Updated November 20, 2022 - 10:29 am
The UNLV football team simply had no wiggle room.
After losing close games to Fresno State and San Diego State the previous two weeks, UNLV needed to win Saturday to keep its bowl hopes alive. It was facing Hawaii, a team that entered the game with one Mountain West win.
On paper, the Rebels — 11-point favorites — were in a good situation.
However, paper doesn’t account for torrential rainstorms arriving intermittently throughout the game. It doesn’t make allowances for key injuries to parts of the Rebels’ secondary. It doesn’t consider the odds of the most accurate kicker in UNLV history hitting the upright.
It doesn’t account for a 31-25 loss in Honolulu.
“I was tough on the guys all week,” UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo told reporters after the game. “I warned them that these types of games get set up this way, but that’s got to fall on my shoulders first.”
With the loss, UNLV’s losing streak extended to six games. UNLV started the season 4-1, but the Rebels were officially eliminated from bowl contention with the loss.
“Frustration is an understatement,” Arroyo said.
The Rebels also gave the Rainbow Warriors the Island Showdown Trophy. Hawaii has now won four of the past six meetings between the teams since the trophy was introduced as part of the Ninth Island Rivalry in 2017.
UNLV’s offense never looked fully comfortable Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield completed 23 of 37 pass attempts for 288 yards and a touchdown, but the run game wasn’t established.
Junior running back Aidan Robbins had 72 yards on 17 carries, while Brumfield added 55 yards on 18 carries. UNLV’s offense also struggled to convert third downs, going just 4-for-14.
“That’s a hard locker room right now,” Arroyo said. “We’ve got to do a better job.”
The offense also ground to a halt in the red zone. The Rebels (4-7, 2-5 Mountain West) settled for five field goal attempts. Sixth-year kicker Daniel Gutierrez made four of them, tying him with Nick Garritano for first in program history with 53 made field goals. However, Gutierrez also kicked one off the upright early in the fourth quarter.
UNLV led 13-7 at halftime, but Hawaii (3-9, 2-5) surged to a 24-16 lead in the fourth quarter.
UNLV’s defense tried to pick up the slack, matching the offense with a lone touchdown. Senior defensive end Adam Plant Jr. stripped Hawaii quarterback Brayden Schager, and linebacker Elijah Shelton recovered the ball and ran it into the end zone to cut the deficit to 24-22 with 8:13 remaining.
The Rebels’ offense then failed to complete the two-point conversion on a pass in the left front corner of the end zone that didn’t come close to being completed. The play left junior wide receiver Kyle Williams — whose five catches for 111 yards led the team — visibly frustrated.
Shelton forced another fumble to give UNLV the ball with 7:25 remaining. However, the drive stalled out near midfield, and Brumfield’s pass on fourth-and-5 fell incomplete.
The Rainbow Warriors scored three plays later on a 34-yard run by senior Dedrick Parson to effectively clinch the win with a 31-22 lead with 2:51 to play.
“We just got outcompeted, and that was uncharacteristic,” Arroyo said. “That’s what happens when you lose focus.”
UNLV will finish its season by hosting UNR in the Battle for the Fremont Cannon at 3 p.m. Nov. 26.