Live blog: Rogers leads Rebels to 38-35 win at New Mexico

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L.E. Baskow

UNLV Rebels quarterback Johnny Stanton (4) dives for a few more yards on the Hawaii Warriors during their game at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017.

Updated Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 | 9:57 p.m.

Armani Rogers hit Kendal Keys for a go-ahead 15-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds to play, and UNLV pulled out a frantic 38-35 win at New Mexico.

The Rebels took over possession at the 22-yard line, trailing 35-30 with 1:05 to play. Rogers hit Darren Woods for a 50-yard run-and-catch inside the 20, and on the next play he hit Keys with a back-shoulder pass to take the lead.

After a successful 2-point conversion, Chauncey Scissum intercepted a desperation pass from New Mexico QB Lamar Jordan to seal it.

The win improves UNLV to 5-6 and keeps the Rebels' bowl hopes alive. Because of Rogers' heroics (193 rushing yards, 211 passing yards), a win at UNR next week will earn UNLV a postseason berth.

UNLV leads 30-28 in final minutes at New Mexico

Evan Pantels kicked a 40-yard field goal with 6:11 remaining, and UNLV has a slim, 30-28 lead at New Mexico.

Now it's up to the Rebels' defense to hold it, which is a precarious proposition—UNLV has already allowed more than 400 rushing yards, and New Mexico is averaging more than eight yards per carry.

New Mexico takes late 28-27 lead over UNLV

New Mexico just marched 80 yards on six plays—all running plays—to take a 28-27 lead over UNLV with 9:17 to play.

Running back Tyrone Owens (158 yards) did the honors with a 2-yard TD plunge.

UNLV has now allowed 417 rushing yards on 8.7 yards per carry, and UNM's ground game appears to be getting stronger as the game goes on. The Rebels will have to score and figure out how to defend in the final nine minutes if they want to keep their season alive.

UNLV clinging to 27-21 fourth-quarter lead at New Mexico

Heading into the fourth quarter, UNLV is clinging to a 27-21 lead at New Mexico.

The Rebels let two key scoring chances slip through the fingers in the third quarter. First, they squandered a goal-to-go situation on their first possession and had to settle for a short field goal to make it 27-21. Then, late in the quarter UNM muffed a punt in the red zone and UNLV's Tim Hough had a chance for a clear recovery, but the ball bounced away and New Mexico retained possession.

UNLV opened the half with a 24-14 lead, but New Mexico took the opening kickoff and marched 81 yards in six plays to trim the deficit to 24-21. For the game, UNM has rushed for 337 yards on 8.0 yards per carry.

UNLV football leads New Mexico at half

UNLV's two biggest playmakers scored long touchdowns in the final minutes of the first half, and the Rebels have a 24-14 lead over New Mexico at halftime.

Trailing, 14-10, it was junior running back Lexington Thomas who gave UNLV a much-needed spark with a 60-yard touchdown run. After the Rebels' defense forced a 3-and-out, freshman quarterback Armani Rogers took the next snap and broke free for an 83-yard touchdown run.

Rogers finished the first half with 142 rushing yards and 93 passing yards, while Thomas racked up 89 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, UNLV is once again struggling to contain an option-based attack. New Mexico ran for 237 yards in the first half, including a 98-yard scoring drive that saw UNM run the ball 12 straight times for a touchdown. New Mexico running backs Tyrone Owens and Daryl Chestnut have combined for exactly 200 rushing yards.

New Mexico will receive the second-half kickoff.

UNLV football up 10-0 at New Mexico

Behind a hot start from freshman quarterback Armani Rogers, UNLV has quickly built a 10-0 lead over New Mexico, and the Rebels were driving again at the end of the first quarter.

Rogers led the Rebels to a field goal on the game's opening drive, and after a defensive stop, Lexington Thomas capped a 10-play, 82-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run to make it 10-0.

The UNLV defense forced a quick 3-and-out on New Mexico's next possession, and a 25-yard pass from Rogers to Brandon Presley has the Rebels at the UNM 38 as the second quarter is set to begin.

Rogers has already passed for 92 yards and rushed for another 62. Thomas has 23 rushing yards on five carries.

Rogers gets start for UNLV football

Armani Rogers got the start at quarterback for UNLV, and the freshman looked impressive on the Rebels' opening drive, leading the offense to a field goal and an early 3-0 lead.

Rogers completed his first and only pass attempt, a 13-yarder to move the chains on the second play of the game, and he also rushed for 29 yards on three carries on the drive.

Three keys for UNLV football at New Mexico

It’s as simple as this: UNLV needs to win tonight, on the road at New Mexico (6:30 p.m., ESPN 2), or any hopes of qualifying for a bowl game will be dashed in a very official, very final way.

Can the Rebels pull it off? Three keys to watch:

QB decision

Tony Sanchez didn’t tip his hand during the week, declining to name a starting quarterback before game time. But he did strongly intimate that both senior Johnny Stanton and freshman Armani Rogers will play tonight, with Rogers perhaps getting the edge due to his running ability.

If either QB heats up, look for Sanchez to ride him as long and as far as he can.

Defense optional

UNLV has played two teams that run an option-based offense, and both times the Rebels were left flailing as the opposing quarterbacks broke off big play after big play. In the season-opening loss to Howard, Caylin Newton ran for 194 yards and two touchdowns. In a loss to Air Force on Oct. 14, it was Arion Worthman racking up 171 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

New Mexico’s option attack isn’t identical to Howard’s or Air Force’s, but there are enough similarities to worry the UNLV defense. UNM quarterback Lamar Jordan hasn’t shown game-breaking running ability this season (226 yards, 3.6 yards per carry), but hemming him in will be the Rebels’ top defensive priority.

Kicking questions

Placekicker/punter Evan Pantels has been working through a leg injury in recent weeks, and his power has been noticeably sapped. He came up short on a 48-yard field goal last week against BYU, and his final punt of the game went for just 30 yards.

With the kicking game compromised, Sanchez said he may be more inclined to go for it in fourth-down situations this week. Pantels can still be effective from short distances—he made all three of his PATs last week—but look for UNLV to pass up longer field goals and midfield punts on makeable fourth downs.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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