A week after hanging with UCLA for a majority of the game, UNLV went into this week looking to add another notch in the win column as they took on the Central Michigan Chippewas, who themselves, were coming off of a crazy finish last week against Oklahoma State. The two teams battled it out early on, but in the end, much like the UCLA game, the Rebels were not able to keep up and eventually gave in to a high powered Central Michigan offense as they fell to 1-2 on the season with a 44-21 loss.
The first quarter started slow but eventually picked up after Central Michigan went three and out on their first possession. With the Chippewas forced to punt, the Rebels’ special teams stepped up when defensive lineman Salanoa-Alo Wily broke through the Chippewas’ line for the block. Running back Charles Williams recovered the ball and put UNLV up 7-0.
Following the blocked punt, both teams exchanged drives, going three and out until Central Michigan’s Jesse Kroll beat his defender and scored a 33 yard touchdown to tie the game. With the game now tied, UNLV regained control but was unable to move the ball due to numerous penalty calls and a stout Central Michigan defense.
Unable to do anything, the Rebels punted away but the punt was short and Central Michigan was given great field position. Wasting little time, quarterback Cooper Rush and the offense drove down the field in two plays, reaching the endzone on a play action pass to receiver Mark Chapman, giving the Chippewas a 14-7 lead.
Feeling the momentum slip away, UNLV began to crumble. On the ensuing drive, quarterback Johnny Stanton was intercepted on third and six after his pass bounced off of receiver Mekhi Stevenson’s hands and into the defender’s. Fortunately for the Rebels, Central Michigan was unable to do anything with the ball and were forced to punt it away.
On their next drive, it looked as if the Rebels’ sails had been completely deflated as the Chippewa defense stuffed them on the first two drives. However, on third down, running back Lexington Thomas busted out for an 85 yard run to tie the game at 14 .
With the score all tied up once again, UNLV had found new life. After forcing Central Michigan into a third and out, the Rebels drove down the field and finally punched it in with a 2 yard pass from Stanton to receiver Darren Woods Jr to go up 21-14. Unfortunately for UNLV, the lead did not last long. With five plus minutes left in the half, wide receiver Mark Chapman caught his second touchdown pass of the day after connecting with Cooper Rush for 29 yards to tie the game once more.
Both teams went back and forth for a bit before the Chippewas took the lead at the end of the half with a 26 yard touchdown catch by receiver Corey Willis.
Entering the second half, scoring from both sides came to a halt as neither team was able to move the ball. That all changed as the third quarter died down though as Central Michigan extended their lead by two touchdowns after Corey Willis caught his second touchdown of the day, this time the touchdown coming after a three play, 48 yard drive.
Now leading 35-21, it looked as though Central Michigan had finally taken all of the momentum from the Rebels, and it was all to true on UNLV’s next drive. After going three and out again, the Rebels had their punt blocked into the endzone for a Chippewa safety when defensive back Winslow Chapman broke through the UNLV line.
As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Rebels, things continued to go south on their next drive as they could not get any forward movement going, and eventually turned the ball over when Johnny Stanton was intercepted by linebacker Nathan Ricketts.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Rebels nightmarish day continued as Brandon Rush connected with receiver Brandon Childress for his fifth touchdown of the day as the two connected for a 42 yard pass to put Central Michigan up 44-21 and seal the victory.
With back to back road losses, the Rebels will now head home where they will take on the Idaho Vandals and try to even up their record. That game will be next Saturday, September 24th at 6pm PT.