Rebels take claim of Golden Pineapple for second straight victory

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UNLV's offensive line poses for a picture with the Golden Pineapple after being awarded the trophy after an amazing performance to help UNLV to a 27-13 victory. From left to right: Tiger Shanks (70), Marcus Miller (69), Leif Fautanu (79), and Julio Garcia (74). Photo by Kayla Faasse

UNLV dominated its oldest rival the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors 27-13 for its first win inside of Allegiant Stadium and the first home win in the Marcus Arroyo era. 

The night was historic with many streaks being broken for the Rebels and UNLV fans alike. For the first time since 2017, the Rebels took claim to the Golden Pineapple in the Ninth Island Showdown. 

The night looked to be a long one when Chevan Cordeiro took the top of the defense off on the first play. Things seemed bleak for UNLV, as Cordeiro went 79-yards for the first play from scrimmage to score a touchdown.

“You’re obviously not excited about it but at the same time, it’s only one play,” Arroyo said. “It’s a perfect example. It’s one play of a whole picture, you gotta correct it.”

To make matters worse, UNLV fumbled the ball on its first drive to start off the game. The defense saved the Rebels when they held Hawai’i to a field goal in which the kicker Matthew Shipley for the Rainbow Warriors missed. 

The Rebel defense managed to stop Hawai’i from scoring another touchdown the remainder of the day.

After the Rainbow Warriors missed the field goal, the Rebels offense made their way down the field and into the endzone with a 49-yard completion from quarterback Cameron Friel to Steve Jenkins to set up the first rushing touchdown of the day for Charles Williams.

In the next two drives, Friel threw an interception, giving Hawai’i a field goal. 

After both teams punting the ball back and forth and UNLV turning the ball over on fourth down, Rebel Ricky Johnson snagged an interception, his first of the day. UNLV capitalized on the turnover as kicker Daniel Gutierrez tied the game at 10-10 entering halftime. 

The Rebels’ backfield couldn’t continue to thrive in this game without their offensive-line’s dominant performance. They only allowed one sack this week after having none last week to help Williams on his 38 carries of the day, earning him 266 rushing yards, and three touchdowns. 

The defense dominated the rest of the game led by Las Vegas native Kyle Beaudry and his teammates Jacoby Windmon, and Johnson.

Beaudry and Johnson had two of the most impactful plays on defense at the end of the game. 

With UNLV up by only a touchdown 20-13, the defense needed to shut Hawai’i down.

On 4th-and-3, Beaudry met and stood Dedrick Parson up down the middle, short of the first down, leaving it up to Williams and the offense to secure the game. 

With UNLV needing Williams to deliver, he bounced outside and sprinted into the endzone for a 47-yard touchdown to put UNLV up 27-13 to put the game out of reach with 1:49 remaining on the clock.

Quarterback Cameron Friel (7) hands the ball over to Charles Williams (8) to run through the Hawai’i Warrior defense during the Ninth Island Showdown on Nov. 13, 2021. Photo by Kayla Faasse

Hawai’i refused to lose its momentum with Calvin Turner Jr. returning the kickoff by 59 yards.  

Johnson had other plans for Hawai’i. On 3rd-and-10 with a minute left, the Rainbow Warriors needed to score here and now. After lobbing the ball into the endzone for a true 50/50 ball Johnson took the ball out of the air for his second interception of the day. 

As if Beaudry’s play didn’t demoralize the Rainbow Warriors enough, Johnson made sure their morale was down to zero to match the number on the back of his jersey.  

The Rebels then, for the first time in Allegiant Stadium, took victory formation and ended the game to take the Golden Pineapple home.

Williams’ Historic Game

Is it a UNLV football game if Charles “Chuck Wagon” Williams doesn’t break a record, have a personal best, or just in general dominates an opposing team’s defense? Well, it doesn’t feel like it.

Williams has another record under his belt after tonight, with 38 carries he shows he just gets better the more he gets the ball in his hand, breaking Ickey Woods’ single-game carries record.

“We got a guy who we believe is an all-down back who can play the whole game,” Arroyo said. “I think the thing that still sticks out to me minus his stats is his coachability. He continues to come to work every day and wants to get better.”

Along with breaking Woods’ record, he tied Mike Thomas for the second-most rushing yards in a game with 266 total rushing yards. This ends up being Charles Williams’ best game as he scored three touchdowns.

This season is special for the “Chuck Wagon” as he eclipses 1,000 rushing yards for the second time in his college career, and also breaks his single season-best in touchdowns with 13 (32 in his career). 

On top of all of that Charles becomes the first UNLV player to have 4,000 career rushing yards with 4,029 yards, which is fourth all-time in Mountain West (MW) history.

“Shout out to the o-line, they did their job today, had a lot of big holes, big creases set up for me…,” Williams said. “I helped them out by just making the right cuts, not dancing too much and they did a great job getting to the second level too, it was really me in the secondary a lot and I appreciate them for that. Shout out to the o-line they are the real MVP tonight.”

Arroyo Era Firsts 

The Marcus Arroyo era for UNLV football got off to a rough start, as the Rebels lost their first 14 games. 

Since Arroyo came to UNLV there wasn’t much to celebrate. However on Nov. 6, UNLV got its first win in 706 days, yet that win was not at home as the Rebels defeated New Mexico (31-17) in Albuquerque.  

After 721 days of not winning at home, and 378 days of not winning in Allegiant Stadium,  Arroyo not only got his first home win as the UNLV head coach but he brought home the Golden Pineapple from Hawaii for the first time since 2017, the edition of the Ninth Island Showdown.   

Head Coach Marcus Arroyo congratulates the Rebels as they head off the field for the locker room post-game. Photo by Kayla Faasse

“It’s fantastic, to stack another win, I mean that’s the thing I talked about last week with these guys was good teams stack wins,” said Arroyo. “You continuously stack good games and we’ve stacked good games this season.

“I’m excited about the work going forward, excited about this week but more than anything I’m excited about tonight and letting these guys celebrate [this win] safely.”

This is also Arroyo’s first UNLV winning streak, his first UNLV winning streak of 14 points or more against his opponents, and his first UNLV MW conference opponent winning streak.

The last time all three of those accomplishments happened at the same time was in 2013 when UNLV beat Air Force 41-21 and San Diego State 45-19.

Up Next

The Rebels remain at home as UNLV will hit the field for the final time on Friday, Nov. 19 at 8:30 p.m. for the Rebels’ last home game of the 2021 football season where they face off against the San Diego State Aztecs.

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