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Cowboys run all over young, inexperienced Rebels

UNLV suffered its worse loss of the season after its scheduled game against Colorado State last week was canceled.

NCAA Football: Wyoming at UNLV Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

On the second play of the game in Friday night’s game between Wyoming and UNLV, Cowboys running back Xavier Valladay went right up the middle, untouched for a 78- yard touchdown run. It was a sign of things to come in the game for UNLV as Wyoming’s running backs had a field day against a thin and inexperienced UNLV defense.

Wyoming racked up 399 total rushing yards and 498 total yards on offense as they blew out the Rebels 45-17. Both teams were playing its first games in a while due to COVID cancelations, the Rebels had its game last week canceled and the Cowboys have had its last two games canceled and have not played since Nov. 5.

As lopsided as the score was, the Rebels had a chance to get it to a one possession game early in the third quarter. UNLV was trailing 17-0 with under three minutes to play before halftime and the Rebels put together a 98-yard touchdown drive, from a two-yard Max Gilliam run, with seconds remaining and getting the ball to start the second half.

But on its first drive of the second half, UNLV turned it over on downs on a questionable fourth down play and Wyoming scored on the ensuing drive. It was a part of a third quarter that saw the Cowboys score 21 unanswered points and put the game out of reach for the Rebels.

The extra time due to the canceled game did not help the Rebels in its preparation for Wyoming. UNLV was down 49 players last week due to positive test and contact tracing, which made practice looking scarce with not a lot of bodies and the team having to rely on a lot of freshmen and inexperienced players.

“I’m excited for some of the young guys that got a chance to get out there today and to see them step up in the course of this week, my hat’s off to them having to jump in,” Arroyo said. “Twelve freshmen plus seven walk-ons having to go in and compete and have to work in the course of a week is something to be proud of in that regard.”

Freshmen defensive players LeShaun Bell and Brennon Scott both made appearances late in the game for UNLV on defense, where the Rebels have relied on a lot of freshmen this year. On offense, Arroyo turned to his fourth quarterback of the year, true freshmen Doug Brumfield.

The Rebels went to Brumfield late in the first quarter and he and Gilliam were each swapped out throughout the rest of the game. Brumfield scrambled for an eight-yard touchdown run late in the game to make the final score 45-14. Senior running back Charles Williams praised Brumfield for the energy he brings and Arroyo has been impressed with Brumfield’s progression throughout the year and he could see some playing time against Boise State next week.

“Doug’s had a nice week, we’ve watch Doug throughout our season and our camp keep developing,” Arroyo said. “He’s got some tools…he did some nice things maturing throughout…I thought he did a nice job.”

“We’ll continue to push forward and evaluate the quarterback position. If we feel there is an opportunity there for Doug to give us the best chance…we’re not afraid to do that,” Arroyo continued.

Brumfield finished the night completing four of his eight passes for 93 yards and had 24 rushing yards on eight carries, including that late touchdown. Gilliam completed 11 of 19 passes for 65 yards and ran for 84 more.

There are only two games left in the season, and next week’s game against Boise State could be in question after the Broncos had its game against San Jose State was canceled due to positive test in the Boise State program. The Rebels are remaining optimistic and continuing to work hard in the final games of the season to try and get that first win of the year.

“We got to keep working at it and keep knocking on the wood, and I guess something will break eventually,” senior running back Charles Williams said. “But we got to make that happen, we got to earn that, we can’t expect it to be given to us. We got to earn that right and I feel like it’s coming soon.”