UNLV faces must-win game in Ninth Island Showdown

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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 football is looking to win their last two games of the season, to become bowl eligible. 

Saturday night’s matchup at Hawaii is a must-win for the Rebels. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. The Rebels are heading into their final two games with a 4-6 record, amongst a five-game losing streak. 

Despite the loss, Arroyo puts the previous games in the past and moves on to their next focus, with high expectations. 

“The expectations and how we play football and how we do things on and off the field as a program, is at a very high standard, regardless of when and where,” Arroyo said.

The Rebels are on the road to face Hawaii for the annual Ninth Island Showdown, in high hopes of keeping the golden pineapple trophy. 

“We’ve applied pressure to these guys,” Arroyo said. “We demand a lot and I’ve been excited about the way they popped back last night in meetings. They’ll be fired up to go this week.”

Along with Arroyo, the players are looking forward to breaking the recent skid and getting closer to qualifying for a bowl for the time since 2013.

“I’m excited for it, it’s pretty cool to have the opportunity to come in and if we win these two games, go to a bowl game,” senior defensive lineman Darius Johnson said. “I think the whole defense is excited for it, especially for the d-line, we’ve been working really well together.” 

Junior offensive lineman Leif Fautanu is one of three Rebels from Hawaii. As one of the captains, he is looking forward to leading the Rebels back to their winning ways.

“It’s the most important two games that we have coming up and I think just coming back to our fundamentals and our basics can win us this game,” Fautanu said. “If we play together, nobody can really hang with us.”

Hawaii comes into the matchup with a 2-9 record. UNLV won the last meeting 27-13 at Allegiant Stadium.  

“You play for a trophy and that’s important,” Arroyo said. “There’s a lot of different reasons to be encouraged, excited, and motivated to get back to work this week.”

Gutierrez wins weekly honor

Sixth-year kicker Daniel Guttierez was named the Mountain West’s Special Teams Player of the Week for a second time this season.

Last Friday against Fresno State, Gutierrez became the first Rebel to make five field goals in a game. 

“I don’t know who else in the country deserves more as a kicker than (Gutierrez) does,” Arroyo said Monday. “He’s done such a fantastic job and he’s automatic in a lot of ways. He’s the best in the country to me.”

His 16 kicking points scored in a game are tied for the most by a kicker (Evan Pantels in 2017). With his 16 points against Fresno State, Gutierrez (258) passed Nolan Kohorst (247) for the most kicking points in school history.

Gutierrez – who is the school’s most accurate kicker (86% make rate) – is four field goals away from tying Nick Garritano for most field goals made in program history.

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