Ohio’s potent rushing attack held off Nevada’s late comeback bid in a 30-21 loss during the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Friday, Jan. 3, at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho.
The Bobcats’ 288 rushing yards for the game limited Nevada’s 12 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Ohio dominated the line of scrimmage for most of the contest, but the Wolf Pack’s resilience showed.
After a late-season push to become bowl eligible, Nevada ended the year with a 7-6 record and 4-4 in conference play. The Wolf Pack haven’t won at Albertsons Stadium/Bronco Stadium—home of the conference rival Boise State Broncos—since 1997.
Ohio recorded 432 yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke threw for 144 passing yards. The mobile signal-caller added 87 rushing yards and one touchdown in the victory. Running backs De’Montre Tuggle and Julian Ross combined for 154 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Nevada had 430 yards of total offense. Redshirt freshman quarterback Carson Strong completed 31-49 passes for a career-high 402 yards with one touchdown and one fumble. Wide receiver Elijah Cooks hauled in a career-high 14 catches for 197 receiving yards and one touchdown.
The Wolf Pack couldn’t match Ohio’s efficiency on the ground. Toa Taua had a team-high 48 rushing yards on six carries. Devonte Lee added nine rushing yards and one touchdown.
Nevada’s defense came alive in the fourth quarter with two turnovers and two punts to spark a late comeback. Defensive tackle Dom Peterson forced a strip-sack of Rourke to keep Nevada’s hopes alive.
The Pack opened the game with a 51-yard field goal from kicker Brandon Talton. The score marked the longest field goal attempt in Nevada bowl history. Ohio tied the game at 3-3 with a 29-yard field goal from kicker Louie Zervos.
Ohio running back Julian Ross’ 12-yard touchdown put the Bobcats ahead 10-3 with 12:28 remaining in the second quarter. During the 15-play drive, Ohio converted twice on 4th-and-1 deep in Nevada territory. It was just the eighth time Ohio went for it on fourth down all season.
Talton’s second made field goal cut Nevada’s deficit to 10-6 with 7:26 remaining in the first half. Ohio responded with a 35-yard rushing touchdown from Rourke down the sidelines, putting the Bobcats up 17-6.
Both teams traded field goals during the final minutes of the first half, Ohio led 20-9. The Bobcats continued their dominance in the second half.
Following a 26-yard field goal from Zervos, Ohio recovered Strong’s fumble at the Nevada 48 yard line. The Bobcats took advantage with a two-yard touchdown and led 30-9 heading into the fourth quarter.
Nevada scored its first touchdown of the game when Strong connected with Cooks to trim the deficit. On the ensuing possession, Peterson’s strip-sack fumble led to Lee’s two-yard score to cut Ohio’s lead to 30-21.
The Pack couldn’t complete the comeback in the end. Nevada fumbled on its ensuing possession and turned it over on downs.
Following a second-straight bowl game appearance under head coach Jay Norvell, Nevada will gear up for the 2020-21 campaign.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.