UNLV football triumphed 58-27 behind a second-half surge that pushed them ahead of the North Texas Mean Green Saturday afternoon at Allegiant Stadium.
“To play a brand of football that we can be excited and confident about that we know we’re capable of playing,” head coach Marcus Arroyo said after the Rebels improved to 2-1 on the season.
UNLV saw its early first half lead cut from 13 points to three as they went into the locker room only leading 23-20.
But behind seven combined touchdowns from sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield and Louisville transfer running back Aidan Robbins, the Rebels put away the Mean Green. They closed the game out with 28 straight unanswered points.
“Overcoming adversity not only just from last week, and getting punched in the gut, but being able to bounce back and have a really, really good week and have these guys tune back in,” Arroyo said.
Brumfield completed 77.8% of his passes (21 of 27) for 211 passing yards and two touchdowns. He also added 100 rushing yards and two rushing scores. Robbins averaged 7.8 yards per carry on 227 total rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Heading into the second half, the Rebels came out with a sense of urgency to put away the Mean Green. UNLV’s defense forced a three-and-out and gave the Rebel offense the ball back. UNLV proceeded to drive down the field in six plays for 61 yards for a touchdown. Brumfield outran the North Texas defense and scrambled for a 29-yard touchdown.
North Texas responded with their own 75 yard drive in 3 plays. Capped off with a 54-yard touchdown play action pass down the middle of the field from quarterback Austin Aune to tight end Var’Keyes Gumms; to make it a 30-27 game. However, this would be the last time that North Texas would score.
Heading into their eighth drive of the game, the Rebels would score on three drives in a row. Beginning with another Brumfield touchdown run. He dodged a defender, and scored an 8-yard rushing touchdown to put UNLV’s lead back to double digits, 37-27.
North Texas would come back and drive 57 yards in 9 plays, but would be denied on 4th down by the Rebels’ defense. Just as Brumfield and Robbins scoring became a regularity, so did fourth down stops by the Rebels’ defense. The stop early in the third quarter was their first of three on the day.
The Rebels’ could start to feel that they had a hold of this game and started to control the ball. They put together a drive that took over seven minutes off the game clock, as they drove 82 yards in 15 plays. Robbins would finish the drive off with a 1-yard rushing touchdown. His third and final touchdown on the day as the UNLV lead grew to 44-27.
North Texas showed signs of life as they drove 74 yards in 9 plays to reach the Rebels’ 1-yard line. They opted to go for it on fourth down in hopes that they’d be able to score and get back into the game. UNLV defensive lineman Tavis Malakaius and defensive back Nohl Williams had other plans as they stuffed North Texas running back Oscar Adaway at the goal line, preventing him from scoring.
The Rebels then went for the “knockout blow” Arroyo had been wanting his team to deliver as they started to put away the Mean Green. They drove 99 yards in just 6 plays and scored off a 9-yard touchdown pass from Brumfield to sophomore wide receiver Ricky White.
While facing a growing deficit, North Texas attempted to make its comeback but back-to-back interceptions from Aune ended those chances. He threw interceptions to sophomore defensive backs Jordyn Morgan and Cameron Oliver. Oliver’s was returned 20 yards for the game’s final touchdown, making the margin of victory for the Rebels at 31 points.
“It’s been an awesome first couple weeks of getting engaged and excited about the brand of football that we are playing,” Arroyo said. “It’s a big deal for us, it fuels us to come in here and make this place hard to play in — that’s what we’re trying to push for.”
Brumfield’s first touchdown pass came in the first quarter when he completed a 23-yard pass to Kyle Williams. The lead was short-lived as after North Texas returned the ensuing kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown.
The Rebels answered with a couple of plays on defense. Defensive back Jerrae Williams went untouched and sacked Aune for a loss of 10 yards. This forced North Texas to punt, which only led to defensive back BJ Harris blocking the punt. The ball ended up rolling in and then out of the end zone, resulting in a safety.
North Texas added a field goal after forcing UNLV into a three-and-out. UNLV answered with a 17 play, 75 yard drive capped off by a 2-yard run by Robbins. He added another score with a 33-yard touchdown run that made it a 13-point lead for UNLV.
The Rebels’ (2-1) travel to Logan, Utah, where they’ll face off against the Utah State Aggies Saturday Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. for their first Mountain West Conference game of the season.