The Rebels continue their losing streak under head coach Marcus Arroyo after a last minute touchdown earned the Utah State Aggies a 28-24 victory.
UNLV started out this game with flashes of brilliance scoring 17 points in the first quarter, with Charles Williams breaking a 75-yard touchdown run, the longest of the season.
Even though the Rebels were quiet in the second quarter, the first half was jam-packed with constant offensive prowess. Both teams ended up with 31 total points, 17 from the Rebels and 14 from Utah State.
However, in the second half, the game became more interesting. With Utah State scoring on the first drive in the third quarter, Williams answered by running in a five-yard touchdown to take back the lead for UNLV.
After that drive, both teams began to play immaculate defense against each other, only for disaster to strike UNLV at the QB position. Starting QB Cameron Friel sustained an injury that would put him out for the rest of the game.
Not only did Friel get injured, but he also threw an interception that slowly started an avalanche of mistakes and controversy.
The first controversial call in the game came on the next drive. Aggie wide receiver Justin McGriff and defensive back Aaron Lewis went up for a pass that was ruled incomplete and went into review.
The refs overturned the call as their final decision.
Outrushing and causing turnovers, the Rebels were still alive and kicking with a three-point lead, but every good thing must come to an end and UNLV still fell short due to an 11-yard go-ahead touchdown run with 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
In the remaining 30 seconds, the Rebels still had hope of making a comeback, but an interception for the Aggies would crush those chances.
“It doesn’t amount to one call or one play,” Arroyo said. “We’ve got to do a better job collectively to put ourselves in position to close that one out. We had the lead the entire game and did a lot of good stuff, but we’ve got to get healthy again and we’ve got another one Thursday night. Quick turnaround, but we’ve got to go forward.”
Williams had a career night for the Rebels breaking the 200 rushing yard mark for the first time since 2013 with Tim Cornett. Running for a total of 221 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns, Williams shoots into second place all-time in rushing yards, which ties him for fourth in all-time rushing touchdowns at UNLV.
Rebel kicker Daniel Gutierrez joined Williams on the history board with a stunning season performance. After hitting the opening 26-yard field goal making him go 9-for-9 on field goals for this season and 30-of-36 in his career, boosting his career percentage to 83.3 percent, the highest in the schools’ history.
Even while making history, everyone on the team felt the sting from another losing night, after a hard fought battle on the field.
“Honestly, it stings really bad,” Williams said. “It hurts my soul because we gave it our all tonight and you know there’s some plays where you wish you could have back, some plays we could’ve executed better. The good part is it’s a short week, so now we can rinse this out and be on to San Jose State. You know, don’t dwell on it too long, move on and learn from this.”
UNLV looks to move on and bring their best foot forward heading into next week as the team prepares to host the Rebel Homecoming game against San Jose State on Oct. 21 with an 8 p.m. PT.