In the 48th meeting of the Fremont Cannon Rivalry Game, UNLV started the game from behind with an injury to sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield and an early 13-0 deficit to UNR.
However, backup sophomore quarterback Harrison Bailey and the resilient UNLV defense led the Rebels to a 27-22 come-from-behind victory against their in-state rival.
“Harrison came in and stepped up big time,” UNLV head coach Marcus Arroyo said. “They believed, and that’s a big deal in overcoming adversity. And pushing through is all we’ve tried to set forth with the group.”
With 6:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, Bailey threw a 30-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Nick Williams to give the Rebels a 27-16 lead.
UNR led a late comeback to make the score 27-22. The Wolf Pack had the ball on the Rebels’ 3-yard line on fourth-and-goal with 11 seconds to go. With the game on the line, sophomore defensive back Jonathan Baldwin deflected the pass to get the goal-line stop.
Baldwin’s goalline deflection ended UNLV’s six-game losing streak and gives the Rebels a slim chance to make a bowl game as a 5-7 team if there are not enough bowl eligible (6-6) teams to fill all the bowl slots.
The win also brings back the Fremont Cannon to UNLV for the first time since 2019 and under Arroyo.
“(The Fremont Cannon) has a legacy behind it,” Arroyo said. “It’s got a legacy for each team. It’s got a community behind it. It’s got people, it’s got, alumni. It’s got the city, it’s got a community, it’s got a lot of power in college football.”
For most of the first quarter, UNR controlled the game in all three phases. The Wolf Pack forced UNLV to go three and out and then blocked UNLV’s punt to get excellent field position. UNR scored a field goal to get a 3-0 lead.
With the UNLV offense struggling, UNR put together a six-play drive which led to a UNR field goal to make the game 6-0.
After the Rebels starting quarterback, sophomore Doug Brumfield, reaggravated a back injury during the first two drives, Arroyo put in Bailey.
“Doug’s back went out, and random, a little bit of a flare-up from a hit the same flare-up last year,” Arroyo said.
The UNLV offense could not get a first down in Bailey’s first drive. The Wolf Pack offense found the end zone with a 75-yard touchdown pass from fifth-year quarterback Nathan Cox to fifth-year wide receiver BJ Casteel to make the score 13-0.
UNR allowed UNLV to get back into the game with two risky plays that backfired on them. The first risky play was an unsuccessful onside kick after their 75-yard touchdown pass.
The second was a muffed reverse pitch in their next drive that led Baldwin to get an easy fumble recovery and he returned it for a touchdown to make the game 13-7 on the last play of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Bailey showed off his arm with a 49-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Kyle Williams to give the Rebels a 14-13 lead with 11:32 left in the half.
“The first drive shook me up with the three and out, but after that, the offensive line pulled me aside and said that we got you,” Bailey said, “I know this as a group I can lean on. This is a group we’ve always leaned on and the group that’s going to get it done.”
The Rebels finished the half on a good note with an eight-play 77-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal by sixth-year kicker Daniel Gutierrez to make the score 17-13.
In the third quarter, Bailey threw an interception that led UNR to have a short field. UNR only had a four-play nine-yard drive, but it was enough for a 40-yard field goal to make it a three-point game.
With 4:39 left in the third quarter, Baldwin created his second takeaway of the game by intercepting Cox.
“I just knew that I had to fight from our brothers four quarters,” Baldwin said, “My main goal was to set the tone for the next season for the underclassmen as well.”
In UNLV’s first drive in the fourth quarter, the Rebels extended their lead to four with a seven-play 28-yard drive that led to a 41-yard field goal.
Cox struggled in the fourth quarter, throwing another interception to junior defensive back B.J. Harris.
Bailey’s pass to Williams gave UNLV an 11-point lead, but UNR wasn’t going away. The Wolf Pack put together a 12-play 75-yard touchdown drive to make the score 27-22 with 2:28 remaining. However, their two-point conversion was unsuccessful.
The Wolf Pack forced the Rebels to punt with 2:05 remaining in the game.
In the Wolf Pack’s final drive of the game, they got the ball on the three-yard line first-and-goal with 21 seconds to go. With the first three passes incomplete, it was fourth down with 11 seconds to go. With the game on the line, the Rebels got the goal line stop to change the color of the Fremont Cannon from UNR blue to scarlet and gray.
The premier players for the Rebels include Bailey, who finished the day with 209 yards passing along with two touchdowns and an interception.
In addition, Nick Williams and Kyle Williams scored a touchdown and combined for nine receptions and 160 yards. Junior running back Aidan Robbins finished the game with 87 yards on 20 carries.
On defense, the difference maker of the game was Baldwin, who finished the day with two takeaways, eight tackles, and two pass breakups, including the break-up that ended the game.
In the final game of his UNLV career, Guitierrez finished the game by making both of his two field goals. He is now the school’s all-time leader in made field goals (55).
UNLV football will paint the Fremont Cannon Scarlet and Gray at the Student Union on Monday at 11:30 a.m.