Courtesy of UNLV

LAS VEGAS – New place-kicker Jose Pizano kicked a 36-yard field goal with five second left – his fourth three-pointer of the night – to help UNLV (2-1/0-0) defeat Vanderbilt (2-2/0-0) 40-37 in what was the Rebels’ first-ever regular-season home game vs. an SEC opponent.

Playing in front of a raucous crowd of 22,582 at Allegiant Stadium, UNLV tied for its fifth-biggest comeback in history after falling behind 17-0 early in the second quarter. The Rebels, who saw starting quarterback Doug Brumfield get knocked out of the game in the first quarter, went on to score 30 straight points before Vandy had a fourth-quarter, 20-point spurt to twice tie things late.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jayden Maiava out of Las Vegas’ Liberty High School, ran for a 24-yard touchdown and threw for a 48-yard score to Jacob De Jesus to spark his team off the bench.

Wide receiver Ricky White hauled in a career-high 12 catches – tied for the third-most in school history – for 165 yards, including a stunning 48-yarder with nine seconds remaining to set up Pizano’s winning boot.

Linebacker Fred Thompkins led all tacklers with 10 total takedowns, including a strip sack. Jerrae Williams turned in eight TT, 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. UNLV came all the way back to lead 20-17 at halftime.

Maiava came off the bench and finished with 261 yards passing on 19-of-33 to go with 29 net yards on the ground. His 48-yard scoring strike to Jacob De Jesus was the first passing touchdown of the season for the home team.

UNLV won the turnover battle 4-2 by grabbing one interception by Johnathan Baldwin and recovering three of Vandy’s five total fumbles.

“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, the ability for our kids to continue to make plays in, really all three phases of the game. We had so many errors, but also we had so many plays. 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. 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. 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 Head Coach Barry Odom

-UNLV improved to 2-0 all-time vs. Vanderbilt as the first half of this home-and-home series also saw the Rebels win in Nashville in 2019
-The Rebels improved to 3-4 all-time vs. SEC teams
-UNLV is now 4-2 all-time vs. teams from the state of Tennessee
-First-year head coach Barry Odom improved to 4-1 vs. Vanderbilt (3-1 while head coach at Missouri)
-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
-The Rebels won at least two of their first three outings for only the third time in the last 14 seasons
-WR Ricky White’s 165 yards tied for the 29th-most by a Rebel in one game
-UNLV went 4-for-4 in the red zone to improve to a perfect 11-for-11 through three games
Jose Pizano’s 16 total points tied the school record for most points in a game by a kicker
-Pizano’s four made field goals tied for the second-most in a game by a Rebel
-De Jesus, who came into the week leading the nation in kickoff return average, finished with four attempts for 101 yards, with a long of 36. He also added a 22-yard punt return
Doug Brumfield’s rare interception on UNLV’s first drive of the game led to a Rebel opponent scoring a touchdown on an interception for the first time since 2021 vs. San Diego State
-UNLV true freshman running back Jai’Den Thomas got the Rebels on the board with a 21-yard run into the end zone, which marked his third score of the season

UNLV will close out its non-conference schedule with a trip to UTEP on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. PT and the game will be televised by ESPN+.