UNLV Football rallies, reaches goal line but fall in double overtime loss in opener
A fourth quarter rally fell a foot shy of the end zone as UNLV Football opened its 2021 campaign 0-1.
The Rebels were beaten by the Eastern Washington Eagles, 35-33 in double overtime Thursday, Sept. 2 from Allegiant Stadium.
“Disappointed obviously -- that hurts a lot,” head coach Marcus Arroyo said. “That’s a good football team, we’ve invested a lot to come out here and we’re not into moral victories. These guys know that we're too competitive, we’ve worked too hard.”
It has now been more than 640 days since the last win for the program.
“It’s really difficult, right now it’s really difficult,” running back Charles Williams said. “But as a man, you have to understand and learn from your mistakes and get better from it. We’re not going to dwell on this too long, we’re going to get back at it tomorrow and see what we have to do and get better, simple as that.”
UNLV will head to the road next to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils Saturday, Sept. 11.
“Offensively, we have to make sure we’re not turning the ball over,” Arroyo said. “We did some good stuff defensively, I think we did a really good job with our intention to stop the run but that’s a good football team throwing the ball as well.
“We got some good teams coming so it don’t get any easier.”
In the first half, Eastern Washington had multiple miscues that UNLV just could not take advantage of.
The Eagles missed a field goal with a chance to take the first lead of the game.
Not once, but twice.
“They did a good job, they did a really good job,” Arroyo said. “They had some good stops, had a couple of turnovers and kept us in the game in a lot of ways.”
The defense came away with three sacks and two interceptions for a program that forced five turnovers all of last year.
Eastern Washington would miss another crucial field goal to send the game into its first overtime period.
UNLV kicker Daniel Gutierrez had a better night going 4-for-4 on field goals with a career-long make of 51 during the outing.
“[Gutierrez] is the man,” Arroyo said. “He’s a huge piece of what we do, obviously you guys saw that in the announcements of scholarships. He’s done everything since we’ve been here to show us he’s ready for that.”
However, UNLV’s miscues of its own kept the game close.
After a 21-yard run from Williams, penalties turned into a strip sack of starting quarterback Justin Rogers.
Coming into the game, Arroyo flirted with the idea of using two quarterbacks in the season opener.
Rogers went 7-for-11, for 23 yards with two sacks and a fumble.
He was removed from the game after one drive into the third quarter.
“We felt like we were going to go back into it and give Justin another series,” Arroyo said. “And that first series coming out of [the locker room] wasn’t a fair assessment there with the communication and stuff that was going on so we were ready to make that move.”
Sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield entered the game for Rogers and went onto do some good things through the air.
“We just did a better job clicking,” Arroyo said. “We put the ball downfield a little bit, were able to play action a little bit and get the ball down the field.”
Brumfield connected with sophomore Kyle Williams for a 58-yard completion before the end of a 17-0 third quarter in favor of the Eagles.
Williams ended the night with 87 yards on six catches while the rest of the team combined for six catches and 53 yards.
That set up a 14-0 fourth quarter for the Rebels with Brumfield at the helm despite an 11-yard sack and delay of game to open the frame.
“That resiliency is something that I think that these guys are under-mentioned,” Arroyo said. “These guys are playing man, they’re playing their tails off, they fought their tails off to get into this situation and to be here doing what we do is different from what they’ve done. Their resiliency is something I’m humbled by.”
The first UNLV touchdown of the game came off a 16-yard run from Williams.
Williams finished with 172 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns after scoring four times all last season.
In addition, he surpassed 3,000 career rushing yards with the Rebels.
“It was more the O-Line,” Williams said. “They did their jobs and point of attack is all we talk about in the room. They did a great job and it was just great to see us getting a push in the second half. I just started trusting and hitting [the holes] more.”