LAS VEGAS – The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warrior football team saw its string of bad luck continue in Las Vegas with a 31-23 loss Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium. With its sixth loss in its last seven games, UH dropped to 3-6 overall and 1-5 in the Mountain West.
The Rainbow Warriors have lost three straight in the series against the Rebels and remain winless in Las Vegas in their last five trips.
UNLV scored three unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter to break open a tight game and key the Rebels (4-5, 3-3 MW) second straight victory. With the win, UNLV claimed possession of the recently introduced Island Showdown Trophy.
UH tried to rally from an 11-point fourth-quarter hole and looked to force overtime after driving down to the Rebel’s 19-yard line. But Dru Brown‘s pass sailed high on the final play of the game.
Johnny Stanton threw for a career-high 244 yards and two touchdowns while running for another and running back Lexington Thomas finished with 98 yards rushing and a touchdown to lead UNLV.
Diocemy Saint Juste finished with 111 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries for UH. It was his sixth 100-yard game of the season and third in his last four games. Dylan Collie had 85 yards receiving and a touchdown on a career-high eight receptions.
The first half was a defensive battle. UH got a key red-zone interception and 50-yard return by sophomore linebacker Solomon Matautia late in the first half. That helped set up a UH field goal to cut UNLV’s lead to 7-6 at the half.
After Brown connected with Dyan Collie for a 20-yard touchdown five minutes into the third quarter, UH earned its first lead of the game, 13-7. However, it was short-lived. The Rebels responded right back with three straight touchdowns to take a 28-13 lead going into the fourth quarter. Two of the touchdowns came off the arm of Stanton, and one came after a successful on-side kick by the Rebels.
Jahlani Tavai led UH with 13 tackles and a sack while Matautia added 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a pass breakup to his second interception of the year.
UH now must win their final three games of the season to reach bowl eligibility. The Rainbow Warriors next return home to host Fresno State on Saturday, Nov. 11. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Aloha Stadium.