Rebels Secure Homecoming Victory with Late Field Goal
The UNLV Rebels emerged victorious in a thrilling 25-23 win over the Colorado State Rams on Oct. 21. The Rebels overcame an early 13-3 deficit and gave its fans an exciting victory for the homecoming football game.
Rebel’s kicker, Jose Pizano stole the night as he went a perfect 6-of-6 on all his field goal attempts and sealed the win for the Rebels on a game-winning field goal, propelling the Rebels to a 6-1 record, marking their best start since 1984 and making them eligible for their first bowl game appearance in a decade.
Maiava Continues to Shine
Freshman quarterback Jayden Maiava continues his impressive play since coming in for quarterback Doug Brumfield five games ago. Maiava has gone 5-0 since becoming the starter, leading the Rebels with his poise and unique scrambling ability.
Despite an early 13-3 deficit, Maiava rallied the Rebels and orchestrated a series of crucial drives that ultimately set the Rebels up to win the game. Maiava completed 27 passes for 353 yards, consistently finding his targets downfield while scrambling out of the pocket.
His ability to remain composed in high-pressure situations, particularly during the fourth quarter, showcased his maturity and development throughout the season.
Dual Threat Weapon
Wide receiver Jacob De Jesus also played a significant part on the offensive side. His versatility as a receiving and kick-returning threat was pivotal in the Rebels’ victory.
De Jesus tallied an impressive 120 receiving yards, often breaking tackles and racking up yards after the catch using his remarkable speed.
Additionally, he excelled in the kick-return game, adding 103 return yards to his impressive performance.
“I look at Jesus, having 263 all-purpose yards. Our entire team showed toughness and resolve…,” Barry Odom said.
De Jesus boasts the third-best kick return average in the nation, which was showcased during this past game. He provided the Rebels with excellent field position on his kick-off and punt returns time and time.
Resilient Defense: Making Key Stops
While the Rebels’ defense allowed some big plays, they stepped up when it mattered most. In the third quarter, defensive back Jaxen Turner came up with a game-changing interception, turning the tide in favor of the Rebels.
“A lot of people stepped up today that we needed to step up and make those plays. Coach puts us in certain situations where we have to go make those third-down stops and that’s what some of the people on the team did,” linebacker Jackson Woodard said.
Colorado State quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolsi finished the game with 21 completions for 235 yards and one touchdown, but he was pressured on crucial downs down the game that forced mistakes and punting the football.
The Scarlet & Gray Free Press reached out to Mike Walsh, Sports Director/Anchor for the Collegian, for his takeaway from the game.
Walsh acknowledged the Rebels being able to make key plays on defense and respond to CSU’s rushing and passing attack.
“They had a response to everything CSU had. Their speed killed us this game. They really responded well after a CSU big play,” Walsh said.
Special Teams Shines
Special teams played a pivotal role in the Rebels’ homecoming victory. The Rebels obtained a favorable field position on punt and kick returns, priming the offense for success throughout the game.
Kicker Jose Pizano and the field goal unit were undoubtedly the unsung heroes of the evening. Pizano broke a school record for field goals made in a game, going a perfect 6-of-6 on his field goals, contributing 19 of the team’s 25 points, including the game-winning kick.
“Think about the impact that our special teams made in that game in the return game, kick-off coverage, and field position,” Odom said.
“…We all push each other every day, and I think that’s what’s helped set up for the success we are having,” Pizano said when asked about the performance the special teams had.
Odom and the Rebels now set their sights on the 6-1 Fresno State Bulldogs, led by head coach Jeff Tedford. The Rebels will head to Fresno, California, to play on Oct. 28, eager to build on the momentum and keep its winning streak alive.