Tony Sanchez went out with a bang.
Coaching his final game as head coach of the UNLV Rebels, Sanchez’ squad shocked cross-state rival Nevada (Reno) with a 33-30 overtime win.
This article isn’t about the game though. This is about what transpired following the final play. As you can see in the video below, UNLV connected on a touchdown pass right down the middle of the field to win the game in overtime. UNLV’s quarterback runs to the end zone to celebrate the win, hugs an offensive lineman and then as he’s leaving the end zone appears to say something in passing to a Nevada defensive back (left side of the video, on the goal line). The game is over at this point. UNLV’s quarterback takes his helmet off to celebrate and is immediately sucker punched by the defensive back.
Best video I’ve seen of the fight. Appears Nevada’s Austin Arnold threw the first punch (a punch from behind on UNLV’s quarterback). Kenyon Obland might have said something to spark it, but that punch led to the brawl.
— Chris Murray (@MurrayNSN) December 1, 2019
Chris Murray has more on the events and the aftermath including the following quotes from Nevada head coach Jay Norvell.
“I don’t even really know what happened to be honest with you,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said of the post-game fireworks. “I can’t speak about it. It’s an emotional game, a lot of these kids know each other. Either way, winning a game or losing a game, there’s never an excuse to act the wrong way. I’m not quite sure what happened. We’ll get to the bottom of it. It’s a football game, it’s competitive, it’s emotional and it’s a hard game for a lot of these kids. A lot of these kids will never get a chance to play in this game again. A lot of these kids never get a chance to play in Mackay again.”
“I don’t really know what happened,” Norvell reiterated. “I’m very proud of how our kids act and respond. Everybody is an adult, everybody is responsibility for their own actions. I’m not sure what happened. I just know their whole team ran over to us after the game. I know that. I was standing there when they did it. I’m not making excuses for anybody’s actions. I don’t know what happened, so I can’t comment on it.”
Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth and UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois have released the following joint statement:
“The events that occurred following today’s football game have no place in college athletics and we are deeply disappointed by this incident, which detracts from what was a hard-fought and emotional football game between our state’s only two NCAA programs.
“We are examining all available video from the incident and working with the Mountain West office in a full review. Additionally, we are working with the University of Nevada, Reno Police Department to review the actions on the field and in the stands after the game.
“Rivalry games are at the heart of what should be great about intercollegiate athletics. We will continue to prioritize sportsmanship at all of our events, especially those between our two great institutions.”