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The opening period was a lively one, as a large crowd filtered in to see the two teams score a touchdown apiece to make it 7-7.
Hawaii returned the opening kickoff to the UNLV 25, but failed to capitalize as starting UH quarterback Dru Brown was dropped for a 19-yard loss on a third-down play. The Rebels moved the ball on their opening series before punting to the Hawaii 3.
The Rainbow Warriors managed one first down, but eventually were forced to punt it away to the UNLV 36. The Rebels quickly moved into UH territory with a series of successful runs and passes to set up first-and-10 at the Hawaii 39. The bulk of the load fell on the broad shoulder pads of running back Lex Thomas, who had 36 yards on his first eight carries.
UNLV quarterback Dalton Sneed picked up 19 yards on a big third-down scramble to set up a first-and-goal at the 1. Two plays later, Sneed threw a 2-yard strike to Devonte Boyd. Evan Pantels added the PAT to make it 7-0 UNLV with 3:37 left in the quarter. The Rebels covered 64 yards in 10 plays, taking 4:34 off the clock.
Hawaii quickly responded after returning the kickoff out over the 30. Three plays later running back Diocemy Saint Juste broke off a 55-yard run to the UNLV 3. Two plays later, Steven Lakalaka took it from 1 yard out. Rigo Sanchez added the PAT to make it 7-7 with 35 seconds left.
With traffic backed up for miles as kickoff neared, the crowd for tonight’s Mountain West Conference football game between Nevada-Las Vegas and Hawaii was late arriving.
They came to see if the Rainbow Warriors are for real as they prepare for an important matchup against an injury-riddled Rebels squad that is 2-4 this season and 1-1 in league play. Hawaii counters with a 3-3 mark overall and 2-0 in league play.
With a win, Hawaii goes to the Air Force Academy next weekend as a team to be reckoned with in the West Division. Lose and the big crowd might stay away the next time around.