Nevada football improved to 5-1 Saturday with an impressive 34-17 victory over Hawaii. Their victory kicks the year off with a 2-0 conference record and a 3-0 record at home.
The Wolf Pack had 477 yards of total offense. Junior quarterback Carson Strong completed 34 of 54 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns. Strong played a good game and threw no interceptions on the way to a great QBR of 73.2. He shared the love by throwing to seven different offensive players and connected with three receivers on passes over 20 yards.
Senior tight end Cole Turner led the team with a monstrous 12 receptions for 175 yards. Senior Romeo
Doubs had a solid receiving performance of four receptions, 83 yards and a touchdown. Junior Melquan Stovall turned in seven catches for 71 yards, and sophomore Tory Horton found the end zone in the third quarter with one of his three receptions for 10 yards. The Wolf Pack found success through the air as they rushed for a modest 82 yards. Senior running back Toa Taua had an incredible game with 21 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
Nevada football shined on both sides of the ball with the defense turning in an equal, if not more impressive, performance. The defense did give up 393 total yards, but they held Hawaii to a 30 percent third down efficiency and forced two turnovers on downs. The Wolf Pack showed how dynamic their defense can be with five sacks and five forced turnovers. Senior defensive back JoJuan Claiborne had a team high seven tackles with six of those tackles being solo. The Nevada defensive line had freshman Hawaii quarterback Brayden Schager under duress all night with their effective pass rush. The unit was led by senior defensive tackle Tristan Nichols who was outstanding with two sacks and three tackles for loss. There was a no fly zone on Saturday night with three Nevada linebackers picking off Schager. The team was led by senior Daiyan Henley with two interceptions, followed by seniors Lawson Hall and Trevor Price each with one interception.
Nevada football started the game off slow after they settled for a 23-yard field goal on their first drive. Things would only get worse when Hawaii freshman running back Dae Dae Hunter exploded for a 75 yard touchdown run on Hawaii’s first play from scrimmage. The Wolf Pack ended the first quarter down 7-3.
Nevada found success in the second quarter with a 6 yard Toa Taua touchdown run. The 10-7 Wolf Pack lead was short lived because Hawaii’s Hunter used his blazing speed to torch the Nevada defense with an 81 yard touchdown run. The Wolf Pack responded with another rushing touchdown as Taua found the end zone on a ten yard run to take the lead 17-14. The teams traded field goals, and Nevada took a 20-17 lead into halftime.
The third quarter is when the Wolf Pack began to take over the game. The Nevada defense started to get in rhythm, intercepting Schager on the opening drive of the second half. The offense took this momentum and turned it into a 28-yard touchdown pass from Strong to Doubs. This gave Nevada the 27-17 lead in the third quarter. The Nevada defense the following drive once again intercepted Schager and the offense turned this into a 91-yard touchdown drive. The drive was capped off by a three yard touchdown down pass from Strong to Horton to make the lead 34-17.
The score to start the fourth quarter was 34-17, and this lead remained for the rest of the game as the intense Nevada defense continued their dominance in the second half. They forced punts, turnovers on downs and added one more interception in the fourth quarter. The Wolf Pack slowly ran the clock out until Strong ended the game with the Nevada offense in victory formation.
Nevada football will take this three game win streak into a tough matchup against a 5-2 Fresno State team on Oct. 23.
Anthony Miranda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush