FRESNO, Calif. -- On a night Fresno State celebrated its football history, quarterback Derek Carr etched his place in it.
Carr threw for 412 yards and connected with Davante Adams on four touchdown passes on a record-setting homecoming night as No. 17 Fresno State beat UNLV 38-14 on Saturday for its best start in 12 seasons.
Carr and Adams set the tone against the Rebels (4-3, 2-1 Mountain West) with a 75-yard touchdown on the opening play of the game to the delight of a crowd that included a few hundred former players on hand for a pregame celebration. The Bulldogs (6-0, 3-0) equaled their start in 2001 when Carr's older brother, David, led the team to six straight victories to open the season.
"When the best quarterback to ever play here is your big brother and you can have both your names in a book someday that says you have records together, it means a tremendous deal to me," Carr said. "Not only is he my big brother and the best quarterback to ever play here, he's my role model. I want to be just like him."
That streak ended 12 years to the day before this game in an upset loss to Boise State. Carr and Adams made sure there would be no similar disappointment this year and have the Bulldogs in their best position since then to get that long-awaited BCS berth. The first BCS standings will be released Sunday.
Carr completed 33 of 46 passes, breaking Paul Pinegar's career school records for completions and touchdowns with 849 and 85, respectively. He joined Pinegar and Kevin Sweeney as the only Fresno State quarterbacks with 10,000 career yards passing.
Adams, who had eight catches for 221 yards, tied the school record held by Charlie Jones (1995) and Jim Molich (1942) for touchdown catches in a game. He tied the career mark of 25 touchdown catches held by Jones, Bernard Berrian and Henry Ellard with half of his sophomore season remaining.
"He's got a lot of natural ability," coach Tim DeRuyter said. "He's a very good player, he works very hard. Tonight they tried to play some man coverage against him, and when they did he was a handful one on one. Derek finds him and Davante makes plays. It's a nice combination."
Caleb Herring threw one TD pass and Tim Cornett ran for 49 yards to break Mike Thomas' career school rushing record with 3,158 yards before leaving with a lower-body injury. But UNLV had its four-game winning streak snapped. The Rebels haven't won five straight since a seven-game streak in 1984 when Randall Cunningham was the quarterback.
Any chance the Rebels had of winning this game ended early in the third quarter when they failed to take advantage of a short field after returning the second-half kick to the Bulldogs 45.
UNLV went three-and-out and Carr responded with an 11-play, 84-yard drive capped by the 37-yard TD pass to Adams that made it 35-14. The Rebels had no points and 89 yards in the second half.
"We felt like we a little bit of momentum after our second score going into the half," Herring said. "We were pretty optimistic. We just didn't come out and put points on the board."
Fresno State got off to another fast start, scoring touchdowns on the first four drives starting with the deep pass from Carr to Adams just 9 seconds into the game.
"If they want to cover us one on one, we treat it as disrespect," Carr said. "(Davante) loves one-on-one coverage so hopefully we continue to see it."
After converting a fourth down on the second drive, Carr connected with Adams again from 27 yards out for another score and Josh Quezada's 2-yard TD run on a rare play when Carr took the snap from under center gave the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
"It's what he does every week," UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said of Carr. "He's good. We had no allusions about who they were on offense. They made their plays."
But UNLV fought back, taking advantage of some questionable decisions by Fresno State to make it 28-14 at halftime. Shaquille Murray-Lawrence scored on a 77-yard burst up the middle for the Rebels' first score. Herring threw a 13-yard TD pass to Marcus Sullivan late in the half after Fresno State receiver Isaiah Burse threw an interception after taking a lateral from Carr.
The Bulldogs missed a chance to add to their lead late in the half when Carr threw an incompletion from the 12-yard line as time ran out when DeRuyter passed on a chance at a short field goal with 6 seconds remaining.