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UNLV vs. Idaho recap: Rebels lose to Vandals in overtime

UNLV needed this win if they were to get in the neighborhood of bowl eligibility.

UNLV v UCLA Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

At 1-2, the Rebels were looking to even up their record before beginning conference play next week. With their first home game in two weeks, the Rebels looked to be the favorites but Idaho had other plans. Taking control of the game early, Idaho held the lead for most of the way until late in the fourth quarter when the Rebels tied it up and sent the game into overtime. However, the extra time was no help to UNLV as the Vandals were able to pull it out in the end and escape Las Vegas with a 33-30 victory.

The game started with UNLV getting off to a porous start as linebacker Kaden Elliss intercepted quarterback Johnny Stanton for a 31 yard pick six to put the Vandals up 7-0 early. UNLV looked as if they would answer back with a score of their, driving down the field on their next possession. But after a 46 yard run by Lexington Thomas, the Rebels’ drive stalled at the Idaho 15 and they were forced to punt.

Both teams exchanged drives throughout the first quarter, but neither was able to move the ball much. Heading into the second quarter, it was much of the same as both teams failed to keep drives going. Following a second interception by Kaden Ellis, the Vandal offense took advantage of the turnover by extending their lead to 10-0 with a field goal.

With Idaho holding all of the momentum, it was time for the Rebel offense to respond. On their next drive, UNLV drove down the field and finally got on the board thanks to a four yard run from Lexington Thomas. Now only trailing by three points, the Rebels had given themselves some breathing room as the quarter waned down, but Idaho quickly reapplied the pressure as they answered with a score of their own on the following drive thanks to running back Aaron Duckworth and his four yard run which extended their lead back to 10 points.

Not to be out done, the Rebels followed suit and had a nice drive of their own, ending the half with a Marc Philippi four yard catch to bring the game back within three points at 17-14.

In the second half, it was a battle of the kickers as both teams exchanged field goals to keep the game close. Things finally heated up in the fourth quarter however as the Vandals drove down the field and punched it in on a QB sneak by Matt Linehan. The Rebels promptly responded with a 55 yard run by Lexington Thomas on the following drive. It was Thomas’ second touchdown of the night and his sixth of the season.

Tied at 27 with little time remaining, both teams played it safe and headed to overtime. UNLV received the ball first and drove down the field, but were unable to punch it in for the touchdown, instead settling for the field goal to take a 30-27 lead. Now it was Idaho’s turn. With the ball at UNLV’s 25 yard line, the Vandals drove down to the Rebel’s 11 yard line where Matt Linehan threw the game winning pass to receiver Callen Hightower.

The loss is UNLV’s third in a row, and drops them to 1-3 on the season. With league play set to start next week against Fresno State, the Rebels’ season could quickly slip out of hand if they don’t start playing better, particularly Johnny Stanton, who again was shaky in the first half.

The Rebels take on the Bulldogs next Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.