The Rebels headed to Bulldog Stadium to take on nationally ranked Fresno State, with hope early on in the game for their first victory, UNLV fell in the fourth quarter for a 30-38 loss after a treacherous battle.
Rebel quarterback (QB) Doug Brumfield returned after suffering an upper injury earlier on in the season against Arizona State. Returning to the field, Brumfield immediately got the offense to click against the Bulldogs.
UNLV snapped in the first quarter alone, securing a strong lead early on in the game. Brumfield completed a pass to Steve Jenkins for the first passing touchdown of the night and season. The 10 yard pass put the Rebels on the scoreboard 7-0.
Less than two minutes on the clock, Charles Williams made a one yard run for the second touchdown of the quarter giving UNLV a 14-0 lead. Williams went 69 yards on 10 carries in the first half.
The Bulldogs, coming off a win at UCLA, were thrown off by the Rebel defense and were held to a short field goal early in the second quarter. Shortly after, Brumfield left the field with a non-contact leg injury and freshman QB Cameron Friel entered the game for UNLV.
With thirty seconds left in the half, Bulldog QB Jake Haener found Erik Brooks for their first touchdown. Fresno ended the half with a two-point conversion attempt, but failed to get past the Rebel defense, keeping the score 14-9 at halftime.
Brumfield returned to the field to start the second half, instantly completing a pass to Tyleek Collins for an 80 yard run and touchdown (21-9). This would be the only scoring opportunity for the Rebels in the third quarter.
Before the end of the quarter, the Bulldogs managed to complete two passes for a set of impressive touchdowns to give themselves a lead heading into the final quarter. A made point after kick after the second touchdown and failed two-point conversions on the next touchdown gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game, 22-21
Fresno State’s lead grew when Haener threw his fourth touchdown of the game to a wide open Jalen Cropper on a 25-yard pass.
The Rebels were quick to respond with a touchdown of their own with a six yard run by Courtney Reese. In an attempt to shorten the Bulldog lead, Cameron Friel went for a two-point conversion of his own, but just like Haener he failed to complete the pass, keeping the score 27-29.
The Rebel defense came up huge on the next drive, as defensive back Phillip Hill intercepted Haener. That set up a Gutierrez 30-yard field goal, which he converted to once again give the Rebels a lead over the Bulldogs (30-29).
The back and forth battle did not stop there as Fresno gained back the lead against UNLV’s strong defense holding up, making it 35-30. The Bulldogs finished it off with a final field goal kicked by Cesar Silva.
Scoring ended for the Rebels as Friel fumbled the ball late in the fourth quarter, giving away their final possession of the ball.
UNLV may have fallen short, but proved their worth with a strong battle from start to finish including a combined total between both quarterbacks of 281 yards. Having taken another loss, the Rebels can certainly look at this game with a better idea of strengths and weaknesses.
Playing in front of his hometown for the final time, including 50 family and friends in the UNLV section, Williams led his team in both rushing and receiving yards. He ran for 102 yards and one touchdown and caught three passes for a career-high 96 yards, including a 50-yard sprint.
“I didn’t want to disappoint them. I put it all on the line,” Williams said. “It may be the last time they get to see me play in person because the next level is not guaranteed, so I wanted to give them all I could.”
The Rebels continue their road trip as they head down to face the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA) on Oct. 2 with kickoff starting at 3 p.m. PT. UNLV returns to Allegiant Stadium Oct. 16, following a bye week, where they will take on Utah State.