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UNLV gives No. 15 USC a fight in 43-21 loss

Updated September 1, 2018 - 7:53 pm

LOS ANGELES — This was no Ohio State from a year ago when UNLV was outclassed and never really in that game.

The Rebels gave No. 15 Southern California a fight until the fourth quarter Saturday when the Trojans all but ended the suspense just one play into the final period.

JT Daniels’ 43-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown put the Trojans up by 12 points and sent them well on their way to a 43-21 victory at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the season opener for both teams. Southern Cal scored 24 points in the final quarter.

It was quite a different scene from last season, when the Rebels were thoroughly beaten 54-21 at Ohio State. But UNLV coach Tony Sanchez wasn’t in the mood to discuss moral victories.

“I’m proud of how hard they played, but disappointed in the outcome,” he said. “Our guys gave ourselves a chance to win that game.”

UNLV was a 27-point underdog, but the Rebels led twice in the first half — on Lexington Thomas’ 71-yard touchdown run and Armani Rogers’ 31-yard scoring pass to Kendal Keys.

The Rebels had a chance to extend a 14-12 lead late in the second quarter, but Evan Pantels missed a 39-yard field goal.

USC then moved down the field, and Vavae Malepeai’a 2-yard touchdown run with 1:04 left gave the Trojans the lead for good at 19-14.

Thomas rushed for 136 yards and Rogers for 82 yards as the Rebels gained 308 on the ground. Rogers completed 12 of 27 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

UNLV plays Texas-El Paso on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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