"I'm happy and excited for our team," head coach Rocky Long said after the game. "I thought they went out and played hard and executed well enough to win a game."
The Rebels owned the first few minutes of the game. They forced SDSU into an ugly three-and-out on its first possession. Then wide receiver Jay Mitchell returned an SDSU punt 48 yards to the Aztec 13-yard line en route to an early 3-0 lead.
But SDSU sure didn't look ugly much for the rest of the game and handily beat UNLV in front of a Qualcomm crowd that hadn't seen its Aztecs since week one against Northern Arizona.
SDSU more than doubled their total offense from last week, gaining 466 overall yards opposed to 215 last week. The Aztecs also kept a clean sheet today, recording zero turnovers and forcing two. If SDSU doesn't beat itself and protects the ball week in and week out, it should be able to win a lot of games in the wide-open MWC west division.
Quarterback Quinn Kaehler played his best game of the year. He didn't throw any touchdowns, but he flexed his high football IQ and finished with no picks and 209 yards on 16-27 passing.
Running back Donnel Pumphrey also played his best game--he'll be a front-runner for Mountain West Player of the Week. The sophomore back finished with 167 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries; he found open space quite often and imposed his will on a weak UNLV rush defense.
Pumphrey gave a lot of the credit to his offensive line.
"Our offensive line controlled the line the whole game, and they were able to open up holes," he said. "I was able to get through and we controlled the game."
An unexpected bright spot for SDSU was junior wide receiver Larry Clark. Clark, the injured Ezell Ruffin's replacement, caught four passes for 71 yards after snagging only one pass for four yards against OSU. Fellow receiver Jemond Hazely sang Clark's praises after the game on Twitter.
Long also commended his young wide receivers after the game.
"I thought they went up and got the ball a couple, three times to make the quarterback look good," he said. "That's the receiver's job."
UNLV quarterback Blake Decker played his mind out, even with his top target Devante Davis sidelined. He kept the Rebels in the game for longer than most might have thought they would be. He completed 18 of 31 passes for 346 yards and a touchdown. He also ran it 19 times for 38 yards and a touchdown.
However, he did throw two key interceptions deep in Aztec territory. Cornerback Billy Vaughn, Jr. picked him off in the second and linebacker Calvin Munson picked him off in the third. Those turnovers effectively killed any chance UNLV had to pull off the upset.