FSM Essential Recap – UNLV Rebels vs Vanderbilt Commodores- Week 3 -2023



UNLV overcame a slow start and key losses to beat Vanderbilt 40-37 in a resilient win that could be a signature victory for head coach Barry Odom and the Rebels.

UNLV Football took on the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday!

UNLV vs Vanderbilt | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Jeremiah Walker

UNLV had one of the worst starts to a game in recent memory. They fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter and lost starting quarterback Doug Brumfield to a back injury. Then, in the second quarter, the Rebels lost the quarterback of their defense, Jackson Woodard, when he was called for targeting.

For the Rebels fans in attendance, it was not what they expected.

But unlike past years, UNLV found a way to scratch and claw their way back. They continued to fight and showed the mental toughness and resiliency that are the staples of good teams. They didn’t quit. Instead, they persevered for the entirety of the game.

The raucous crowd of 22,582 gave the Rebels energy and never stopped being loud or into the game. UNLV had a home-field advantage for the first time in quite a while.

The only other game that I can remember the Rebels falling behind by 17 or more points and coming back to win was when they played UNR in 2018 and gave up 20 first-quarter points. That Rebels team came back to beat UNR 34-29. But as exciting as that ending was, it didn’t match up to this one.

For new UNLV head coach Barry Odom, this is confirmation that his team believes in his message. The Rebels banded together and came away with a tough, hard-fought win that could define the team under coach Odom. This was their litmus test. They beat Bryant like they were supposed to and lost to Michigan like they were supposed to. It was almost like Vanderbilt was the true start to their season, and the Rebels passed the test with flying colors.

UNLV beat Vanderbilt on Saturday

For UNLV, it wasn’t how they started the game; instead, it was how they finished it

UNLV Rebels vs Vanderbilt Commodores was a dogfight from the beginning.

UNLV vs Vanderbilt | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Jeremiah Walker

The Rebels saw starting quarterback Doug Brumfield get knocked out of the game in the first quarter. He got drilled by a Commodore when he was releasing the ball on the team’s second series. To make matters worse, Vanderbilt picked him off on the pass attempt, and the Commodores returned it for a TD to take a 7-0 lead.

Brumfield returned for two more series before leaving the game for good with a back injury.

Redshirt Freshman Jayden Maiava took over at quarterback for UNLV, but the Rebels still managed to spot Vandy another 10 points, falling behind 17-0 after the first quarter.

But the Liberty High School product found his rhythm in the second quarter. He led UNLV on a 4-play, 61-yard drive that saw freshman Jai’Den Thomas score from 22 yards out. After a Jose Pizano field goal, UNLV tied the game when Jerrae Williams scooped up an AJ Swann fumble and returned it 41 yards for a game-tying touchdown. Pizano kicked a field goal just before the half to give UNLV a 20-17 lead.

After another Pizano field goal to start the third quarter, Maiava took off and rushed for a 24-yard touchdown that gave UNLV a 30-17 lead. But as every Rebels fan knows, things don’t come easy for UNLV. Vanderbilt ran off 13 unanswered points themselves to tie the game at 30 with 4:47 to go in the fourth quarter.

It was time for some Maiava magic.

UNLV Rebels vs Vanderbilt Commodores played a thrilling game on Saturday.

UNLV vs Vanderbilt | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Jeremiah Walker

Rebels offensive coordinator Brennan Marion trusted Maiava to take a shot, and he did just that when he connected with Jacob De Jesus for a 48-yard TD pass with 2:23 left in the game. Vanderbilt came right back down and scored their own TD to tie the game at 37 apiece.

Then the game got interesting.

Maiava threw an interception with 1:00 left in the game deep in Rebels territory. After the Rebels‘ defense forced a three-and-out (using all 3 of their timeouts to do so), the Commodores kicker missed the FG attempt to give UNLV life.

On third down of the Rebels possession, UNLV picked up a first down on a Maiava scramble. On the very next play, he connected with Ricky White III for a 48-yard completion down to the Vanderbilt 18 with just 9 seconds left. Pizano came in and kicked the field goal, giving the Rebels a 40-37 lead. The Commodores had time for one play, but Vandy’s Will Sheppard was tackled at the 49, and the game was over.

UNLV found a way to come away with a gritty 40-37 win, sweeping the two-game series with Vanderbilt.

White III hauled in a career-high 12 catches – tied for the third-most in school history – for 165 yards and a TD. The 165 yards are tied for the 29th-most by a Rebel in one game. Maiava came off the bench and finished with 261 yards passing on 19-of-33 to go with 29 net yards on the ground. Coach Odom became the first UNLV head coach to win at least two of his first three games at the school since John Robinson started out 2-1 in 1999.

UNLV overcame injury and ejections in their win vs Vanderbilt.

Even with the win, the Rebels are not satisfied with their performance.

UNLV took on the Vanderbilt Commodores at Allegiant Stadium on Saturday

UNLV vs Vanderbilt | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Jeremiah Walker

As the final whistle blew and the scoreboard showed four zeros, it read 40-37 Rebels. This come-from-behind win tied for the fifth-biggest comeback in UNLV history. This was also the Rebels’ first-ever regular-season home game vs. an SEC opponent.

What a great win. We joked for just a second in the locker room — it’s just like we drew it up. I (was impressed with) the mental toughness, the resolve, and the ability of our kids to continue to make plays in, really, all three phases of the game. We had so many errors, but we also had so many plays,” Odom said after the game. “Guys stood up, and we played winning football all the way down to the last second. There are a lot of things we can correct.

“We work on the two-minute drill every end of practice. And you just hope and pray that you get in that situation as a team and those habits become game-day reality. Fortunately for us, they did with a clutch throw and catch and a big-time kick.”


UNLV vs Vanderbilt | Franchise Sports Media
Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier/UNLV Athletics

We had a defensive score, the takeaways, the turnover margin, those are the big differences, obviously. We gave up some too, but this team can be a good football team,” Odom continued. “We’ve got to continue to grow. We’ve got to learn from the things we didn’t do well today, apply them, and then make sure that we’re ready and positioned in six and a half short days to play a good UTEP team. I’d like to credit Vanderbilt; I think they’re going to have a solid year, and Clark Lea is a really good coach.

UNLV won the turnover battle 4-2 by grabbing one interception by safety Johnathan Baldwin and recovering three of Vanderbilt’s five total fumbles. Linebacker Fred Thompkins led all tacklers with ten total takedowns, including a strip sack. Jerrae Williams turned in eight tackles, including a sack, and helped the Rebels rally early with a 41-yard fumble return for a touchdown that tied the game at 17 in the second quarter.

For UNLV, it’s now on to UTEP next week.

The final score from Allegiant Stadium was 40-37, UNLV over Vanderbilt.

UNLV will travel to El Paso, Texas, next Saturday to take on UTEP. The kickoff time is set for 6 p.m. You can watch the game on ESPN+. The Rebels will return to Allegiant Stadium on September 30th to open Mountain West play vs Hawai’i.


– Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Joe on all social media: @JoeArrigoFSM

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