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Rainbow Warriors crush bowl hopes for Rebels

UNLV Football saw its bowl hopes go up in smoke Saturday, Nov. 19 as it lost to the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, 31-25, in the Ninth Island Showdown.

Hawaii now has the Golden Pineapple Trophy until next year’s matchup, sending UNLV to a sixth-straight loss.

With the loss, Rebels are now 4-7 on the season and with the seventh loss, the program will not be eligible for a bowl game for the ninth straight season.

UNLV’s final opponent of the season will be a rivalry showdown with the Nevada Wolfpack as the Rebels look to win back the Fremont Cannon. The game will take place inside Allegiant Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 26 and kickoff is set for 3 p.m.

“You played one-way last week, and you play a different way this week is just something we got to figure out exactly where we lost it because there was no deviation this week at practice,” head coach Marcus Arroyo said. “That was very different than how we practiced all week.”

One thing that seemed to be a high point of emphasis coming into the game for UNLV was converting redzone opportunities into touchdowns. UNLV saw two of their three redzone chances end with fifth-year kicker Daniel Gutierrez field goals.

Gutierrez finished his night making four of his five field goal attempts along with making his only extra point attempt he faced all night. The missed 44-yard field goal for Gutierrez came with 9:12 to play in the fourth quarter with UNLV trailing 16-24.

There was some talk around the team about the distractions this week presented playing in Hawaii.

“There were a lot of distractions this week being out here in Hawaii,” Senior linebacker Austin Ajiake said. “A lot of excuses you could find. With a young team, it’s difficult to keep that laser focus. That’s what we’ve been working on all season. When circumstances get tough, we’ve got to be tougher.”

Ajiake will have one more opportunity to suit up for the Rebels in his career next week for the season finale against Nevada.

“It’s been a blessing to put this uniform on for the past five years,” Ajiake said. “All the guys I’ve played with these five years, I don’t take this lightly. It’s been an incredible five years and I’m trying to go out with a bang with my guys one last time.”

After holding a 13-7 lead going into halftime, UNLV was outscored 24-12 in the second half including 14-3 in the third quarter.

Hawaii’s Dedrick Parsons ran 19 times for 115 yards and 1 touchdown to lead the rushing attack while quarterback Brayden Schager threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns which included a 55-yard touchdown strike to receiver Zion Bowens.

UNLV is 0-4 when the opponent’s lead running back rushes for over 100 yards in a game and they are also 1-2 when the opposing quarterback throws for three or more touchdowns in a game.

“Frustration is an understatement,” Arroyo said. “We’ve got to execute. We got out-physicaled. They played better than we did. We got out-competed and that was uncharacteristic.”

On a positive note, the Rebels did return a fumble for a touchdown for the first time since the 2016 season.

UNLV also played a clean game in terms of penalties and turnovers.

The Rebels only committed two penalties and gave the ball away one time when sophomore Doug Brumfield was intercepted late in the third quarter. He finished the game with 288 yards through the air on 23-of-37 passing with a touchdown and an interception.

Receiver Kyle Williams was the biggest recipient on the night, picking up his first 100-yard game of the season. He racked up 111 yards on five receptions.

Fellow receiver Jeff Weimer also had five catches on the night for 54 yards. He also scored for the first time since returning from injury.

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