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UNLV head coach Tony Sanchez on winning the West: "It's still doable"

After Saturday night's home heartbreaker against San Jose State, UNLV head coach Tony Sanchez says his team can still win the division.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night was a bitter pill for the UNLV Rebels football team. Entering the game with all sorts of momentum following a victory over Nevada last week in Reno, the Rebs overcame a lackluster first half showing against the San Jose State Spartans to score on all three drives in the fourth quarter, including a 49 yard field goal with 11 seconds left to send the game to overtime. There wasn't much more football played after that. UNLV ran three plays, netting the loss of a yard, before a 43 yard field goal attempt was blocked. San Jose State followed with four straight rushes from Tyler Ervin, the last from 2 yards out, finding the end zone and giving the Spartans a 33-27 overtime win in Las Vegas. After the game UNLV head coach Tony Sanchez addressed the difficult loss.

"You should see our locker room, it's absolutely devastated in there, and that's a though thing. At the same time, it's a positive thing because these are games we expect to win now when we go out and play with that type of attitude. It hurts because we know those are games that are very winnable for us. We aren't being pushed around or walked over anymore. Those are games that we are fighting to the very end."

"Unfortunate outcome. I thought we did some good things. There are some things definitely to continue to improve on. Guys played hard, showed a lot of character, but these are one of those where you feel like you got kicked in the gut a little bit. We are going to sulk about it for about 24 hours and get right back to work on Fresno."

Quarterback Kurt Palandech, starting for the injured Blake Decker, overcame a shaky first half in which he threw a pair of interceptions to finish with 217 yards through the air, 73 on the ground, and two passing touchdowns. Coach Sanchez addressed the, at times, inconsistent play from Palandech.

"I thought he did a good job extending plays. There are times I feel he could have gotten the ball out a little faster, and then there are sometimes where he made some great throws. Unfortunately, we still had some drops. And I'll tell you what, when you have a young guy in there, and you know you got third downs, and balls are being dropped on first down, it forces us to kind of run the ball in some bad situations. You know what, I am really proud of him. He came out and he did a really good job, and at the end of that half to be able to take us back, to gain that lead, being a young guy, a sophomore, he did a really great job."

Despite the difficult loss on Saturday, Sanchez made it clear that the goal for UNLV remains unchanged.

"We want to play for the conference championship, we want to win the West. Now it's going to be a tougher road, but it's still doable and we just got to refocus and go play a great game Friday night in Fresno."

The UNLV Rebels and Fresno State Bulldogs will meet at Bulldog Stadium, Friday, October 16th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30pm PT and the game will be televised on ESPN2.