UNLV moves to 3-1 on the season behind dominant defense, Brumfield runs for 2 TDs
Opening their conference schedule against the defending Mountain West Conference champions, the Rebels looked prepared to make a statement. What many may not have expected was that the Rebels defense had a lot to say.
The opening quarter began slowly, with both teams trying to establish the run, but the pace picked up quickly once the offenses found their comfort in the passing game. Utah State opened the scoring about nine minutes in, when Logan Bonner found Justin McGriff for a 12-yard touchdown pass. UNLV quickly responded on their next drive as Brumfield found Kyle Williams for a big 40-yard reception and Jeff Weimer for a 27-yard completion. The Rebels tied the game at 7-7 when Brumfield scored on a 4-yard rush off an option play. Utah State had the play defended well, with defenders on both Robbins and Brumfield, but the 6-5” quarterback would prove quick enough to slip the would-be tackler and find the end zone.
Utah State made a critical error early when punter Stephen Kotsanlee dropped to one knee to receive the ball on his own 5-yard line. The ball was downed at the 5, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Aggies set UNLV up with 1st-and-0goal inside the 3-yard line. Doug Brumfield scored his second rushing touchdown on the day three plays later and the Rebels took the lead at 14-7.
Following a Utah State punt, the Rebels opened the second quarter with an efficient eight-play drive taking only 2:43 off the clock. Aidan Robbins was proved effective once again, rushing twice for 29 yards, and Doug Brumfield found Kyle Williams on a 6-yard fade pass to increase the Rebels lead to 21-7.
The Rebels got their first interception in the game when Jerrae Williams picked off Logan Bonner on Utah State’s next possession. The Rebels would only run three plays, and the Aggies were able to block the ensuing punt, but could not recover inside the end zone, picking up only the safety to make the score 21-9.
The Aggies received the ball but two plays later Logan Bonner threw his second interception of the contest, this one by Austin Ajiake, who was eventually tackled at the Aggies’ 32-yard line. Six plays later, Daniel Gutierrez added a field goal to extend the Rebels’ lead to 24-9.
Utah State would eventually answer with a touchdown of their own, as the Aggies went 75 yards on eight plays, finished by the first of Terrell Vaughn’s two touchdown receptions from Logan Bonner to close the lead to eight points at, 24-16. Kyle Williams was injured late in the second quarter on a tackle and did not return.
UNLV’s offense would add a second field goal and the defense its third interception of the second quarter, this one by Nohl Williams, to give the Rebels a 27-16 lead into halftime.
Utah State opened the third quarter with a somewhat promising start, gaining 20 yards on a mix of short run and pass plays, but the drive stalled on a 4th and 2, when Austin Ajiake stopped Broc Lane short of the first down at the UNLV 43. The Rebels then went on an 11-play drive that took more than five minutes off the clock, capped Aidan Robbins’ five-yard touchdown run, moving the Rebels’ lead to 34-16.
The Rebels would stop the Aggies’ next possession deep in their own territory when Cameron Oliver picked off Bonner at the UNLV 7.
The Aggies began the fourth quarter with a long drive covering 92 yards, but once again the Rebels defense would stop Utah State on downs, one yard shy of converting a 4th and 3 at the UNLV 8. Following a UNLV punt, the Aggies would add one more touchdown, Bonner’s second touchdown to Terrell Vaughn. A completed two-point conversion would make the score 34-24, but that is the closest Utah State would get.
On the next two possessions by Utah State, the Rebels would recover a fumble by Logan Bonner as he attempted to step up in the pocket and claim their fifth interception of Bonner on a Hail Mary play to end the game.
Keys to the Game:
In a word, balance. The offense seemed to get everyone involved this week, as Brumfield and Robbins combined for three rushing touchdowns, but the team only ran for 103 yards overall. Brumfield passed for 217 yards on 21-of-31 passing and hit seven different receivers. Ricky White was held without a catch, but Jeff Weimer led receivers with 57 yards on five receptions. On the other side, the defense picked up six turnovers, stopped the Aggies twice on downs, and seemed to extinguish any hope Utah State could muster when they did find something positive.
In a game where their opponent seemed to be playing against much more than just UNLV, the Rebels played opportunistically and took advantage of what was available. The Aggies seemed focused on stopping Aidan Robbins; he still finished with 81 yards and a touchdown. And for all the effort to stop the Rebels featured running back, quarterback Doug Brumfield still ran for two scores and threw for a third. And for all that the defense did in this game, it seemed all too fitting that the game ended with one more interception for their efforts.
Player of the Game:
How about the entire UNLV defense? It would be an understatement to say this was a complete defensive effort today, and yet everything you could say would sound cliche because it was that straightforward: the defensive line challenged the offensive line the entire game, linebackers followed up behind them to make the tackle or add pressure, and the secondary played the Aggies’ receivers tough from start to finish, picking up four interceptions along the way. Once UNLV pulled ahead of Utah State, the Rebels’ defense played a key role in making sure the Aggies didn’t get it back.
Next week, the Rebels will return home to face the New Mexico Lobos at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Kick-off is scheduled for 11:00pm EST (8:00pm PST) on Friday night.
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