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Live blog: Rebels win cannon with late heroics from Rogers, White

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Wade Vandervort

UNLV running back Xzavier Campbell (35) gets tackled by Knowledge Smith (20) while running the ball to the end zone during the Fremont Cannon rivalry game between UNLV and visiting team UNR at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.

Updated Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 | 9:55 p.m.

Javin White intercepted Ty Gangi on UNR's last-ditch drive, and UNLV has claimed the Fremont Cannon by virtue of a 34-29 win.

The Rebels trailed 23-0 early in the second quarter, but Armani Rogers accounted for five touchdowns — three passing, two rushing — and White came up with two clutch interceptions to lead UNLV all the way back.

This is the second time UNLV has won the cannon under Tony Sanchez. He is 2-2 against UNR.

Rogers finished with 13-of-20 passing for 172 yards and the three TDs, while running for 46 yards and two scores.

UNLV wraps up the 2018 season with a 4-8 record.

Rogers scores fifth TD to give UNLV late 34-29 lead over UNR

Armani Rogers just ran for his second touchdown of the game — his fifth total TD — to give UNLV a 34-29 lead with 2:34 to play.

Rogers fired a 28-yard pass to Giovanni Fauolo to set the Rebels up inside the UNR 10, and three plays later he powered his way over left tackle to give UNLV the lead. The Rebels went for the 2-point conversion but Rogers was sacked, so it will be a 5-point lead with the defense on the field to win or lose the cannon.

UNR is out of timeouts after taking all three to conserve time during UNLV's scoring drive.

Javin White set up the drive by intercepting UNR quarterback Ty Gangi inside the Rebels' 20.

UNR takes 29-28 lead over UNLV in fourth quarter

UNLV's offense came up empty on its last drive, and UNR cashed in by driving for a 36-yard field goal to take a 29-28 lead.

The Rebels will put the ball in Armani Rogers' hands and hope he can make something happen either with his legs or his arm. UNLV went 3-and-out on its last drive, hurt by a false start penalty that put them behind the chains on second down.

Armani Rogers' third touchdown pass gives UNLV 28-26 lead over UNR

As unbelievable as it may seem, UNLV has stormed back to take a 28-26 lead over UNR late in the third quarter.

Armani Rogers rolled out and hit tight end Noah Bean in the back of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown pass to give the Rebels their first lead of the day. Rogers has now completed 10-of-15 passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns to lead the comeback effort.

UNR once had a 23-0 lead early in the second quarter, but the Wolf Pack offense has stalled since then, managing to tack on just three more points. UNLV forced UNR to punt on its first two drives of the second half.

Rebels surge in second quarter to pull within 26-21 at halftime

UNLV scored 21 unanswered points in a second quarter that changed everything, and heading into halftime UNR's lead has been trimmed to 26-21.

Armani Rogers scored on a 1-yard QB sneak to make it 23-21 with four minutes remaining, and though UNR drove the length of the field and earned a goal-to-go situation in the final minute, the Rebels' defense held and forced a field goal to keep the score within a touchdown heading into halftime.

It was quite a turnaround for UNLV, which looked dead and buried after UNR went up 23-0 after just 16 minutes. But Rogers sparked the Rebels to three touchdowns in four drives, and the defense fed off that momentum to force a couple punts and keep the surge going.

Can UNLV keep up this level of play in the second half and pull off the most unlikely win of Tony Sanchez's tenure? UNR will receive the kick to start the third quarter, so it will be up to the Rebels defense to get a stop and get the red-hot Rogers back onto the field.

Armani Rogers throws two touchdowns, UNLV down 23-14

Just when it looked like it was time to shovel dirt on the Rebels, a couple of big plays have gotten UNLV back into the game. With 9:47 left in the half, it's UNR 23, UNLV 14.

UNR went up 23-0 before Armani Rogers put UNLV on the board with a touchdown pass to Lexington Thomas. Rogers scrambled out of the pocket on the 4th-and-8 play and found Thomas running free across the middle. Thomas made the catch, broke a tackle and raced in to make it 23-7.

UNR's next possession ended quickly, as quarterback Ty Gangi was intercepted on the first play by UNLV cornerback Jocquez Kalili. Rogers made it count, driving the Rebels downfield and hitting Giovanni Fauolo for an 18-yard score.

If the Rebels can keep the momentum going, there is a real chance they could turn this into an interesting game in the second half.

UNR takes 20-0 lead over UNLV after first quarter

Things have turned very dark here for the Rebels. At the end of the first quarter, the defense looks completely lost and UNR has taken advantage to build a 20-0 lead.

UNR quarterback Ty Gangi went 9-of-14 for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the opening quarter, and running back Kelton Moore just ripped off a 46-yard scoring run untouched to make it 20-0.

On UNLV's final drive of the half, Max Gilliam fumbled and UNR recovered inside the 20, so the Wolf Pack will start the second quarter working with a short field.

Armani Rogers started at QB for the Rebels and played the first two series. Gilliam relieved him and has played the last two possessions. Neither has had much success.

UNR jumps ahead of UNLV in cannon game

Less than six minutes into this game, UNLV already seems to be on the verge of collapse.

The score is only 7-0 in favor of UNR, but it feels worse for the Rebels. After the UNLV offense went 3-and-out on the opening possession, UNR breezed downfield for a 79-yard touchdown drive on four plays to take the lead. Ty Gangi completed a 41-yard bomb to cover most of the ground, then hit McLane Mannix for a 5-yard touchdown.

UNLV crossed midfield on the ensuing drive, but a 4th-and-3 pass by Armani Rogers was incomplete, and UNR will take over at the 36 after the timeout.

