  • The most recent Rebel, to set a record at Sam Boyd Stadium, kicker-Evan Pantels (2016-2018), holds the record for the highest field-goal percentage. He converted 92.9% in 2016.


Moments Frozen in History 

It was a game during the current Head Coach’s tenure, Tony Sanchez (2015-Present). In his second season at the helm, his Rebels team defeated Wyoming in the second-highest scoring game in NCAA History. His Rebels won 69-66 in triple overtime. It is a game the players have said that they will forever remember.

In 1974 UNLV was a Division-II football team. With Glenn Carano at the quarterback, that Rebels team went undefeated. Ron Meyer (27-8 in 1973-1975) was the head coach at the time. Carano was eventually selected in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1977 NFL Draft.

The UNLV Football team is also 2-0 in Las Vegas Bowl history. These are the only two bowl wins that the UNLV Football team has in its history. Both games were at Sam Boyd Stadium. They defeated Central Michigan 52-24 in 1994 and then won their first-ever game against an SEC opponent in 2000 when they beat Arkansas by a score of 31-14.


Head Coaches with UNLV Records

  • Current-Head Coach Tony Sanchez helped raise over $30 million to build UNLV’s first-ever football-only facility, the Fertitta Football Complex, during his tenure. No other coach has been able to raise as much as Sanchez has raised for UNLV.

  • Former UNLV Coach-John Robinson was the national coach of the year in 1978 and was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2003 as he was the head coach at USC from 1993-1997. He owns a 75-68 record in the NFL and a 132-77-4 record in college. Robinson is also in the College Football Hall of Fame and is a current Senior Consultant with the no. 1 ranked-LSU Tigers. He coached UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium from 1999-2004, including being the Athletic director from 2002-2003. He is the highest-profile and most well-known of all UNLV Football Coaches past and present.


  • There has been only been one head coach who has ended their tenure with an overall winning record since UNLV’a first three head coaches in program history. Bill Ireland (26-23-1), Ron Meyer (27-8), and Tony Knap (47-20-2) were the original three with Harvey Hyde finishing with a 26-19-1 record. The best records since Hyde are Wayne Nunnelly, who went 19-25, and John Robinson, who went 28-42.


The memories of these coaches, moments, and players who graced the field at Sam Boyd Stadium will last forever for Rebels fans. 2020 will be a time to create new memories and begin the next chapter in the history of UNLV Football that will reshape the future of the program

Those will happen at Allegiant Stadium.







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