UNLV football loses 5th straight, falls to Fresno State

UNLV and Aidan Robbins had been in this position before. Literally.

Just one drive earlier, UNLV faced fourth-and-1 on its own 34-yard line. Fresno State packed the box, but Robbins, a junior running back, found a crease and burst through for a 66-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion tied the game at 27 with more than nine minutes remaining.

Fresno State responded with a quick touchdown, and two minutes later, facing fourth-and-1 on its own 34-yard line again, UNLV gave the ball to Robbins. This time, he was immediately wrapped up for a 1-yard loss as two Fresno State defenders flew in unblocked from the left side.

“They had a really good defensive call on that,” Robbins said. “We simply didn’t execute.”

The Bulldogs took the ball over on downs and eventually kicked a field goal to take a two-score lead.

Despite hanging with Fresno State for more than three quarters, UNLV lost 37-30 on Friday at Allegiant Stadium, doomed by red-zone execution.

It was UNLV’s fifth consecutive defeat. Now, the Rebels (4-6, 2-4 Mountain West) must win their final two games against Hawaii and UNR to achieve bowl eligibility.

“We didn’t finish it off,” UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo said. “Now we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and do it all over again.”

The Rebels fixed most of their issues from last week’s 14-10 loss to San Diego State. UNLV took care of the ball, and sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield looked more settled, even though he was playing behind an offensive line that was missing starting right tackle Tiger Shanks because of a lower body injury.

Brumfield completed 18 of 33 passes for 172 yards and also rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown, rediscovering his control of the Rebels’ offense. Junior Kyle Williams was Brumfield’s best target, hauling in six catches for 43 yards.

Robbins remained the Rebels’ best offensive weapon, though, running for 144 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

Robbins’ running and Brumfield’s scrambling ability helped the Rebels control the pace of the game early, as UNLV held possession of the ball for more than 20 minutes of the first half.

However, the Rebels struggled to find the end zone. Sixth-year kicker Daniel Gutierrez was 5-for-5 on field goal attempts, setting a school record for the most made field goals in a game, but four of his attempts came from inside the Fresno 25.

“We need to finish those with sevens,” Arroyo said.

The Rebels’ biggest missed opportunity came with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half, when sophomore Ricky White was unable to catch a well-thrown fade by Brumfield on third-and-goal. UNLV settled for a field goal to go into the break leading 16-14.

Fresno State (6-4, 5-1) got the ball to start the second half and scored 10 consecutive points to take a 24-16 lead.

UNLV needed as many points as possible facing Fresno State. The highest-scoring offense in the Mountain West entering Friday, the Bulldogs never punted.

Quarterback Jake Haener went 28-for-34 for 313 yards and three touchdowns, and UNLV only forced one turnover — a fumble in Bulldogs territory that resulted, predictably, in a Gutierrez field goal.

“Every possession matters against an experienced team like that,” Arroyo said.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at [email protected]. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

UNLV football loses 5th straight, falls to Fresno State

Fresno State handed the UNLV football team its fifth straight loss Friday, beating the Rebels 37-30 at Allegiant Stadium.

Junior running back Aidan Robbins rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown for UNLV (4-6, 2-4 Mountain West).

Sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield threw for 172 yards and also rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown for the Rebels.

Fresno State improved to 6-4 (5-1).

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at [email protected]. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

UNLV quarterback Doug Brumfield compares to Randall Cunningham

Doug Brumfield was a freshman quarterback at UNLV when he received his first taste of college ball against Wyoming. Later that evening, while walking with his parents, Brumfield’s phone began ringing.

“It was from Las Vegas,” he said. “I don’t know how he got my number. He was like, ‘This is Mr. Cunningham.’ I was like, ‘Oh, the Mr. Cunningham?

“Since then, we’ve talked every week. I’ve always known about him, being an African American quarterback and looking up to the guys who came before us.”

There is no greater compliment to bestow a UNLV player, no better comparison for which to be included than to be mentioned in the same breath as Randall Cunningham. Brumfield is aware.

No one better

Cunningham stands alone in the annals of UNLV’s program — he’s the only Rebels football player to have his number retired — having been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

Accomplishments: He still owns 13 school records. Those include passing attempts (1,029), completions (596) and yards (8,020). He also holds the punting average marks for a game (58.0), season (47.5) and career (45.6).

He played for four NFL teams and ranks third all-time for rushing yards by a quarterback.

Brumfield, who will lead the Rebels against Fresno State on Friday night at Allegiant Stadium, is a player who has forged a relationship with Cunningham far beyond 100 yards of turf.

“Doug is an amazing kid,” Cunningham said. “I think he could (one day) be an NFL player and first-round draft pick if we take care of him and keep him healthy. He’s developing into a great leader. He’s only a sophomore. He reminds me of myself, just instead slinging it from the (left) side.”