The Rebels could really use a stop here, or things could start to snowball quickly.

Previewing UNLV football vs. UNR with reader questions

UNLV will look to end the season on a high note today, as the Rebels host in-state rival UNR in the 2018 finale at Sam Boyd Stadium (6:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network).

Though the result won't mean much for the Rebels (3-8), the fate of the Fremont Cannon is always enough to give this matchup some juice. And there are several story lines worth following, including Armani Rogers' likely return to the starting quarterback spot and senior running back Lexington Thomas' pursuit of the UNLV all-time rushing record (he enters his final game 219 yards away from the mark).

Let's preview the final game of the season with some reader questions:

@evanwozniak

What kind of an impact would another blowout loss to Reno have on Tony’s status with UNLV / AD DRF’s evaluation of entire athletic department?

@MikeGrimala

I’ve come around to thinking UNLV head coach Tony Sanchez is probably safe for another year, due to the entirety of the situation (including long-term progress, facilities, academics, stability, etc.). One thing that could possibly disrupt that plan would be an embarrassing blowout loss at home to in-state rival UNR on Saturday.

Such a result isn’t out of the realm of possibility. After winning the Fremont cannon with an upset win in Reno in Sanchez’s first year in 2015, the Rebels hosted UNR in 2016 and got torn to pieces, showing no spirit or resolve in a 45-10 defeat. If we see something like that on Saturday, all bets are off for Sanchez’s job security.

But I don’t think that will happen this time around. Though the season has slipped away from the Rebels, Sanchez has been proud of the way his players have given full effort in every game, even after being eliminated from postseason eligibility. I think UNLV will play hard against UNR, and even if they lose, the Rebels won’t quit like they did in 2016.

@LouDog777

Talk about the lack of production from the highly ranked defensive recruits that have been arriving, specifically 2016?

@MikeGrimala

It’s no secret that UNLV’s recruiting on the defensive side of the ball has been lackluster at best. From that 2016 class, the Rebels signed five high-school defenders and none of them are currently seeing snaps in 2018. When you swing and miss to that extent on an entire recruiting class, the bill is eventually going to come due, and that’s what Sanchez is dealing with now.

The good news is, there is a chance UNLV could be a bit improved on that side of the ball in 2019. Cornerback Jericho Flowers, defensive end/linebacker Gabe McCoy, linebacker Javin White and safety Demetrious Gibbs are all set to return, and each has flashed at some point this season. The Rebels will also return defensive lineman Nick Dehdashtian, who missed all of this year with an injury.

With that core returning, UNLV will start from a decent position heading into training camp. The question is, have the Rebels recruited well enough in 2017 and 2018 to supplement those returnees? We’ll find out next year.

@Foxhole26

Are we getting close to agreeing that the Robotham experiment was a failure? Please play Hardy full-time at PG!

@MikeGrimala

Noah Robotham has not had a great start to the season, but making a move at this point would be panicking for the sake of panicking.

Robotham is doing what was expected of him, with one exception. He is playing good defense, moving the ball and leading his teammates; the one thing he isn’t doing is making shots, as he’s just 7-of-29 from 3-point range (24.1 percent). But he’s got a long track record as a shooter (38.5 percent from long distance in three years at Akron) and will eventually start making those shots. It’s important for the Rebels that he continue to attempt them – his 29 attempts lead the team, and opposing defenses have to respect him beyond the arc. That’s important for a spacing-deficient team like UNLV.

As for the second part of your question, yes Amauri Hardy is playing great, and it appears he is making the sophomore leap (8.6 points, 2.8 assists, 51.6 percent FGs in 22.0 minutes). But the timeshare at point guard is working for now. Robotham is the shooter/defender/leader, Hardy is the high-octane slasher/instant offense guy, and their minutes are pretty even. Maybe by the end of the year that changes, but UNLV can have success playing both.

@coachp750

Talk about why we don’t get the Towel Boys anymore.

@MikeGrimala

For those unaware, “The Towel Boys” was an extremely popular podcast that I co-hosted for several years, and it eventually became a leading hub for UNLV sports conversation. It is currently off the air, but old episodes can still be streamed here, kind of like the way I re-watch old Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes every night. Like MST3K, the Towel Boys get better with every listen.

In the meantime, may I suggest you give “The Rebel Room” a listen? That’s the Sun’s weekly UNLV sports podcast, with myself, Case Keefer and Ray Brewer giving our insight and opinions on the Rebels. I think you’ll like it.

@Butta1231

Talk about McCoy elbowing Zimmerman in the G league tonight.

@MikeGrimala

I haven’t seen the play but since you commanded me to talk about it, I feel compelled.

I know it would be easy to crack a joke about two former UNLV players who left school early only to flounder in their pro careers, but I still think both guys made the right decision. Neither wanted to be in college for more than a year, and both are now getting paid to play basketball for a living. Is it everything they thought it would be? Probably not. But from their perspective, it probably beats biology class.

Will they still feel that way in 10 or 20 years? I don’t know. But this is the choice they wanted to make, so keep playing, keep working, keep elbowing and keep chasing those professional dreams.

@RandyMi76785766

Why has Tervell Beck’s playing time been diminished dramatically this year?

@MikeGrimala

The short answer? I don’t think he’s in good enough shape. And while the coaches could probably extend his minutes in an attempt to improve his conditioning, that might not send a good message to the Rebels that worked hard in the offseason to maintain their fitness.

Beck’s raw numbers are good (6.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 55.0 FG% in 14.2 minutes), but he leads the team in turnover rate (23.5 percent), which could be the result of his decreased explosiveness. As he gets better conditioned throughout the season, I expect his minutes will increase.

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

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