2018’s edition of the Fremont Cannon game will be remembered as an epic collapse by the Wolf Pack, who blew a 23-0 first quarter lead to UNLV. And the Rebels completed an astonishing comeback and won 34-29.
2019 was almost a replay of 2018, but with the roles reversed. Almost.
UNLV sprinted out to a 17-0 lead and held a 24-13 halftime advantage, but UNR came thundering back to force the game to overtime tied at 27-27. But the Rebels came up clutch in overtime, holding the Wolf Pack to a field goal and then scoring a touchdown to win 33-30 and keep the Fremont Cannon scarlet and grey.
The Rebels used big plays to jump out to its early lead. It started with an 80 yard Charles Williams touchdown run, it was the only play of the drive that lasted ten seconds. UNLV put together another quick drive shortly after, this time through the air. Kenyon Oblad connected with Mekhi Stevenson for a 32-yard touchdown pass
The Rebels came into the game thin at the receiver position. Tyleek Collins and Randal Grimes did not make the trip up to Reno. Collins was battling a rib injury and Grimes violated team rules. It gave someone else deeper on the depth chart to shine, and Steve Jenkins shined. Jenkins caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Oblad at the end of the half to give UNLV a 24-13 advantage entering the locker room.
The Wolf Pack came back in the fourth quarter. After a scoreless third quarter, UNR added two touchdowns to tie the game at 27-27 and send it to overtime, for the first time in the history of the rivalry.
In overtime, UNR tacked on a field goal, thanks to the UNLV defense forcing a three-and-out. The Rebels got the ball back and wasted no time. Oblad connected with Jenkins for the second time of the game to win the game, and keep the cannon in Las Vegas.
Then, chaos broke out.
After scoring, Jenkins ran down the UNR sideline and waved, but that was not where the confrontation started. With UNLV celebrating in the endzone, near the section of the field with the most UNR fans were, Oblad was sucker-punched by UNR’s Ashton Arnold. Then, several UNLV linemen went and knocked down Arnold and the fighting escalated.
UNLV’s Jackson Renyolds had his helmet snatched by a UNR fan as the scrum moved towards the stand. As of now, there has not been any suspensions and disciplinary actions on either side, but the universities and conference is reviewing the film.
The fighting took a little bit of the shine off of UNLV’s win. This is the second consecutive year that the Rebels have won the cannon, and third time in five years. Kenyon Oblad had his best game on the air. He went 16/22 with three touchdowns and 229 passing yards.
Williams had another solid day on the ground. He rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 20 touches.
This game also marks the last game for Tony Sanchez as the head coach of UNLV. Sanchez finishes his UNLV tenure at 20-40, with a 3-2 record against the Wolf Pack.
UNLV’s season will not wind down anytime soon. The Rebels will now officially begin the coaching search to find its new leader for next year and beyond. They will have to act swiftly, as the early signing period begins on December 19th, and the Rebels must have a coach in place by then to keep in a quality recruiting class.