The losing streak for the UNLV Rebels continued on Veteran’s Day as the team suffered just its second loss at home all season.
UNLV was defeated by Fresno State, 37-27, Friday, Nov. 11 from Allegiant Stadium. With the loss, the team dropped its fifth straight game.
“This [season] is much bigger than [the next] two games,” head coach Marcus Arroyo said. “But these two games are big. I think you’re going to look back at the whole thing and say, ‘Have you improved? What’s your culture like? Where can you make gains and where can you improve?’”
After starting the year with four wins in their first five games, the Rebels are now 4-6 and need to win their final two remaining games in order to become bowl-eligible. UNLV has not been bowl-eligible since the 2013 season.
The team’s final two games will be played against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and in-state rival Nevada - Reno Wolf Pack.
“Really important,” Arroyo said in regards to the team still controlling its own destiny. “Playing at the end of the season when things matter. I know that’s the shtick everybody wants to write and everybody has it written in pencil right now ready to press play, I know how it goes.
“The slide, the five-game slide – we started 4-1 too. Keep that high, remember that, okay? These guys are going to finish, these guys like to finish, they like to fight.” Hawaii will be the next destination for the Rebels as they prepare for its last regular season road game of the year. That game will be played Saturday, Nov. 19 with kickoff slated for 8 p.m.
This year’s UNLV team is 1-4 on the road.
“Fresno State, that’s behind us now,” running back Aidan Robbins said. “We’re all eyes on Hawaii now. Just [time to] get back in the office, watch film, learn from this and continue to build each other up.”
Fresno State scored on a 65-yard touchdown pass with less than nine minutes left in regulation to regain the lead and sink any rising momentum for the home team.
The Bulldogs’ score came less than one minute after the Rebels tied the game on a 66-yard run from Robbins and added a two-point conversion on a trick play that saw receiver Kyle Williams find fellow receiver Nick Williams in the back of the end zone.
Neither team punted in this one until nearly midway through the third quarter. When it did, it was UNLV that opted to play field position while Fresno State turned it into seven points the other way. That score put the Rebels down eight, its largest deficit of the game at the time.
The Bulldogs never punted in the game.
“It’s got to be complimentary football,” Arroyo said. “When we’ve got to make a play on offense, we’ve got to make a play on offense. When we have to make a play on defense, the defense has got to make a play. Pulling together and doing that in crucial times against good opponents is pivotal, it’s the difference in the game.”
This game featured six lead changes, much of which came in the first half as UNLV was able to control the tempo with its rushing attack.
Robbins burst out the game with two first down runs on the team’s opening drive including a 28-yard scamper. He finished with 144 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. When it mattered most, Robbins was stopped on a 4th and 1 from the UNLV 34-yard line with about seven minutes left on the clock.
“The first one was a big play for a touchdown,” Arroyo said. “We had the right call in there and shoot, I’d take it back and do something different but the reality is we had a perfect call on it and they made a good play.”
The Rebels held two of their three leads in the first quarter, the latter of which came on a five-yard touchdown run for quarterback Doug Brumfield.
By the end of the first quarter, UNLV had rushed for 104 yards. By night’s end, the team had rushed for 219 total yards, out-gaining its opponent by 151 yards.
“I thought the O-line played great,” Arroyo said. “We rushed for what? 219 yards? No turnovers? And [the Bulldogs] brought all the pressure in the world, I thought the O-line played great tonight.”
Brumfield faced constant pressure all night from the Fresno State defensive front, finishing with 172 passing yards on 18-of-34 throwing. He also added 60 yards on 10 carries with that touchdown run.
“They obviously had a lot of respect for what we were doing,” Arroyo said. “There was a bunch of pressure. That’s the most pressure we’ve seen all season.”
Kicker Daniel Gutierrez netted a career-high five field goals, securing a school-record in the process.
“We need to finish those with sevens,” Arroyo said. “They need to be touchdowns. Fresno State had a game plan that was pretty aggressive.”