Where has this team been all season?
Finally, we are seeing some fight in this team. I'm using words that I have not used this season: Fast, confident, aggressive. The only UNLV wasn't able to overcome in Honolulu? The Aloha Stadium clock operator.
Freshman quarterback Jared Lebowitz performed admirably, as expected, which gives some hope for the future. When backup Blake Decker entered the game with 12:10 left in the final quarter, though, the Rebels trailed by 10 points. Decker contributed three touchdowns to bring the Rebels up by four with 15 seconds left in the game after a touchdown pass to back Taylor Barnhill.
It's unfortunate that another mental error put Hawaii in a position to win, similar to what Rebels fans have seen earlier this season. Two players not involved in the play were flagged with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after running down the sideline, celebrating without their helmets on after the late Rebel touchdown. 30 yards of penalties were marked off on the ensuing kickoff, and this allowed the Rainbow Warriors to begin their final drive on the UNLV 42-yard line.
The final play that put the game in Hawaii's hands occurred after an incomplete pass. Only four seconds were taken off the game clock. UNLV coach Bobby Hauck later noted that the play his belief that the play took longer than the clock suggested and expressed frustration that the officials could not review it.
Ultimately, though, UNLV cannot feel that they were shortchanged with the outcome. They return to Las Vegas knowing that they should have won that game and, if they'd made fewer unforced errors, it wouldn't have mattered how many time that incomplete pass took off the clock. This team one has displayed too many extremes, high and low. The Rebels could benefit greatly from striving for more consistency that would, with any luck, eliminate penalties.
Look at some of the top football teams in the country. Notice how calm they are no matter the circumstances of the game. You never see Oregon's Marcus Mariota sweat, and that's a big reason why he's on his way to a Heisman.
Now, it's onto rival UNR. It's anyone's guess whether Bobby Hauck needs to win this game to save his job, but it wouldn't hurt. Hopefully, the Rebels won't make mistakes that allow other forces like game officials to control the outcome like happened in Hawaii.