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Sideline incident highlights UNLV’s growth as a team

It was a moment and an incident that said a lot about the reasons behind UNLV’s emergence as a winning football team this season.

With 8:09 remaining and UNLV leading by four against New Mexico during Friday’s 31-20 win at Allegiant Stadium, UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield faked a handoff and rolled out to his left.

It was first-and-10, and the Rebels’ sophomore quarterback didn’t see any good passing options, so he tried to turn upfield and grab a couple extra yards before running out of bounds.

“I knew I was going to get hit,” Brumfield said. “Everything happened so fast, so I tried to brace, took the hit.”

The UNLV quarterback got absolutely hammered. New Mexico’s Cody Moon, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound linebacker, launched Brumfield into the Rebels’ sideline, even though the quarterback was already out of bounds.

Moon was immediately penalized for a late hit, then got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty tacked on after confronting the UNLV sideline.

Brumfield didn’t see much of the confrontation. UNLV trainers told him to stay down while Moon was escorted away from the Rebels’ sideline.

His teammates immediately stood up for him, rallying to his defense without stepping over the line and incurring any personal foul penalties themselves.

Afterward, the lefty quarterback was just trying to focus on re-organizing the offense. In hindsight though, Brumfield said Monday he appreciated his team’s support.

“I love it and expect it from my teammates,” Brumfield said. “We’ve got each other’s backs. I would do the same for one of my brothers if I was in their position, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary.”

The incident may not have been exceptional to Brumfield, but it’s another sign of the cohesion and chemistry the Rebels’ strong start has fostered. The quarterback said the team regularly tries to spend time together off the field so they can stay on the same wavelength on it.

Brumfield isn’t the only one feeling a growing connection. Sophomore cornerback Cameron Oliver believes UNLV has also bonded through the trials of getting every opponent’s best shot. After dethroning the reigning Mountain West champions Utah State in their first conference game, the Rebels (4-1, 2-0) know they have a target on their backs.

Next up is San Jose State for a 7:30 p.m. game Friday at CEFCU Stadium in San Jose, California. The 3-1 Spartans are also undefeated in conference play, defeating Wyoming 33-16 in their Mountain West opener.

The way Brumfield’s teammates rallied around him isn’t the trait coach Marcus Arroyo was impressed by the most when he reflected upon the incident. He was most proud of the Rebels’ discipline and maturity. He felt they handled the situation well, protecting their teammate but refusing to let Moon get in their head or impact their play.

“It’s how you carry yourself,” Arroyo said, “and making sure you have some emotional stability when things don’t go your way.”

That’s a lesson this UNLV team seems to be learning.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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