UNLV jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and everything was rolling on both sides of the ball for the Rebels, as they had the #22 Fresno State Bulldogs on the ropes.
But starting QB Doug Brumfield, who did not play last week against Iowa State, took several big hits that eventually knocked him out of the game. Rebel defense could not stop QB Jake Haener and the Bulldog offense as Fresno State escaped with a 38-30 victory over UNLV.
“We want that win, so we have to go find a way to get it,” Marcus Arroyo said after the loss. “We’re disappointed, but I’m proud. I think we’re heading in the right direction, I think they know that too. They’re growing closer together now, that’s the biggest thing we can do now.”
The Rebels entered the game as 30 point underdogs but showed the Bulldogs that they were in for a challenge. UNLV scored twice in the first quarter, once from a Brumfield touchdown pass to WR Steve Jenkins and later in the quarter on a RB Charles Williams run.
Fresno State scored again late in the second quarter before halftime and they appeared to have the momentum back. But when the Rebels came out for the third quarter, Brumfield connected with WR Tyleek Collins for an 80-yard touchdown reception to put UNLV ahead 21-9.
That touchdown pass from Brumfield would be the last completion he threw on the night as he officially went out of the game in the third quarter. True freshman Cameron Friel took the reins for UNLV and they began to slow down a bit.
With Brumfield out, Fresno State scored three touchdowns to take a 29-21 lead. But the Rebels were not finished, as Friel found his groove and started to click together some drives.
UNLV answered Fresno State’s early fourth-quarter touchdown with a six-play, 75-yard drive. Friel completed a 44-yard pass to WR Steve Jenkins that set the Rebels with a first and goal before RB Courtney Reese eventually punched it into the endzone.
The Rebels retook the lead after Fresno State QB Jake Haener threw an interception to DB Phillip Hill. Six plays later, K Daniel Gutierrez knocked down a 30-yard field goal to put UNLV ahead 30-29.
But the Rebels were unable to stop Haener, as the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on their next drive. And a Friel fumble, a Fresno State field goal put the game on ice.
Charles Williams returned to form for the Rebels, rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown, while picking up 96 receiving yards as well. And Tyleek Collins came up huge with 4 receptions for 88 yards as WR Kyle Williams did not play.
Friel’s performance in the second half was the best showing from a UNLV quarterback not named Doug Brumfield. He completed 9 of 15 passes for 138 yards, while Brumfield connected on 6 of 13 throws for 143 yards.
“I think they played tough,” Arroyo said. “Doug went out there and tried to compete the best he could, got a little banged up and then Cameron came in and did as good a job as you can do on the call on the fly. Doug had a lot of the reps this week to try and get him back into it, he was called upon to make some big plays there.”
After a slow start, Haener heated up throwing for 378 yards and 5 touchdowns, connecting with nine different Fresno State receivers throughout the night.
The Rebels are now 0-4 on the season. UNLV’s next game is on the road against UTSA, next Saturday, Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. PT on ESPN+.
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