A gatorade dump, hugs of joy, and a locker-room party finished off the Rebels’ victory Saturday night over the New Mexico Lobos, 31-17.
The Rebel offense came up with big scores and the defense with big stops, which would end a 706 day losing streak and it was nothing less than truly spectacular. Marcus Arroyo helped the team to their first victory under his leadership since taking over the team last year.
Military appreciation night kicked off in Albuquerque with the Lobos winning the coin toss and electing to receive the ball first. New Mexico’s offense would get off to a quick start as quarterback (QB) Isaiah Chavez led his team on a six minute drive down the field to score the first touchdown of the game.
The Rebels offense would struggle early going three-and-out on back-to-back drives to open up the quarter but would find rhythm later on.
Late in the first, UNLV’s defense would come up with its first big play of the game, forcing the Lobos to fumble at their own 4-yard-line, setting up Rebels quarterback Cameron Friel and UNLV’s offense to answer back with a score of their own.
First play out, UNLV’s star running back Charles Williams would run the ball in four yards for his ninth touchdown of the season to tie the game.
Entering the second quarter with the game tied at seven a piece, the Lobos would make a costly fumble, which would be recovered by UNLV’s Kyle Beaudry.
This was Beaudry’s first start as a Rebel as he proved his importance to the team, forcing two key first half fumbles, recovering one, posting 10 total tackles, and creating 1.5 quarterback sacks. He rightfully earned himself Rebel of the Game.
On second down, Friel’s pass intended for wide receiver Kyle Williams would be nearly intercepted, then on third down Friel would be sacked by the Lobos.
With a flag on the play and a penalty issued to the Lobos defense, UNLV with a repeat third down would use this to put themselves ahead.
On the next play, Friel would connect with wide receiver Marcus Phillips Jr. for a touchdown, marking Phillips’ first touchdown of the season.
The short lead for UNLV would disappear moments later as New Mexico would answer back with a 75-yard touchdown run to tie the game once again, this time at 14.
First play back on offense, Friel would throw a rocket to Kyle Williams for a 75-yard touchdown pass, marking Williams’ second touchdown of the season as well as his second 100 yard receiving game in a row.
New Mexico would attempt to answer back and tie the game for the third time but defense put a stop to that quick, forcing the Lobos to kick a field goal. The field goal was good, putting them at 17, just four points behind the Rebels. However, the field goal made by the Lobos would be their last score of the game.
The Rebels offense opened up the second half, but were stopped six plays in when Friel’s throw was intercepted, returned for no gain.
The Lobos offense would ultimately turn the ball right back over after New Mexico’s quarterback CJ Montes fumbled the ball and it was recovered by UNLV’s Ricky Johnson.
Friel, on UNLV’s next offensive drive, was unable to move his offense any closer to the red zone, which sent kicker Daniel Gutierrez out. Gutierrez would make an easy 27-yard field goal to put the Rebels up one score, 24-17.
Midway through the third quarter, Charles Williams would become UNLV’s all-time leading rusher after rushing 74-yards in the game. Entering the game, Williams only needed 45 yards to pass former title holder Tim Cornett.
“It was a team effort, we all put in the time and the effort to get here,” Charles Williams said. “We gotta keep rolling. As far as an individual record that’s good and all for my name but I want to keep this team going.”
After Charles Williams broke the record, he wasn’t done there, minutes into the final quarter he would rush for his 10th touchdown of the season making it a two-score game for the Rebels heading into the final ten minutes.
UNLV’s defense would force New Mexico to go three-and-out twice in the final minutes to seal their first victory in the last two seasons, and the Rebel’s first win in the Marcos Arroyo era.
“I’m just proud of my team, man. I mean I’m proud of these guys, the coaches, and the staff.” Arroyo said. “Hanging in there when things aren’t going your way, it says a lot about you as a character, as a team, and as a program.”
“We Not Me” and “Never Flinch” are two sayings UNLV football players and coaches have been saying all year, which truly came to life Saturday night. A selfless game played by each and every player on offense and defense, all in while the team never doubted each other, and that was the key to victory.
“We just won baby, what’d you expect? It was turnt,” Charles Williams paints a picture of the locker room after the win. “It was a good vibe though, just seeing everyone happy and smiling. It was a good win.”
The night shined for many UNLV football players, Friel would throw for 227 yards and two touchdowns while throwing a 60% completion rate. Kyle Williams would end the night with 137 receiving yards on seven receptions and a touchdown. Beaudry would finish with seven tackles, three assists and 1.5 sacks.
UNLV’s defense as a whole held the Lobos to just 36 passing yards and 4.6 yards per play. Defense also forced New Mexico to fumble a total of three times while holding them to a 28.6% third down completion rate.
After the game, the UNLV fight song echoed in the hallway outside the locker room, the celebration was short and sweet as the team began packing up to head home to Las Vegas in preparation for the games ahead.
With three games left in the season, UNLV football is hungry for more as they head back home to host Hawai’i on Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. and the game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
UNLV students get free tickets for the Allegiant Stadium games at unlvtickets.evenue.net