You see why so many have made the connection between Cunningham then and Brumfield now. The former stands 6-foot-4 and Brumfield 6-5. Big arms, capable of making plays with their feet, all spindly and athletic.

YouTube clips. That’s where Brumfield has studied Cunningham the most, where he has witnessed the brilliance that created such a historic UNLV career.

The passes, the runs, the moves, the leadership.

“I watch and say that one day, I’m going to do stuff like that here,” Brumfield said. “We talk about football and life, about ways to be a better man as well as a football player. It’s really just motivation, when people see that type of potential in you.”

He returned against San Diego State last week after missing nearly three games from a concussion and ankle injury, a 14-10 win by the Aztecs. There was some obvious rust to Brumfield. He wasn’t the quarterback who led the Rebels to a 4-1 start. He hopes that changes Friday with a game now back in action under his belt.

The good news for UNLV: A preseason goal of becoming bowl eligible remains more than possible and would take winning two of a final three games — home to the Bulldogs, at Hawaii and home to UNR.

No matter which way things go, Brumfield will assuredly hear from Cunningham.

Encourage another

“I’m working hard to get better and better,” Brumfield said. “When we talk, he gives me lots of tips. What I did right, what I did wrong, what I need to work on, what I need to do to take the next step forward. Hopefully, the sky is the limit.”

Here’s something else Cunningham admires about Brumfield: The player’s maturity.

“Nowadays, the younger generation is different,” said Cunningham, senior pastor at Remnant Ministries in Las Vegas. “We’ve tried to make things easier on our kids. They’re a little more light going, a little more sensitive. Doug, though, is a kid who gets it. When I talk to him, I just encourage. My whole thing is that if I can encourage people, I’m fulfilling part of my assignment (in life).”

There is no greater compliment to bestow a UNLV player, no better comparison.

Be sure of it. Doug Brumfield is aware.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at [email protected]. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter

UNLV women’s basketball team rolls past Pepperdine in season opener

UNLV women’s basketball senior guard Essence Booker said there’s a difference between head coach Lindy La Rocque and associate head coach Roman Owen.

She admits Owen is more fiery on the sidelines but said that’s what the team needs.

“He’s very aggressive,” Booker said. “He just wants to win. He’s very passionate, and I felt like it rubbed off on us and we carried that into the game.”

Despite not having La Rocque — who announced on Sunday she had given birth to her first child — the Lady Rebels didn’t miss a beat. The reigning Mountain West champions rolled past Pepperdine 80-58 in their season opener Monday night at Cox Pavilion.

Owen, who is filling in for La Rocque as she recovers from her pregnancy, said he was pleased with the poise the Lady Rebels showed in their first regular-season game.

“They’re going to have to be able to stick together,” Owen said. “When someone makes a big shot or they’re making a run, we have to be connected and stay together. I really felt like we did a good job of that.”

Booker and senior guard Justice Ethridge led UNLV with 17 points each. Junior forward Desi-Rae Young finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.

UNLV shot 66.7 percent from the field in the first quarter to take an eight-point lead.

The Lady Rebels pulled away in the second quarter as they went on a 12-0 run to increase their lead to double-digits. They limited Pepperdine to 31.3 percent shooting from the field and went into halftime with a 42-27 advantage.

Owen said an emphasis coming into the game was controlling the offensive boards. Consider that mission accomplished. UNLV limited Pepperdine to nine offensive rebounds after it allowed 22 in its exhibition win last Wednesday.

UNLV held a 38-16 advantage in points in the lane. Owen credited the play of sophomore forward Alyssa Brown off the bench for the advantage UNLV had inside.

In 20 minutes, Brown had nine points and four rebounds. Brown’s teammates felt the impact she made on the floor.

“Alyssa always comes in and gives us a spark and brings the energy,” said Ethridge, who added nine rebounds. “She’s always coming in and getting big rebounds. She’s just a good component to have on our team.”

Owen said the game felt normal to him despite moving one chair over on the bench. Before the game, he said La Rocque gave him some advice, reminding him to be himself.

While there is no timetable for La Rocque’s return, Owen said his focus is on maintaining the program’s standards while La Rocque is gone.

“I want to protect it,” Owen said. “Protect what Lindy has already built here, what our staff has built, what our team has built, and just continue to try to do the very best we can day by day.”

Both Booker and Ethridge said that while it’s not La Rocque’s voice they’re hearing on the sidelines, nothing has changed.

“We handled business,” Ethridge said. “With Lindy being gone and coach Owen stepping up and filling that void, I feel like we brought a lot of energy and that motivated us.”

UNLV’s next game is at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Oral Roberts at Cox Pavilion.

Contact Alex Wright at [email protected]. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.