HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Close, but no cigar.
The Rainbow Warrior football team tried to claw themselves back into the game, but the deficit was too much as they fell to the UNLV Rebels, 31-23, at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
Led by Rebels (4-5, 3-3 MWC) quarterback Johnny Stanton, UNLV was able to string some big plays together against an improved Warriors (3-6, 1-5 MWC) defense especially in the third quarter when the Rebels scored 21 points after halftime.
Stanton threw for 244 yards on 18-of-26 passing with two touchdowns, including a 52-yard bomb to receiver Brandon Presley, who finished with 95 yards on four receptions and a score.
Running back Thomas "Lightening" Lexington tallied 98 yards on 24 carries including a touchdown.
UNLV jumped out to an early lead on their first drive of the game on a Stanton scramble to go ahead 7-0. The Warriors defense kept Hawaii in the game until kicker Alex Trifonovitch converted a couple of field goals in the second quarter to bring the game to 7-6 going into halftime.
In the third, the game got away from the Warriors.
Things started out well for Hawaii, successfully converting an onside kick, but soon the Rebels got the ball back and marched down field with a 52-yard Presley touchdown.
A few minutes later, UNLV got the ball back and Stanton found wideout Kendall Keys for a 10-yard touchdown reception.
Lexington then plunged into the end zone from three yards a minute and a half later after UNLV converted an onside kick of its own.
The Warriors tried to start a comeback with a touchdown from running back Diocemy Saint Juste touchdown, but they never found the end zone after the 11:46 mark in the fourth.
Trifonovitch converted a 27-yard field goal to bring the game to 31-20 with 2:15 left in the game, but Hawaii was unable to to take advantage of a red zone possession with less than a minute left in the game.
Quarterback Dru Brown finished with 269 yards passing on 24-of-47 attempts with a score, but his performance was to no avail.
The Warriors will look to turn things around next week at Aloha Stadium against Fresno State. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. HT.