Las Vegas, NV —UNLV wanted to opened the Barry Odom era with a bang and they did just that with a 44-14 victory over Bryant on Saturday at Allegiant Stadium.
The Running Rebel running back Vincent Davis Jr. took a handoff and sprinted 69 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown on the opening play from scrimmage, igniting the sidelines and eased the first game jitters of the team.
“I definitely felt like it calmed me down a lot,” receiver and kick returner Jacob De Jesus said. “This is my first game coming from junior college to this level and I definitely had a lot of nerves, but seeing him go off on that touchdown, it just made me feel confident that we’d have a great game.”
It wasn’t always pretty, but a win is a win, it was Odom’s first game as the 13th coach in school history.
Odom was named head coach at UNLV on Dec. 6, 2022 after spending three seasons with Arkansas.
The challenge gets much more difficult next week when the Rebels travel to Ann Arbor to play the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines when they play against better competition. UNLV knows they have to do better in many areas if they want to have a chance against the Wolverines.
Jacob De Jesus took the opening kickoff 31 yards that set up the first score. Davis led the Rebels’ ground game with 79 of their 283 yards rushing. Quarterback Doug Brumfield completed 11 of 18 passes for 86 yards, and his 19-yard touchdown trot late in the second quarter stretched the lead to 24-0 going into the locker room.
“It means a lot for me to be able to get to 1-0 today because I wanted it so bad for this group, our players, just to get started on the right foot,” he said. “We have a long way to go. We understand that. We can play a lot cleaner in all three phases, but we’re thrilled to be 1-0, and I look forward to getting back to work. Now it’s a sprint to see how good we can get between Week 1 and 2.”
Jai’Den Thomas dded a pair of touchdown runs in between a Donavyn Lester TD run, each coming from short yardage.
Zeyi Eckhaus was 19 of 29 for 230 yards passing to lead Bryant. Ryan Clark ran in for scores twice from the 1-yard in the second half.
It was the first meeting between the teams.
“The hunger that was there from our guys, the understanding that, yes, we won and won big, but how can we work to get to being the best version of ourself,” Odom said. “To hear them talk and verbalize that about how can they get there, we’re moving in the right direction for sure.”
The Rebels will travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan.