FRESNO, Calif. — UNLV suffered a gut-wrenching loss on Saturday night, losing at Fresno State 31-24 after receiver Senika McKie dropped a wide-open touchdown pass in the end zone with just 7 seconds remaining.
After falling behind 7-0 on Fresno’s first possession, UNLV would outscore the Bulldogs 17-0 for the rest of the half. A receiving touchdown from Ricky White and a rushing touchdown from Jett Thomas paced the Rebels, along with a spectacular interception by Jaxen Turner.
Despite entering the game as 9.5 point underdogs, UNLV held a 10-point lead going into halftime.
UNLV forced a Fresno State punt to start the third quarter, but the ball bounced off returner Jacob DeJesus’ leg and into the hands of Fresno State’s special teams unit for a turnover that marked the start of a free fall for the Rebels.
Fresno State promptly scored. And then they scored again. And again. Thanks in no small part to three costly turnovers, Fresno State had outscored them 24-0 in the third quarter alone to establish a 31-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
One thing about these Rebels, though. They certainly aren’t going to tuck their tails and run. Jayden Maiava found his favorite target Ricky White for their second touchdown connection of the night, this one to get the Rebels back within a score. Jose Pizano’s extra point made it a 31-24 game with just over 12 minutes remaining.
The Rebels were unable to take advantage of an incredibly timely interception by Cameron Oliver, failing a fourth down conversion on fourth and goal just before the four minute mark.
The defense was able to come up with yet another huge stop before the two minute warning, giving UNLV’s offense one more chance to find the end zone and tie the game.
Despite a questionable lack of urgency in the play calling on the final drive, the Rebels still found themselves with a first and goal and a chance to tie the game as the time ticked down.
After the fateful pass flew through McKie’s hands, the next pass thrown by Maiava found Fresno State LB Levelle Bailey for the game-sealing interception.
“It’s frustrating, obviously,” Coach Barry Odom told reporters post-game. “Our team’s got to continue to learn from what we didn’t do well. Nobody feels sorry for us. We’ve got to get back to work.”
UNLV is on the road again next week, taking on New Mexico in Albuquerque at 3 p.m. PDT. The game will be live streamed on the Mountain West app.