UNLV football returned to the field Saturday at San Diego State hoping to stop its three-game losing streak as starting quarterback Doug Brumfield and starting running back Aidan Robbins came back from injury.
Despite their return, the Rebels committed four turnovers – two interceptions and two fumbles – and struggled offensively as they fell to the Aztecs 14-10 in San Diego.
These turnovers plagued the Rebels and were a major factor in them not being able to dig themselves out of a 14-0 deficit.
“To overcome turnovers in this situation is hard, two of those in our own territory, which are a loss of points and probably the swing of the game,” head coach Marcus Arroyo told reporters on site after the loss as the Rebels have now lost four straight games after starting 4-1.
“We’ve got to put that behind us, we’ve got a short week coming up. We’ve got to regroup and shake some of the rust off some of these guys who are back.”
The low-scoring affair was due in part to the stout defensive presence UNLV displayed against San Diego State. The Rebels recorded six sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
“Defense played well, but [we] gotta play all three phrases,” Arroyo said in his postgame interview with Learfield Sports.
Through these defensive efforts, the first quarter went scoreless for both sides as the offenses were forced to punt on several occasions. A factor in that was both defenses’ ability to get stops on third down. Only one third down conversion was made in the entire first quarter.
Entering the second quarter, the Aztecs began to break through the Rebels’ coverage.
This opened up the only touchdown of the first half, which the Aztecs scored from 28 yards out in the air from San Diego State quarterback Jalen Mayden.
Mayden threw for 216 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
The interception Mayden threw was in the first quarter partly due to the pressure the Rebel defensive line brought.
UNLV looked to find a rhythm in the first half, but could not due to two lost fumbles in the second quarter. The team went into halftime trailing 7-0.
The Rebels gave up another touchdown on the Aztecs’ opening drive for the second half, growing the deficit to 14-0.
UNLV responded shortly thereafter with a long 70-yard touchdown throw by Brumfield to senior wide receiver Nick Williams in the third quarter.
However, on UNLV’s next offensive possession, Brumfield threw his second interception of the day, and the fourth turnover for the team.
UNLV was able to score a field goal early in the fourth quarter, but could not find the endzone for the rest of the game.
Brumfield completed 17 of 27 for 207 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Robbins finished the game with 21 carries for 115 yards on the ground.
“It’s coaching, it starts with me,” Arroyo said in his postgame interview with Learfield Sports, “It’s a team game, you can’t win it by yourself, can’t blame one person…gotta play all three phases, and play better together.”
Several key performances on defense kept the Rebels in the game. These were led by sophomore defensive lineman Jalen Dixon with two sacks and 4 ½ tackles for loss.
Senior defensive lineman Adam Plant Jr. recorded seven solo tackles, two sacks, and three tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Austin Ajiake finished the game with nine total tackles and a sack.
The Rebels are now 4-5 overall moving forward. They face three more chances to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013.
UNLV comes back home and will host Fresno State, Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Allegiant Stadium.