LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Not since 2002 had the UNLV defense turned in such a performance on the road. But four turnovers spelled doom as the Rebels fell 14-10 to San Diego State on Saturday before an announced crowd of 28,854 at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego.
The Aztecs, 3-2 in the Mountain West, 5-4 overall, intercepted Doug Brumfield twice in the end zone and also recovered two UNLV fumbles. The Rebels got one turnover.
“Four turnovers is hard to overcome versus a good, quality opponent,” Rebels coach Marcus Arroyo said. “That’s what those guys are. They proved that on defense. To overcome turnovers in this situation is hard, two of those in our own territory, which are a loss of points and probably the swing of the game.”
Jalen Dixon led the Rebels’ defensive charge. The sophomore from Seattle had 4 1/2 tackles for loss, including two sacks, and forced a fumble. Adam Plant Jr. also had a pair of sacks for the Rebels, 2-3 in the conference, 4-5 overall.
The 14 points were the fewest allowed on the road against a conference opponent since 2002, when the Rebels beat Brigham Young 24-3 in Provo, Utah.
UNLV had six sacks and 11 tackles for loss overall. It held the Aztecs to 99 yards rushing.
UNLV got a Brumfield-to-Nick Williams touchdown pass of 70 yards in the third quarter and a 29-yard field goal by Daniel Gutierrez in the fourth after the Aztecs led 14-0.
Jalen Mayden’s two TD passes led San Diego State. He connected with Jesse Matthews for a 28-yarder, the only score of the opening half, then found Mark Redman on a 24-yarder as the Aztecs converted the opening possession of the second half.
Brumfield, returning after missing two games (11 quarters overall) because of a concussion, got the offense going, but his two picks were costly. He was 17-for-27 passing for 207 yards as UNLV had a 325-315 edge in offensive yards.
Aidan Robbins also returned after hurting a knee against Air Force. He rushed for 115 yards on 21 carries.
Arroyo said he was disappointed, especially with the slow start on offense.
“We’ve got to put that behind us,” said Arroyo, whose Rebels host Fresno State on Friday night at Allegiant Stadium. “We’ve got a short week coming up. We’ve got to regroup and shake some of the rust off some of these guys who are back.”