Looking to hold onto Cannon

RENO " Nevada has two goals every year " win the Western Athletic Conference and beat in-state rival UNLV.

The UNLV game is so important that Nevada coach Chris Ault always schedules a bye the week before, which gives him plenty of time to get his players whipped into a frenzy.

The instate rivals clash Saturday night (7:05 p.m./ESPN Radio 630AM) at Sam Boyd Stadium, as Nevada seeks to extend its winning streak to four straight in the 34th annual battle for the Fremont Cannon, the largest rivalry trophy in the country.

The cannon is a replica of a gun that Capt. John C. Fremont took on his trip through Oregon, Nevada and California in 1843-44. The replica cannon, according to Nevada officials, was reconstructed in 1970 as the gift of the Nevada Mines Division of Kennecott Copper Corporation to the two campuses in Nevada.

Nevada holds an 18-15 edge in the rivalry, and neither Ault or the players wants to see the Pack's streak end.

"This is talked about as the championship for the state of Nevada," Ault said earlier this week. "We have no plans on letting it (the cannon) go. This game is easy to get up for. If players can't get up for this game, I don't want them out here."

There are a handful of senior players, including center Dominic Green, wide receiver Mike McCoy, guard Greg Hall, linebacker Josh Mauga, wide receiver Andy McIntosh, defensive tackle Mundrae Clifton, safety Uche Anyanwu, guard Brad Eskew, running back Luke Lippincott, wide receiver Marko Mitchell, kicker Brett Jaekle and linebacker Jerome Johnson that have never lost to the Rebels.

"It means a lot," said Green, a fifth-year senior. "I haven't lost to them (since I started playing). I don't want to be part of that group that ends up losing. A lot of guys feel the same way."

"It's the biggest game of the year for us," said McCoy. "That's why there is always a bye in front of this game. It gives us the best shot we can get (to win)."

Green admitted that it was tough to get his younger teammates during the bye week because there was "nothing to shoot for at the end of the week.

"I sat down with guys I played with before. Jimmy Wadhams (former Nevada center) and he told me to make sure we get this thing done. They (UNLV) are going to be ready. We just have to stick to our game plan. This is a fun game and a great environment."

Notes: The cannon will be taken apart and will travel by truck to Las Vegas, according to Jason Martin, the Pack's assistant equipment manager. Martin said the cannon will be re-assembled upon arrival in Las Vegas ... Nevada has outscored UNLV 80-37 in the last three years, including a 31-3 win in 2006 at Sam Boyd Stadium, which started the current three-year win streak. UNLV had won five straight over Nevada prior to the 2005 game, but Nevada had won five straight from 1995 to 1999. In fact, Nevada has two five-game win streaks during the series.

- Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281

NEVADA AT UNLV

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Sam Boyd Stadium (36,800 TurfTech)

TV/Radio: The mtn/ESPN Radio 630AM, pre-game at 6 p.m.

What's at stake: The winner gets the Fremont Cannon, the largest rivalry trophy in the country

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