The end to that streak will have to wait. The Aggies handed the Rebels their 12th straight loss on the back of a go-ahead touchdown with 35 seconds remaining in the game.
“We just did not do enough to close it out,” Head coach Marcus Arroyo said. “We have to do a better job collectively to put ourselves in a position to close one out.”
The first quarter of the game became a firework show. On their opening drive, the Rebels drove down inside the Aggies 10-yardline but were forced to settle for a field goal. Savon Scarver ran the ensuing kickoff back to give the Aggies a 7-3 lead.
The Rebels quickly restored the lead. On the first play of their next drive, senior running back Charles Williams carried the ball 75 yards to give the Rebels a 10-7 lead. Cameron Oliver intercepted Aggie’s quarterback Logan Bonner at the 41-yard line and ran it back all the way to the Utah State 14-yard line.
Three plays later, Williams punched the ball in from the one-yard line to give the Rebels a 17-7 lead.
The Rebel defense came up with a goal-line stand after Bonner fumbled the snap to start the second quarter. But after forcing the Rebels to punt on the ensuing drive, Bonner found Devin Thompkins for a 36-yard touchdown to cut the Rebels lead to just three.
The Rebel defense came up with another fourth down stop, but the offense once again stalled out. Just before halftime, the Aggies had a chance to tie the game. However, the 52-yard field goal from Connor Coles came up short.
Utah State came out swinging to start the second half. After being held to less than 25 yards rushing in the first half, picked up 45-yards on the ground during the drive to set the Aggies up first and goal inside the five-yard line. Bonner did the rest, connecting with Thompkins once again for a six-yard touchdown.
The Rebels answered right back with a touchdown drive of their own, capped off by a five-yard touchdown rush by Williams for his third of the day. They took a 24-21 lead into fourth quarter.
At this point, the Rebels were in control of the game. All their offense needed to do was move the ball enough to keep the clock running. However, after William’s touchdown run, the offense sputtered. They punted the next two drives. Fortunately, the defense was able to hold tight.
The next drive for the Rebels ended with Friel throwing an interception at midfield. The bigger news though was that Friel had to be helped off the field after suffering an apparent leg injury. The Aggies had an opportunity to tie the game, but the Rebels blocked the kick.
With less than five minutes to go, the Rebels took over at their own 24-yard line. They only mustered 5 yards on the drive and gave the ball right back to the Aggies.
The Rebel defense had done a good job to this point of bending but not breaking. This time, the Aggies were able to put everything together. With 35 seconds remaining in the game, Elelyon Noa ran into the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown to give Utah State a 28-24 lead.
The Rebel’s last gasp on offense ended with a interception call on a fourth and 16 pass from Justin Rodgers. The Aggies regained possession and ran the remaining few seconds out of the game.
The Rebels fall to 0-6 on the season. They also remain winless in the Marcus Arroyo era (0-12). They have not won a game since Nov. 30, 2019, against the University of Nevada, Reno Wolfpack.
Charles Williams, as he has done time and time again, carried the Rebels on offense. He finished with 25 carries for 224 yards and three touchdowns. He became the first Rebel running back since 2013 to rush for 200 yards in a single game. He also moved into fourth place all time in touchdowns (25) and second place in rushing yards in UNLV history. Despite the gaudy numbers from Williams tonight, after the game he was hard on himself.
“I felt there was a play out there that I missed that could have helped the defense,” Williams said. “That’s why I am hurting right now. I feel like I didn’t give my all. It was only 95%. I could have given more to help [the defense] out.”
The Rebels have a quick turnaround for their next game. They play the defending Mountain West Champions in the San Jose State Spartans. That game will be on Oct. 21 at 8:00 P.M. It will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.