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UNLV Sophomore defensive back, Darius Mouton, hangs his head after a UCLA touchdown in the 2nd quarter (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).
UNLV Sophomore defensive back, Darius Mouton, hangs his head after a UCLA touchdown in the 2nd quarter (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).

Rebels battle with Bruins, fall short in fourth quarter

By Manny Vieites
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A new mindset and desire to win was proven by the Rebels Saturday night in their first ever Rose Bowl appearance, despite losing 42-21 to a solidified UCLA Bruins team. The score does not do the justice in explaining the effort and opportunity that the Rebels had late in the game.

Down seven with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, UNLV was a stop away from forcing another UCLA punt. A pivotal targeting penalty and ejection issued to UNLV free safety, Kenny Keys, on a third and 10 proved to be a turning point in helping the Bruins put the Rebels away.

“Its one of those deals where it is what it is,” UNLV Head Coach Tony Sanchez said. “Its one of those deals where that’s how they’re going to call the game. The game has changed. I don’t know. It’s hard. You’ve got to teach your guys how to go up for the ball. You go for the ball with your hands. If you don’t, you always take that risk. It’s unfortunate. It’s hard to jump up and down and yell about something like that. That was a big point in the game. Were getting the ball back, down by seven, late in the game. But then they go back down and score, then you’d be chasing it after that.”

UNLV free safety, Kenny Keys, drills UCLA receiver, Eldridge Massington, early in the fourth quarter. Keys was flagged and ejected for targeting on the play (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).

UNLV free safety, Kenny Keys, drills UCLA receiver, Eldridge Massington, early in the fourth quarter. Keys was flagged and ejected for targeting on the play (Photo: Jeremy Rincon).

After being demolished last year at home in their first ever matchup against the Bruins, the Rebels showed their improvement in a tighter content heading into the forth and why this season can be special.

Lexington Thomas led the charge for the Rebels with 112 yards on 19 carries earning a touchdown along the way. Postgame Thomas seemed very serious about the new demeanor and focus of the way the Rebels will be approaching the season moving forward.

“The old UNLV is behind us,” Thomas said. “We’re not like the old Rebels 10 years ago or even last year. We’re more focused, have the right mindset and can compete every game.”

Not throwing an interception in his first game against Jackson State, Johnny Stanton threw his first and second interceptions Saturday night against the Bruins while going 11 for 28 tallying 153 yards with both a rushing and passing touchdown. Both interceptions were on first down, limiting the offense’s possession and opportunity to shift the momentum. In miscommunications with receivers, Stanton found himself giving redshirt senior defensive back,  Randall Gorforth, both interceptions for the Bruins.

Stanton primarily stayed in the pocket for most of the night and did not offer the availability of scrambling and giving his receivers the option of escaping the coverage.

“They’re a good defensive backfield,” Stanton said. “I should’ve given myself more time on those throws but I did make those throws and left it up there. Coach was saying I can’t leave those balls up there on first down I have a whole drive to go. I can help my guys out more by giving a different calls and scrambling out a little bit more, that’s all I really need.”

Rebels Talking
The Rebels will continue to push their culture shift again next Saturday against Central Michigan, where they will make the trip to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, for the first time in 18 years. The Chippewas are coming off an upset over #22 Oklahoma State 30-27. The game will be on ESPN3 at 12 pm PST.

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