The question throughout the week was who would start at quarterback, and the answer was Johnny Stanton, who provided a dramatic statement for UNLV.
He completed 18 of 26 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a TD, and the Rebels’ defense held off a late Hawaii drive in a 31-23 victory Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.
This was the first time in two years the Rebels (4-5, 3-3 Mountain West) have posted back-to-back victories. They also have won at least four games in a season for the second year in a row, the first time that has happened since the 2008 and 2009 seasons, which each ended 5-7.
And, more important, they kept alive their bowl hopes and can come within one victory of eligibility when Brigham Young visits on Friday.
In defeating Hawaii (3-6, 1-5), UNLV turned to Stanton for the second week in a row. He replaced Armani Rogers, who was out with a concussion, a week ago in a 26-16 victory at Fresno State. Rogers came back this week and played two series in the first half.
Otherwise, this was Stanton’s game. He led three touchdown drives in the third quarter and a series that took 6:45 off the clock in the fourth that resulted in a 32-yard field goal by Evan Pantels and a two-possession lead with 4:53 left.
“There were times where special teams made a big play,” UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. “There were times when the defense kept us in it in that first half playing really, really well. The offense had to find themselves. The offense extended the lead. It was one of the first times that I can remember we were able to rely on all three phases at different points throughout the game.”