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Brumfield earning respect from Rebels after hot start

With just over eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Doug Brumfield couldn’t find an open receiver.

The UNLV quarterback scrambled to his right, tucked the ball and ran out of bounds, but New Mexico linebacker Cody Moon delivered a late hit along the sideline.

That ignited what UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo called a “rugby scrum,” as the Rebels came to the defense of their starting quarterback who had just been laid out.

“It was great to see my teammates and fans pumped and ready to go,” Brumfield said.

It’s easy to see why he has the Rebels’ backing. Brumfield helped UNLV climb out of an early 17-point deficit to rally for a 31-20 victory over New Mexico late Friday at Allegiant Stadium.

The Rebels improved to 4-1 for the first time since 2003 and moved to 2-0 in the Mountain West for only the second time since the league was formed in 1999.

Arroyo anointed Brumfield as the starter just a few days before UNLV’s season opener, and the sophomore is showing that Arroyo made the right decision.

“I’m proud with how our team responded,” Arroyo said after the victory.

Moon was ejected after being called for a late hit penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play. Brumfield was down for several seconds before he popped up, but after being checked and cleared to return, he finished the game for the Rebels.

Brumfield is piloting a UNLV offense that, entering Saturday’s games, leads the Mountain West with 37.8 points per game.

The 6-foot-6-inch Inglewood, California, native leads the conference with 1,223 passing yards and eight touchdowns, along with a 70.5 completion percentage that ranks third.

Brumfield has also been effective on the ground with five rushing touchdowns, including one Friday. He has shown that he isn’t afraid to get hit as he’s fighting for yards.

“I’m fine,” Brumfield said after taking the big hit Friday. “It’s part of the game. I got hit and got back to it.”

Against the Lobos, Brumfield had to work with a thinner wide receiver corps with starters Jeff Weimer and Kyle Williams out.

Brumfield spread the wealth to seven different receivers, as he completed 24 of 33 passes for 233 yards. Arroyo said he was confident entering the game that the Rebels’ other receivers maintain the unit’s productivity.

“To have limited reps and be able to step up and play like those guys played, it says a lot about them and what we’re doing in the program,” Arroyo said.

The Rebels head on the road to face San Jose State on Friday.

Arroyo said that with the Rebels in first place in the West Division, he anticipates every team giving UNLV its best shot. He said New Mexico did that Friday night, building a 17-0 lead on the Rebels early in the second quarter.

Arroyo said the win showed him that the Rebels can battle through any test they will face in the Mountain West.

“We aren’t going to sneak up on anybody,” Arroyo said. “We’re playing good football, they know that, and we have to stay ready to go.”

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on Twitter.

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