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UNLV can’t complete comeback, loses at Cal

Updated September 10, 2022 - 7:25 pm

UNLV was 8 yards from potentially giving Marcus Arroyo a signature victory in his third season as the Rebels’ coach.

But quarterback Doug Brumfield’s pass on fourth-and-goal from the 8 with less than three minutes remaining was incomplete, and California escaped with a 20-14 win Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.

“Really disappointed because our guys didn’t play perfect but still had a chance to win,” Arroyo said in his postgame interview with Learfield Sports. “We want to finish that off, but we’ll learn from it. We’re in that game to the very end, and we have to capitalize, but it will be a good game to learn from.”

The Rebels (1-1) got the ball one more time with 1:03 left. But Brumfield was sacked twice and threw an interception as time ran out. Three of their final five drives ended with a turnover on downs.

UNLV, a 12½-point underdog, had its chances. After Aidan Robbins scored on a 31-yard run to cut the deficit to 20-14, kicker Daniel Gutierrez recovered an onside kick with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter.

But the Rebels couldn’t capitalize on that drive or their next four in losing to the Pac-12 school in the first meeting between the two.

When it appeared the Rebels were gaining momentum offensively in the third quarter, their inability to convert on third down hurt them. They were 1 of 12 on the down.

“We started to move the ball a little better, but we got to finish,” Arroyo said. “We’re one or two plays away. That’s football, especially against good opponents on the road.”

Cal (2-0) led 14-0 after the first quarter, as running back Jaydn Ott scored on a 2-yard run and a 12-yard reception from quarterback Jack Plummer.

UNLV broke through on the first play of the second quarter when Brumfield hit wide receiver Kyle Williams for an 11-yard score, UNLV’s only points of the half.

Brumfield completed 18 of 33 passes on 206 yards with the touchdown and an interception.

“We have to look at the tape and be honest with ourselves and find out what exactly we could do to get off to a better start,” Arroyo said.

As the Rebels struggled to score in the second half, their defense kept them in the game. They allowed 102 total yards in the half as they were effective in creating pressure on Plummer.

But UNLV was plagued by penalties, racking up eight for 105 yards. Arroyo said the penalties put the Rebels in bad situations they couldn’t overcome.

“We’ve been a pretty disciplined football team, so that was disappointing,” he said.

Robbins rushed for 84 yards on 14 carries. Williams had 52 receiving yards on three catches. Ricky White finished with 59 receiving yards on four catches, and Jeff Weimer had 49 on four receptions.

Arroyo said he liked the way his team competed on the road against a school from a Power Five conference.

“No one is excited about the loss, but I’m excited about the way we competed,” Arroyo said. “We have a good football team.”

The Rebels will host North Texas at noon Saturday at Allegiant Stadium.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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