Otto Kitsinger / AP
Friday, Nov. 18, 2016 | 10 p.m.
UNLV traveled to Boise State for Friday night’s contest hoping for a miracle win that would propel the program toward bowl eligibility. Instead, Tony Sanchez’s squad got a heavy dose of blue-tinged reality, as Boise State dominated the underdog Rebels and sent them home with a 42-25 loss and their postseason hopes dashed.
Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols proved nearly impossible for the Rebels to bring down, as the junior rushed for 206 yards on 31 carries while tacking on his 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th touchdowns of the season.
An upset was on the table for a few minutes, at least. The Rebels made the game’s first big play, as safety Kenny Keys forced a fumble deep in Boise territory on the opening possession, and Troy Hawthorne recovered to give UNLV the ball with excellent field position. The Rebels were in danger of squandering the opportunity, but Kurt Palandech converted a 4th-and-16 with a 26-yard pass to Tim Holt to move the ball into the red zone. After a goal-line stop by the Boise State defense, Evan Pantels kicked a short field goal to give UNLV a 3-0 lead.
That was the high point for the Rebels.
Boise State responded with a monster, 19-play scoring drive that covered 74 yards and spanned more than eight minutes. The Rebels’ defense was unable to get off the field, allowing three third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion before Brett Rypien finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge to give BSU the lead.
Boise State’s second scoring drive was much quicker. After a three-and-out from the UNLV offense, Cedrick Wilson returned the punt 73 yards to the UNLV 6. The next play was a handoff to McNichols, who outran the defense to the left pylon to make it 14-3.
Another short McNichols touchdown made it 21-3 midway through the second quarter, and UNLV never got within single digits again.
UNLV was unable to generate offense without top wideout Devonte Boyd and top running back Lexington Thomas, both of whom missed the game due to injury. The Rebels’ most productive wide receiver was Dalton Sneed (one catch, 10 yards), a quarterback by trade who started five games under center this season before changing positions earlier this week to add depth to the thin receiving corps.
The Rebels’ best drives came when they were able to keep the ball on the ground. On their first touchdown drive, they ran 11 times and passed just once. On the second touchdown drive, it was 13 runs and one pass. Junior quarterback Kurt Palandech finished off both drives with touchdown runs.
For the game, Palandech completed 10-of-20 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. He also led the Rebels with 64 yards rushing.
The Rebels’ final hope was extinguished early in the fourth quarter. Trailing 35-17, the UNLV defense got a third-down stop and forced a Boise State punt from midfield, but sophomore Salah Boyce was called for a personal foul on the punt, giving Boise an automatic first down. On the next play, McNichols sprinted 31 yards untouched to the end zone to make it 42-17 with 8:40 to play.
UNLV now sits at 4-7 on the season (3-4 Mountain West), leaving a bowl game out of reach. The season will conclude with next week’s rivalry matchup against UNR at Sam Boyd Stadium.