Rebels unable to complete comeback attempt against undefeated Roadrunners

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Quarterback Justin Rogers (5) looks for an open Rebel to pass to during the game against UTSA on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Photo by Lucas Peltier // UNLV Athletics

The Rebels traveled to San Antonio this week to take on the Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) Roadrunners at the Alamodome but fell to UTSA’s top 20 ranked defense 24-17. 

UNLV found no success in the opening drive, only going 17 yards until it ended in a quarterback sack on Rebel Cameron Friel on third down. After the turnover, UTSA would go on a 92-yard drive led by quarterback Frank Harris, resulting in the first touchdown of the game.

The Rebels would answer right back as Friel would throw to Steve Jenkins for a 63-yard touchdown pass, Friel’s first touchdown pass of his career. Kicker Daniel Gutierrez would continue his perfect field goal record this season by tying up the score 7-7 into the second quarter.

UNLV would take its first lead in the game as Gutierrez knocked down a 34-yarder putting them up 10-7. On the next drive, the Roadrunners were forced to settle for a field goal after cornerback Cameron Oliver broke up an attempted touchdown pass on third down, tying the game at 10.

Under pressure, with the Rebels at third and 19, Friel threw his first interception of the game, giving the Roadrunners a chance to take the lead before halftime. 

With 21 seconds left in the first half, UTSA’s running back Sincere McCormick ran it in for his sixth rushing touchdown of the season, granting his team a seven point lead. 

With both teams struggling at the start of the second half, Harris answered first with a 31-yard touchdown pass to De’Corian Clark, extending the team’s lead 24-10. The Rebels, attempting to shorten the 14-point gap, were interrupted by a strip sack by the Roadrunners, forcing Friel to fumble the ball on second down.

In the final quarter, UTSA had possession of the ball, which was quickly stopped by the Rebels’ defense, forcing the Roadrunners to kick an unsuccessful field goal.

With the Rebels’ offense struggling to get going again, UNLV’s head coach Marcus Arroyo made a quick, but effective, quarterback change midway through the fourth.

QB Justin Rogers entered the game on fourth down, on his first and only snap he connected with receiver Zyell Griffin for a 9-yard touchdown pass, making it a one score game for UNLV. 

With less than two minutes left in the game, UTSA missed another field goal, handing UNLV one last chance to stay in the game. 

Out of timeouts and under pressure, UNLV goes for it on fourth down, only for Friel to be sacked by UTSA’s Clarence Hicks and DeQuarius Henry. The Roadrunners’ offense takes a knee, sealing the victory as UTSA continues its best start in school history with a 24-17 win over UNLV. 

By the numbers

Friel finished with 25 completions on 37 attempts, 307 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Williams finished with 48 yards, now 211 yards short of becoming the second all-time leading rusher. Jenkins ended with 114 yards on five receptions and a touchdown. 

UNLV was averaging 119.8 rushing yards a game, but was only able to put up 35 rushing yards against UTSA’s No. 19 ranked defense. The team finished with 351 total yards averaging 5.2 yards per play.

The Rebels will get a week’s rest before hosting the Utah State Aggies at Allegiant Stadium on Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. 

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