The Rebels had a chance against UTSA, with 94 seconds left in the fourth quarter, to go down the field, score a touchdown to tie the game and get their first win of the season.
But with no timeouts remaining, freshman quarterback was sacked on 4th and 10 to ice the game and give UTSA a 24-17 win, dropping the Rebels to 0-5 entering their bye week.
Friel was sacked six times and turned the ball over three times, with two interceptions and a fumble. Despite the scoreboard being close, the Rebels were very undisciplined with seven penalties, including an offside on a 4th and 1 and two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties from offensive lineman Julio Garcia.
“I don’t need stats,” Marcus Arroyo said after the loss to reporters who were at the game. “That was our most undisciplined game. We beat ourselves in a lot of ways.”
“When you lose your composure, and you’ve got penalties, and you are playing an undisciplined football game, in a fashion that you haven’t before, you limit your success.”
UNLV was severely short-handed before the game, with quarterbacks Doug Brumfield and Tate Martell, defensive lineman Adam Plant Jr. and Connor Murphy, cornerback Phillip Hill, and wide receiver Tyleek Collins all unavailable for the Rebels. Kylan Wilborn and Giovanni Fauolo were both injured in the game and left due to injuries.
UTSA began the scoring on a 9-yard touchdown pass from QB Frank Harris to WR Joshua Cephus to cap off a 14 play, 92-yard drive.
UNLV responded on its next drive on the first play with a 63-yard touchdown pass from Friel to WR Steve Jenkins. Midway through the second quarter, Daniel Gutierrez hit a 34-yard field goal to put UNLV ahead 10-7.
The Rebels’ lead was short-lived as the Roadrunners hit a field goal on the ensuing drive. UTSA then added a touchdown before the end of the first half to go into the locker room up 17-10.
UNLV kept the game at one score until UTSA drove 53-yards in four plays and scored an easy touchdown on a 31-yard pass from Harris to WR De’Corian Clark.
It remained a two-score game until the fourth quarter. The Rebels methodically drove down the field with a nice mix of passes from Friel and runs from RBs Charles Williams, Chad Magyar, and Courtney Reese.
On a crucial fourth-and-1, Arroyo brought in QB Justin Rogers after Friel was cramping up, and Rogers hit WR Zyell Griffin for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
UNLV’s defense forced UTSA to a field goal with under two minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Roadrunners missed, giving the Rebels an opportunity to tie the game. Ultimately, the Rebels could not capitalize and turned it over on downs.
Despite throwing two interceptions and being sacked six times, Friel showed growth leading the offense in his second start of the season. He completed 25 of 37 passes and threw for 307 yards and a TD.
“He’s tough, he continues to play, all the way to the end,” Arroyo said of his freshman quarterback. “Cramps up, comes back, takes hits, goes down, staying in there, resilient, poised, young, he continues to fight. There’s so much to like about that as a true freshman.”
UTSA managed to limit UNLV on the ground, holding Williams to 48 rushing yards on 15 carries and the Rebels overall to 35 net rushing yards, which include Friel’s sacks. Meanwhile, the Roadrunners compiled 104 rushing yards.
UNLV will get a much-needed bye this week, as the Rebels look to get healthy and iron out the issues that presented themselves in the loss. The Rebels host Utah State on Oct. 16 at Allegiant Stadium to resume their season.
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