Las Vegas, NV – September 16, 2023, marked a date that had football fans on the edge of their seats, as the UNLV Rebels faced off against the Vanderbilt Commodores in a highly anticipated showdown. The matchup between these two teams promised to be an exciting and pivotal moment in the college football season, and it did not disappoint.
Both UNLV and Vanderbilt came into this game with a lot to prove. The Rebels, fresh off their impressive 44-14 victory against Bryant in the season opener, were looking to build on their early success under the leadership of Coach Barry Odom. The Commodores, on the other hand, were seeking redemption after a tough loss in their previous game.
From the opening kickoff, it was evident that this game would be a hard-fought battle. The Rebel faithful filled Sam Boyd Stadium with energy and enthusiasm, creating an electric atmosphere that electrified the players on the field. But kicker Jose Pizano made a 36-yard field goal with five seconds left on the clock Saturday to give UNLV a 40-37 victory over Vanderbilt in a crazy fourth quarter.
UNLV’s offense, led by quarterback Jayden Maiava, wasted no time making their presence felt. Rogers displayed poise and precision, connecting with his talented group of wide receivers and marching the Rebels down the field. The first quarter ended with UNLV leading 10-0, thanks to a field goal and a touchdown pass from Rogers.
Vanderbilt, however, refused to be counted out. Their defense stepped up in the second quarter, forcing turnovers and holding the Rebels at bay. The Commodores’ offense, guided by quarterback Mason Jones, began to find its rhythm. A well-executed drive led to a Vanderbilt touchdown, bringing the score to 10-7 at halftime.
Vanderbilt quarterback AJ Swann, who injured his elbow toward the end of the first half but later returned, was 16 of 35 for 296 yards, with three touchdowns and an pick. London Humphreys caught three passes for 102 yards and a TD.
As the fourth quarter commenced, the tension in the stadium was palpable. Each play felt like a potential game-changer. UNLV’s defense, spearheaded by All-American candidate Malik Turner, came up with crucial stops, while Jayden Maiava continued to make clutch throws under pressure.
Vanderbilt had one last chance to mount a comeback, but UNLV’s defense held strong, sealing the victory for the Rebels. UNLV sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
Coach Barry Odom praised his team’s resilience, saying, “This was a hard-fought game, and I’m incredibly proud of our players. They showed heart and determination, and it paid off with a big win.”
The Rebels’ victory over Vanderbilt was a testament to their determination and their ability to perform under pressure. It was a game that will be remembered for years to come and solidified UNLV’s status as a team to watch in the college football landscape.
As the Rebels basked in the glory of their hard-earned win, fans and pundits alike couldn’t help but wonder what other exciting moments the 2023 college football season had in store for UNLV. With each game, this team continues to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with, and their journey promises to be nothing short of thrilling.
“I don’t believe that our side deserved to win tonight,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “I don’t believe that we played to a level that would’ve allowed us to win that game.”
Vanderbilt: Hosts Kentucky next Saturday to open SEC play.
UNLV: Finishes the nonconference schedule with a trip to UTEP next Saturday.