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Heartbreak in the Desert

UNLV Rebels Fall Short in Guaranteed Rate Bowl Against Kansas Jayhawks.
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Benjamin Vaskov
Guaranteed Rate Bowl Trophy

The Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona, hosted at Chase Field, home of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. The matchup featured the UNLV Rebels from Las Vegas Nevada, representing the Mountain West Conference, against the Kansas Jayhawks from Lawrence Kansas, in the Big 12 Conference. Both teams had relatively new head coaches, with UNLV’s Barry Odom leading the Rebels to a bowl game in his first season, while Lance Leipold guided the Jayhawks to their second straight bowl game, following last year’s appearance in the Liberty Bowl, where they lost to the Arkansas Razorbacks. Historically, both football programs have faced disappointment.
Examining the game itself, it turned into an offensive battle, resulting in the highest combined score of any bowl game this year. In the first quarter, UNLV’s Vincent Davis ran for a 3-yard touchdown, answered by the Kansas Jayhawks with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Jason Bean to Luke Grimm. Moving to the second quarter, Jason Bean connected with Luke Grimm for a 60-yard touchdown pass. On Kansas’ next drive, Bean threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Lawrence Arnold, and in the subsequent drive, Devin Neal ran for a 1-yard touchdown. UNLV responded with a 40-yard field goal from Jose Pizano, making the halftime score 28-10.
Entering the third quarter, UNLV’s Jaden Maiava threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Shelton Zeon, followed by another touchdown pass to Ricky White for 37 yards. UNLV went on a 14-point scoring run, bringing the score to 28-24 in favor of Kansas. Unfortunately, Kansas’ high-powered offense pulled away in the fourth quarter as Jason Bean threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Lawrence Arnold. UNLV responded with Jacob De Jesus running for an 11-yard touchdown, but Kansas continued to dominate with Bean connecting on a 56-yard touchdown pass to Arnold and a 43-yard touchdown pass to Grimm. UNLV managed one more touchdown with Jaden Maiava throwing a 50-yard pass to Senika McKie.
The final score was 49-36, with the Kansas Jayhawks securing their first bowl game victory since 2008. This game was hailed as one of the best of the season, featuring a combined 977 total yards of offense between the two teams. Kansas quarterback Jason Bean finished with 449 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions, while UNLV’s quarterback Jaden Maiava recorded 291 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Reflecting on the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, frustration loomed over UNLV throughout the game, always just out of their grasp. The third quarter hinted at a comeback, with the score narrowing to 28-24. However, despite their efforts, UNLV couldn’t seal the deal, leaving them disheartened as they head into the off-season. The disappointment is compounded by the departure of their quarterback, Jaden Maiava, who has entered the transfer portal, leaving a gap to be filled in the team.
Amidst these setbacks, there’s a glimmer of hope for UNLV. While this loss stings, the upcoming season brings a chance at redemption. The rematch against Kansas scheduled for September 14 in Lawrence offers an opportunity for UNLV to turn the tables and shake off the frustrations of the previous game.

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About the Contributor
I'm Benjamin Vaskov, a sports editor for the Lance and a member of BGTV. Writing for the Lance helps me continue my passion for journalism, while BGTV lets me explore media content. As a dedicated Kansas City Chiefs fan, I'm always cheering for my team.  Beyond that, I love camping and traveling. This fall 2024, I'm excited to start my journalism studies at the University of Kansas.

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