SAN JOSE – UNLV coach Tony Sanchez has preached the importance of consistency as being a big key to helping turn his football program around. And Saturday night’s 30-24 loss at San Jose State could serve as the latest example of what still needs to be done.
The Rebels (3-6, 2-3 Mountain West) were miserable in the first 30 minutes, committing nine penalties and allowing 339 yards while falling behind 27-10 at halftime. But backup quarterback Kurt Palandech came off the bench to pass for 161 yards and a touchdown and rush for 44 yards and another touchdown, and a more aggressive blitzing defense held the Spartans to just a field goal in the second half, giving UNLV a chance to pull it out at the end.
The Rebels drove to San Jose State’s 44-yard line but Palandech overthrew tight end Andrew Price on 3rd-and-10 and Spartan defensive back Trevon Bierra capitalized, sealing the game with an interception with 48 seconds remaining.
It was the third loss in four games for UNLV which also lost its seventh in a row to San Jose State (3-6, 2-3). The Rebels, who have a much-needed bye next week to heal up and regroup, must win their final three games – at home against Wyoming (Nov. 12), at Boise State (Nov. 18) and the Fremont Cannon finale against Nevada on Nov. 26 at Sam Boyd Stadium – to get to the all important six-win mark needed for bowl eligibility.
“Myself, and the coaches, we’ve got to do a better job of getting our guys going early in games,” Sanchez said on his post-game radio show. “We’re just really inconsistent.”
There were some positives to build on.
Freshman running back Charles Williams rushed for 141 yards on 22 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter that gave the Rebels a 7-3 lead.
Wide receiver Devonte Boyd finished with six receptions for 136 yards while Price added two catches for 22 yards, including a two-yard touchdown catch. And Palandech came in to add a much-needed spark on offense after freshman starter Dalton Sneed completed just two of nine passes for 24 yards.
“At the time I felt we needed a little bit of a jolt,” Sanchez said of his QB switch. “Not to take anything from Dalton’s ability. He’s a great player. Kurt came in and did a good job.”
Defensively, linebackers Tau Lotulelei (12) and Ryan McAleenan (9) combined for 21 tackles while senior defensive end Jeremiah Valoaga had two of the team’s four sacks.
Sanchez said starting running back Lexington Thomas, who carried five times for 18 yards in the first quarter, left the game with a high ankle sprain while cornerback Tim Hough suffered a concussion.
Click on graphic below for final stats