RENO, Nev. — UNLV Football defeated the UNR Wolf Pack on the road 45-27 to improve its record to 5-1 and keep the Fremont Cannon scarlet and gray. The Rebels can clinch a spot in a bowl game for the first time since 2014 with a win against Colorado State at home on Oct. 21.
When speaking on the game, UNLV head coach Barry Odom said, “I’m thrilled for our program to be 5-1, 2-0 in the conference; that’s right where UNLV should be.”
The game began with the Wolf Pack taking possession of the football after the Rebels deferred the opening kickoff.
Nevada’s offense was led out on the field by junior quarterback Brendon Lewis. He looked to connect with his two senior wideouts, Dalevon Campbell and Jamaal Bell, but the Rebel defense snuffed out the drive with a quick three-and-out.
This was aided by a rush for negative yardage on the game’s first play from the senior running back Sean Dollars and a sack from Rebel defensive lineman Jalen Dixon to force the punt.
With the Rebel’s first drive on offense, they were once again led out by the freshman Jayden Maiava, and the offense did not take long to get rolling.
On the first snap of the opening drive for the Rebels, it was an 11-yard completion to junior receiver Ricky White, who had been Maiava’s favorite target since coming into the starting quarterback role for UNLV.
However, the drive did not stop there for White, as the second snap of the day for the Rebel offense resulted in a house call all the way to the end-zone on a 59-yard completion to White 7-0 UNLV lead.
UNLV linebacker Jackson Woodard said about playing defense when getting support from the offense: “It feels amazing, you see it on the sideline when they get a big touchdown it fires everybody up, juices us up for the rest of the game.”
After falling down early, the Wolf Pack looked to regroup on its second drive on offense, and while they could pick up a first down, the rest of the drive was shut down as the UNLV defensive line came up with another sack to force the punt.
As the Rebels received the ball again for the second time, they looked to extend their lead and follow up on the quick strike offense that worked for them in the first drive.
While they threw the ball efficiently on the first drive, the Rebels focused on the ground attack to open up the drive as running back Jai’den Thomas picked up a first down on his first run of the game.
Maiava would also get in on the action of the run game as he pushed them back into the red zone with a 24-yard run as the Rebels looked to extend its lead, with running back Donavyn Lester. carried the ball into the end-zone for a 1-yard rushing touchdown to make the score 14-0.
On its third drive on offense, the Wolf Pack began to figure out the UNLV defense as within three plays, they were past midfield, and on Lewis’ third pass of the drive, he connected on a deep 43-yard pass to Campbell for a score cutting the Reno deficit to 14-7.
With the UNR faithful back into the game, the Wolf Pack defense looked to have a solid defensive drive and get the opportunity to tie the game back into its hands, and they did exactly that, forcing a UNLV punt and receiving the ball back at their own 10-yard line to close out the first quarter.
Although the Wolf Pack were forced to punt, a deep pass that was dropped spelled the end of that drive for UNR, and a significant return coming back the other way for Thomas put the Rebels back in the red zone at the 16-yard line.
On the first snap of the drive, it was once again Lester who took it all the way in for the score, extending the lead 21-7 after the extra point on their first drive of the second quarter.
As Nevada received the ball back, they were pinned deep in their own end of the field, but on the first snap of the drive, the Wolf Pack connected on a 48-yard catch to Campbell, setting them up in good field position.
Linebacker Jackson Woodard flipped the momentum back to the Rebels with an interception, giving them another opportunity to extend the lead before halftime.
The Rebels looked as if they were going to be forced to punt on 3rd and 14, but it was the connection between Maiava and White that surfaced again, and White collected his second touchdown of the game with an 82-yard touchdown grab to give UNLV a 28-7 lead before the half ended.
The Wolf Pack would kick the ball off the Rebels to start the second half of play, and the Rebels looked to chew the clock to collect its fifth victory of the season.
While in the process of running the football on a 3rd and-one opportunity, Lester found an opening and capitalized on it for his third touchdown of the game and extended the UNLV lead to 35-7 just one minute into the second half.
The Wolf Pack continued to fight back and would not go away quietly as they would score on its opening possession of the second half to make the score 35-14 off a six-yard rush on the keeper by Lewis.
Before the end of the third quarter, the Rebels would extend its lead on a 25-yard field goal from kicker Jose Pizano and make the score 38-14.
On the Wolf Pack’s first drive of the fourth quarter, they would eventually be able to find its way to the back of the end zone on a two-yard rush by Dollars to make the score 38-20, but they did not convert on the two-point-try.
Before the game ended, both the Rebels and the Wolf Pack would put another touchdown on the board as Vincent Davis Jr. ran the ball into the end zone from nine yards out to score 45-20 in favor of the Rebels. UNR answered with a 55-yard strike to Isaah Crocker, making the score 45-27.
The Rebels improved to a 5-1 record with the win, just one shy of a bowl game appearance with six games remaining on the schedule, and took home the Fremont Cannon to Las Vegas.
UNLV Football can snap its 9-year bowl drought with a victory against Colorado State at Allegiant Stadium on Oct. 21.