Runnin Rebels fall to Arkansas State 43-17

Turkson TJ

“We’ve gotta find some rhythm in the passing game, we can’t just rely on handing the ball off over and over.” – Tony Sanchez

Las Vegas, NV – UNLV Football head coach Tony Sanchez and his Runnin’ Rebels opened the 2019 season with an impressive 56-23 win over Utah State last Saturday. Unfortunately, they were unable to keep the momentum from that win going against Arkansas State on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium, as they fell to the visiting Red Wolves 43-10.

The game got off to a rough start for the Rebels, as starting quarterback Armani Rogers’ first pass of the game was picked batted around, ultimately winding up in the hands of Arkansas State cornerback Jeremy Smith who corraled the deflection and brought it back 35 yards for the games’ opening score, much to the chagrin of coach Sanchez. UNLV’s second possession was derailed when Rogers delivered an on-the-money pass to wideout Randal Grimes on a third-and-long, but the normally sure-handed transfer from USC, by way of Desert Pines high school in Las Vegas surprisingly dropped the pass that would have surely resulted in a first down. Regrettably, this would be a recurring theme as Rogers and his receiving corps never seemed to quite click with one another. On the Red Wolves’ second possession 3rd and 10 from the Rebels’ 20-yard line, quarterback Logan Bonner found receiver Omar Bayless on a slant for a pick up of seven yards, but UNLV’s playmaking cornerback Jericho Flowers made a great break on the ball and broke the pass up that would have likely been a score had he not. Bonner would later take a play out of the UNLV playbook on a run-pass option look where he wisely elected to tuck it himself and scored from a yard out, to give the visitors a two-touchdown lead at 17-3. The visitors would add another touchdown to head into the half with a 23-3 lead.

The Rebels would look to snatch some momentum coming out of halftime, but Bonner would find Kirt Merritt for a quick strike TD to push the Red Wolves lead to 30-3. Charles Williams who had hard-fought yards on the night, highlighted by an amazing 78-yard run down to the Arkansas State three-yard line. Williams would follow that up moments later by finding paydirt from three yards out.However, the good juju for the Rebs was short-lived, as Bonner and Bayless would later hook up again on a back-breaking 71-yard touchdown to push the score to 40-10.

Late in the game, Sanchez elected to insert backup freshman QB Kenyon Oblad in to lead the offense late in the fourth quarter; and the youngster provided a much-needed spark in delivering a quick strike with a 56-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Randal Grimes- who was the leading UNLV receiver on the night with 3 catches for 71 yards- for the Rebels’ only scoring play through the air on the night.
UNLV will be on the road for their next two games, as they travel to Evanston, Illinois to take on Northwestern, and then head to Laramie, Wyoming for a Mountain West conference matchup against the Cowboys, before returning home to host Boise State on October 5th, which is throwback to the 90’s night.