UNLV surrenders late touchdown, loses 28-24 to Utah State

Photo Courtesy of UNLV Athletics.

The UNLV Rebels led most of the game against the Utah State Aggies and were a few minutes away from getting their first win since 2019

But in those few minutes, UNLV could not finish off Utah State. The Aggies scored in the final minute of the game to go ahead 28-24, taking the victory. 

In the fourth quarter, the Rebels had four drives, netting a total of eight yards, with two punts and two interceptions. They could not sustain a drive to take time off the clock or pad their lead any further, allowing the Aggies to come back for the victory. 

“We just didn’t do enough to close it out,” head coach Marcus Arroyo said after the loss. 

“We’ve got to do a better job collectively to put ourselves in position to close that one out,” Arroyo continued. “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.”

Trailing 24-21, Utah State got the ball back after a UNLV three-and-out with under three minutes remaining. The Aggies put together a nine-play, 60-yard drive in just over two minutes to seal the win. 

With only 35 seconds remaining to try and make a comeback, the Rebels could not get in the rhythm they had in the first quarter, and their drive ended with an interception. 

QB Justin Rogers came in to replace QB Cameron Friel after Friel was injured in the fourth quarter while being tackled to the ground. His pass was subsequently intercepted. 

Friel started the game with QB Doug Brumfield still injured. He spent nearly all week of practice working with the starting unit while Brumfield tried to get healthy. Arroyo said Rogers came in because he has spent more time with the offense and he had a bigger set of plays than QB Tate Martell, who has been dealing with his own injuries. 

RB Charles Williams carried the Rebels on a historic night for the senior running back. His 221 rushing yards on the night moved him into second place in rushing yards in UNLV history. 

Williams picked up a large chunk of those yards in the first quarter after the Rebels had just allowed a kickoff return touchdown. On the first play of the drive, Williams ran 75 yards for a touchdown, bringing UNLV ahead 10-7. 

Later in the first quarter, off a Cameron Oliver interception, Williams rushed it in from a yard out and UNLV went up double digits, 17-7. 

Utah State responded when QB Logan Bonner connected with a wide-open Deven Thompkins for 37 yards and the Aggies cut into the Rebels’ lead, 17-14. 

All night, the Aggies were able to carve out holes in the Rebels secondary. Bonner threw for 298 passing yards, averaging just over 14 yards per completion. 

The Bonner to Thompkins connection struck again in the third quarter as Thompkins was wide open in the Rebel endzone for a 6-yard touchdown. Utah State easily marched down the field in less than two minutes on just five plays to retake the lead 21-17. 

But UNLV answered on the ensuing drive when Charles Williams, who rushed for 56 of the 77 yards on an eight-play drive, ran it in from five yards out, giving UNLV a 24-21 lead that they held until the end of the game. 

Falling to 0-6 on the season, the Rebels have lost four of their games by single digits. This one will be much tougher to try and recover from as UNLV led Utah State for most of the game. 

“Honestly, it stings really bad,” Williams said. “It hurts, it really hurts my soul because we gave it our all. There were some plays where you wish you could have back and some plays where we could have executed better.”

UNLV has a very short week ahead of them. They host San Jose State on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 8:00 p.m. The Spartans appear to have taken a step back after winning the Mountain West last year, but they have beaten the Rebels two of the last three years.

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