How do you move on from being on the wrong end of the worst upset in NCAA history? If you are the UNLV Rebels, you avenge the worst loss of your 2016 season.
The Rebels (1-1) rolled up 550 yards, including 357 rushing, and cruised to a 44-16 victory over FCS-bound Idaho (1-1) on Saturday afternoon at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.
Junior tailback Lexington Thomas ran for a career-high 190 yards and three touchdowns and freshman quarterback Armani Rogers rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown and also hooked up for a school-record 94-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Devonte Boyd as UNLV bounced back in impressive fashion from a stunning season opening 43-40 home loss to 45-point underdog Howard.
The win also avenged a 33-30 overtime loss to the Vandals last season at Sam Boyd Stadium. And it was UNLV’s first nonconference road win since Mike Sanford’s Rebels upset No. 13 Arizona State, 23-20, in overtime in 2008 in Tempe, Ariz.
“We have a great group of kids in that locker room that have worked extremely hard for years building this program and we took a hell of a blow last week and it was hard getting out of bed last week,” UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. “The way our kids showed up, the way they believe in themselves, they just went back to work. They didn’t make excuses, they didn’t listen to the noise, they went back to work.”
UNLV never trailed, grinding out a 10-3 halftime lead before blowing the game open with a 24-point third quarter that included touchdown runs of 60, 1 and 62 yards by Thomas, who finished with his ninth career rushing game in just 10 starts. Thomas replaced injured starter Charles Williams in the starting lineup.
Rogers overcame a couple of early fumbles to complete 10-of-16 passes for 193 yards and the record-setting touchdown to a wide-open Boyd. The 94-yarder early in the fourth quarter upped UNLV’s lead to 41-16 and shattered the previous longest passing play in Rebel history of 87 yards set in 1977 when Carlton Kelly connected with Henry Vereen against Northern Arizona.
UNLV now has a week off to enjoy the win before traveling to Ohio State on Sept. 23.
Click on graphic below for final stats: