Published Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Updated Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017 | 6:47 p.m.
Utah State scored 38 unanswered points to finish the game, eventually trouncing UNLV by a score of 52-28.
UNLV didn't score after freshman quarterback Armani Rogers was forced out of the contest in the second quarter due to a head injury.
The Rebels fall to 2-5 on the season and 1-3 in Mountain West play.
Utah State leads heading into fourth quarter
UNLV was held scoreless in the third quarter, and Utah State will head into the fourth with a 35-28 lead.
The Rebels' offense has not been able to move the ball with backup QB Kurt Palandech under center. Though the team has rushed for 340 yards on 44 carries, Palandech has only been able to muster 34 yards through the air and all three of his drives have come up empty.
Utah State will take over possession in UNLV territory after a long punt return.
Utah State takes 35-28 lead over UNLV
Utah State has taken its first lead of the game, as a Jordan Love 5-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-short has given the Aggies a 35-28 advantage with 6:38 remaining in the third quarter.
UNLV's opening drive of the second half stalled inside the Utah State 40, and Jordan Nathan returned a Rebels punt 70 yards deep into UNLV territory. Love scored four plays later.
Kurt Palandech is in at quarterback for UNLV, and the offense has yet to click in his two drives. Palandech is 4-of-9 for 29 yards.
UNLV, Utah State tied at half
UNLV ran for 300 yards in the first half, but too many breakdowns in the secondary allowed Utah State to complete a pair of long touchdown passes, and the two teams are tied, 28-28, at the half.
The bigger story for UNLV is the state of Armani Rogers' health. The freshman quarterback limped off the field after taking a big hit late in the second quarter, and he was replaced by backup Kurt Palandech on the Rebels' next drive. Rogers has taken every meaningful snap this season, so it's unclear how much (if at all) the offense will change with Palandech at the controls.
Defensively, UNLV has to clean up its coverage. The secondary allowed two long scoring plays—one a 75-yard pass to Savon Scarver, and the other a 70-yard score to Jordan Nathan—and Utah State freshman QB Jordan Love has had his way with them, completing 9-of-12 passes for 194 yards.
UNLV will receive the ball to begin the second half, so we won't have to wait long to see how the Rebels respond under Palandech.
Armani Rogers helped off field after big hit
UNLV freshman quarterback Armani Rogers took an awkward hit and had to be helped off the field after the Rebels' last drive.
Rogers scrambled on 3rd-and-5 and shoveled a pass to Lexington Thomas, but was crumpled beneath two Utah State defenders in the process. After staying down for several minutes, Rogers gingerly walked to the sideline arm-in-arm with team personnel.
Senior backup quarterback Kurt Palandech is currently warming up on the sideline. UNLV and Utah State are tied, 28-28, with 2:28 remaining in the first half.
Armani Rogers scores to give UNLV 28-14 lead
For the second time today, Utah State lost a fumble and the UNLV offense turned it into seven points.
Armani Rogers did the honors this time, plowing into the end zone from seven yards out to extend UNLV's lead to 28-14 with 6:05 remaining in the first half. Rogers now has 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
The Rebels have been running wild throughout the first half, as they've racked up 283 rushing yards on 27 carries.
Lexington Thomas extends UNLV lead over Utah State
Utah State got on the board late in the first quarter when quarterback Jordan Love hit Savon Scarver for a 70-yard touchdown, but UNLV answered right back, as Lexington Thomas accelerated for a 41-yard touchdown to restore the Rebels' lead to 21-7.
Thomas shot through the middle of the line, then turned on the speed and outran two Utah State defenders on his way to the end zone. Thomas now has 98 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries.
UNLV takes 14-0 lead over Utah State
Armani Rogers scored on a 7-yard keeper and UNLV now has a 14-0 lead over Utah State with two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The scoring drive was set up by an Eltoro Allen fumble at midfield, which the Rebels recovered. UNLV then embarked on a 7-play, 57-yard drive, with Rogers putting on the finishing touches. Rogers has 51 yards on five carries.
Rebels take early lead over Utah State
UNLV got aggressive on its second drive, and it paid off. Tony Sanchez decided to go for it on 4th and 1 in the red zone, and junior running back Lexington Thomas squeezed through the left side of the line and broke free for a 14-yard touchdown. UNLV leads Utah State, 7-0, midway through the first quarter.
The big play on the scoring drive was a 26-yard scramble by freshman quarterback Armani Rogers, who reversed field and raced up the right sideline to move the Rebels across midfield.
Thomas already has five rushes for 52 yards on the day.
Three keys for UNLV football against Utah State
Can the Rebels regroup and get their season back on track? A home win over Utah State (3 p.m., AT&T SportsNet) would improve UNLV's record to 3-4 and reignite the program's bowl dreams, but after last week's disappointing defeat at Air Force, there's no telling how Tony Sanchez's team will respond.
Three keys to watch throughout the game:
Will Armani step up?
Last week’s loss at Air Force was the first time that a UNLV defeat could be blamed (at least partially) on Armani Rogers. The Rebels’ freshman quarterback was inconsistent with his arm (12-of-27 passing, 145 yards, one interception), and though he ran for 148 yards, it was on a QB keeper late in the fourth quarter that Rogers fumbled away a prime scoring chance.
Now the pressure is on Rogers to bounce back with the season on the line and deliver a strong performance at home against Utah State. The Aggies’ pass defense isn’t anything to write home about — they’ve allowed 8.1 yards per pass attempt, tied with UNLV for 103rd in the nation — so there should be opportunities for big gains.
The bigger issue will be how Rogers performs in clutch situations. He fumbled in that crucial spot against Air Force, and he completed just 2-of-10 passes on third downs. If the Rebels are in a tight contest against Utah State, the game (and the season) could hinge on whether Rogers comes up big.
UNLV has been unable to stop running quarterbacks so far this season. Howard started the trend, as freshman quarterback Caylin Newton torched UNLV for 190 rushing yards (9.0 per carry) and two touchdowns in Week 1, and last week it was Air Force QB Arion Worthman lighting it up to the tune of 166 rushing yards (5.5 per carry) and five touchdowns.
Utah State doesn’t run an option-based offense like Howard and Air Force, but quarterback Kent Myers is capable of making plays with his legs. He averages 10.4 rushing attempts per game (up to 13.8 attempts over the last four games), and he’s scored five touchdowns on the ground. If UNLV doesn’t respect him as a runner, he’ll become the third quarterback to beat them via the run.
The good news is UNLV won’t have to deal with the triple option. But the Rebels’ defensive front will have to contain the edges and maintain lane discipline while rushing the passer, or Myers will make this another long day for the UNLV defense.
The Rebels should be 4-2 right now, and they know it. The fact that they’re 2-4 instead has to be weighing on them in the wake of last week’s tough loss at Air Force, but they can’t bring that baggage out onto the field on Saturday and expect to win.
The first time UNLV suffered a devastating defeat this season, they bounced back from the Howard loss and won convincingly at Idaho the following week. So we’ve seen this team respond to demoralizing situations before.
The season isn’t over. UNLV’s path to a bowl game is treacherous, but it can still be done. If this game comes down to the Rebels holding a lead in the fourth quarter, they would be wise to remember that.