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Offensive lineman, Justin Polu (78), hoists running back, Lexington Thomas (3), after Thomas rushed for one of his two scores on the night (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).
Offensive lineman, Justin Polu (78), hoists running back, Lexington Thomas (3), after Thomas rushed for one of his two scores on the night (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).

Rebels trounce Tigers for first season opening win in eight years

By Manny Vieites
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With the first year of collegiate coaching under his belt, head coach Tony Sanchez was looking to give the Rebels their first season opening win in eight years.

18.575 fans were in attendance to witness the Rebels dismantle Jackson State on Thursday 63-13 to start the season off 1-0.

Transfer quarterback, Johnny Stanton executed the game plan to perfection as he went 10-12 with 217 yards and two touchdowns. The pressure was on Stanton as the race for the starting position was neck in neck in the spring. But its safe to say the pressure is off of him for the moment.

His first pass as a Rebel was a 56-yard touchdown to Devonte Boyd and his third pass had the same outcome, which easily threw the first game jitters out of the window.

“That first pass felt good,” Stanton said. “I threw it at Devonte before he was even looking at it and it was a great catch. I was going to be happy with a 30-yard completion and then he just ran past everybody for a touchdown.”

Quarterback, Johnny Stanton (4) dives for extra yards during the first half against Jackson State on September 1, 2016 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).

Quarterback, Johnny Stanton (4) dives for extra yards during the first half against Jackson State on September 1, 2016 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).

The journey for Stanton to find his niche as a division one quarterback has been a long tedious process but he has found his groove in the scarlet and grey. Sanchez said once Stanton gets comfortable, which could take a couple games, he has the chance to be a special player and that showed on Thursday.

“Before the game I was telling my family and my coaches that it has been way to long of journey for me to not go out there and have fun, so I went out there and had fun,” said Stanton.

Stanton got the ball rolling early for the Rebels but Boyd was the man who stole the show. Boyd was targeted four times for four catches resulting in 135 yards and three touchdowns.  

Boyd now has the third most 100 yard receiving games in UNLV history with the effort on Thursday night.

“I’ve been waiting to be 1-0 for a while now,” Boyd said. “Johnny and I worked all summer on the turf and it was hot, really hot, that’s where the chemistry came. Staying after practice and working on our own things really helped a lot.”

The balance on the field with the running and passing game proved to be effective with what Sanchez has in place. Five Rebel running backs rushed for 30 yards or more with Charles Williams leading the charge with 12 carries 96 yards and one touchdown.

The traditional read option that UNLV has been accustomed to is no more and the balance during the drives proves that Sanchez’s game plan is effective.

To go along with a balance offensively the defense proved to be solid in keeping the opposing teams scoring to a minimum. The Rebels capitalized on two defensive touchdowns.

Senior free safety, Kenny Keys (center), celebrates after a decisive 63-13 UNLV win over Jackson State on September 1, 2016 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).

Senior free safety, Kenny Keys (center), celebrates after a decisive 63-13 UNLV win over Jackson State on September 1, 2016 (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).

The first being a 28-yard fumble recovery touchdown by defensive lineman Nick Dehdashtian which put the Rebels up by 46 points. The second touchdown was a 43-yard pick six by Torry McTyer which would wrap up UNLV’s scoring onslaught.

The win against Jackson State was much needed as the Rebels travel to the Rose Bowl next Saturday to take on UCLA.

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