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UNLV in search of 2 good halves after 0-2 start

Once again, there were flashes. Glimpses of what UNLV’s football team is capable of. Even on the road against a ranked team like No. 23 Arizona State with an inexperienced quarterback making the first start of his college career.

Among those glimpses: The interception of an Arizona State pass in the UNLV end zone. Not one, but two scoring drives covering at least 10 plays and at least 70 yards. Two separate first-half leads and a manageable 14-10 halftime deficit.

But the Rebels need more than flashes to secure their first victory under coach Marcus Arroyo, and he would seem to know it.

“We’ve to continue to coach our tails off. Be very introspective … in regards to how we can finish a game and put two halves together,” Arroyo told reporters Saturday night after the 37-10 loss the Sun Devils. ”We’ve got a sour taste in our mouth in regards in how we put the whole thing together.”

For the second consecutive game, the Rebels played a couple good quarters. For the second consecutive game, they played a couple lousy ones, too.

Against Eastern Washington in the season opener, they managed a mere six points before uncorking quarterback Doug Brumfield in the third quarter and scoring 14 in the fourth.

Against Arizona State on Saturday, they controlled pace and tempo in the first half, forcing a turnover and embarking on two successful drives. But they managed only 22 offensive plays on seven second-half possessions.

Too little, too late in Week 1. Too little, period, in Week 2.

“We’ve got to put two halves together in all three phases of the game,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo made sure to credit Arizona State, which took advantage of UNLV’s fatiguing defense to score 23 unanswered points in the second half. The Sun Devils are in their fourth season under coach Herman Edwards and are developing the kind of continuity that Arroyo helps to cultivate with the Rebels.

They have a margin for error. Especially against a team like UNLV. The Rebels don’t. Not at this stage of Arroyo’s rebuild. Brumfield left the game midway through the third quarter after taking a big hit. Arroyo did not update his status afterward.

No. 9 Iowa State looms on Saturday at Allegiant Stadium.

“We’ve got to execute,” Arroyo said of Arizona State. “It’s going to take two halves of football to beat a team like that on the road.”

Or a team like the Cyclones at home.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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