The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels extended their season-long losing streak to seven games when they dropped their matchup against the San Jose State Spartans on Thursday, 27-20.
The Rebels, who are currently the only team without a win in the Mountain West Conference, had the best start to a game all season on Thursday against the Spartans. After recovering a pooch kick from the opening kickoff at the San Jose State 20-yard line, the Rebels got on the board with a 6-yard strike from quarterback Cameron Friel to Steve Jenkins in the back of the end zone.
Friel, who is coming off a poor performance last week against Utah State, finished the game with 240 passing yards and one touchdown. He also added five yards on the ground with his 14 rushing attempts.
“I think that he’s tough,” Rebels head coach Marcus Arroyo said of Friel. “I think he’s resilient, I think he likes football, I think he’s a team guy. I’m proud of him, I think everyone should be. I think he’s leading by example and he’s laying it all out there.”
After building up a 17-6 first-half lead, the Rebels looked like they were going to head into the locker room in full control of the game. However, the Spartans had other plans. With just 16 seconds left on the second quarter clock, running back Charles Williams took a handoff to the outside and fumbled the ball. The Spartans were able to recover the ball on the Rebels 33-yard line.
Just two plays later, after a 32-yard pass on first down, the Spartans were able to punch the ball into the end zone and cut the Rebels’ lead down to just four points, 17-13, heading into halftime.
The Rebels only second-half points came on the leg of their senior kicker, Daniel Gutierrez. Gutierrez, who broke the school record for most made field goals in a row at 15 with a 53-yard field goal in the first half, was able to drill a 30-yard field goal to put the Rebels up 20-13.
The Spartans would tie the game at 20 on a ten-yard rush by senior running back Tyler Nevens. The Spartans as a team rushed for 216 yards, including a career-high 121 yards by sophomore quarterback Nick Nash.
“I think the defense did a good job trying to contain those guys,” Arroyo said of the Rebels defense. “They’re an experienced group and their quarterbacks played in a lot of big games over the time they’ve been together. I thought there were opportunities there, when we had them, we took them.”
On UNLV’s next drive, they got into Spartan territory, however, they weren’t able to reach the end zone. The Rebels were looking to take the lead back with a 40-yard field goal, however, the Spartans defense came up huge and were able to block the kick. On top of keeping the score tied, they also ended Gutierrez’s run of consecutive field goals.
The Spartans drove down the field and took the lead, 27-20, on a 15-yard rushing attempt by Nash. This touchdown would be the game winner.
UNLV received the ball one last time with just over 7 minutes to play. After converting multiple third and long attempts, they were facing a third down from the Spartans 11-yard line with 14 seconds remaining.
Having no timeouts, they needed either a touchdown or a play that would stop the clock. On the ensuing play, however, Friel was sacked and unable to get another snap off, giving the Spartans the win.
The Rebels’ next game will be on Friday, Oct. 29, when they travel to in-state rival University of Nevada, Reno to take on the Wolf Pack, who will be coming off a loss against Fresno State this past weekend.
The matchup between UNLV and Nevada, Reno has been an intense rivalry between the schools. The winner gets to keep the Fremont Cannon and paint it with the school’s colors. Last season, the Wolf Pack took back the cannon when they beat UNLV at Allegiant Stadium.
This matchup has gotten so big, that the mayors of each town have gone back and forth trying to decide what to bet on the game. This will be something that, as a Nevada resident, you won’t want to miss.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Contact Sports Editor Danny Smyth at firstname.lastname@example.org