LOGAN, Utah — The rains came and then the hail, but that was nothing compared to the onslaught of points UNLV endured from Utah State.
The Rebels for the second week in a row didn’t look like they belonged on the same field as their opponent, getting blown out 59-28 on Saturday at Maverik Stadium.
That followed a 50-14 home loss a week earlier to New Mexico.
Usual starting quarterback Armani Rogers (toe) didn’t play in either game and will be out about another month, and running back Lexington Thomas suffered a head injury against the Aggies. But the Rebels’ problems aren’t limited to those positions, and like the New Mexico game, this was a total team loss for for the Rebels (2-4, 0-2 Mountain West).
Rebels coach Tony Sanchez, also for the second week in a row, didn’t hide his disappointment regarding how his players performed, particularly in the first half.
“We’ve got a guy that jumps offsides on defense,” Sanchez said. “Our corner stops playing the play because he thinks the play’s dead. The whistle didn’t blow, so the play’s not dead. It’s a free touchdown. Then we’ve got a guy who slides the wrong way on a punt protection. It’s another free touchdown. We make a bad read again and throw a pick inside the 30. It’s 21 points we gave them without doing anything.
“That stuff cannot happen.”
UNLV now has a short week before welcoming Air Force to Sam Boyd Stadium on Friday, and there are few signs of life in what began as a season of great hope for a bowl appearance.
This instead is a season in big trouble.
Utah State (5-1, 2-0) spotted UNLV a 7-0 lead and then took over. The Aggies carried a 42-7 lead into halftime, much of that under falling rain and hail. The weather cleared up in the second half.
“When it started to hail, heck, there for a while, I needed it to hail some more,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. “When the sun came out, we struggled a little bit.”
Struggling is a relative term.
It’s true that UNLV outscored the Aggies 21-17 in the second half, but it’s just as true the game was well decided by then.
UNLV quarterback Max Gilliam threw all three of his touchdown passes in the second half, and he finished 18 of 36 for 250 yards. Tyleek Collins caught four passes for 139 yards, including an 79-yard touchdown.
“It’s obviously not the outcome we wanted, but I’m proud of our guys for fighting through it till the end and getting better,” Gilliam said. “That’s all we can really do. We’ve got to have a better start next week and have a good week of practice.”
Utah State more than matched those numbers, with quarterback Jordan Love completing 17 of 23 passes for 322 yards and a school record-tying five touchdowns. Jalen Greene caught five passes for 132 yards and an 80-yard touchdown late in the first quarter that put the Aggies ahead for good.
Now UNLV must figure out how to move forward, and defensive end Jameer Outsey said the topic would come up in Sunday’s weekly players meeting.
“We’ll make sure everybody stays focused and stays within it,” Outsey said. “The season’s not over. We’re halfway done. We can still get to a bowl game. We can still do all the goals that we set out to achieve.”