Nevada football drops to 5-2 Saturday with a 34-32 loss to Fresno State. In another must win game for college football legitimacy, similar to their week three game against Kansas State, the Wolf Pack suffered another disappointing loss which is an immense blow towards their chances of being ranked in the top 25.
The Wolf Pack had 523 yards of total offense. Junior quarterback Carson Strong had a magnificent game completing 49-of-61 passes for 476 yards and four touchdowns. He threw one costly interception in the red zone in the first quarter, but he still finished with a QBR of 71.8. Strong’s impressive performance had one main beneficiary which was senior wide receiver Romeo Doubs. Doubs had an incredible game with 19 receptions for 203 yards and a touchdown. Senior tight end Cole Turner had another great game catching eight passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Justin Lockhart had a solid performance with six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown, and sophomore wide receiver Tory Horton turned in a modest six receptions for 49 yards.
The absolute dominance Nevada achieved through the air did not carry over on the ground, as senior running back Toa Taua led the team with 12 carries and 62 yards. There were no touchdowns from the Nevada running back room.
The Wolf Pack defensively did not rise to the occasion as they conceded 461 total yards. It was a mixed attack by Fresno State as they passed for 256 yards and rushed for 205 yards.
The Nevada defense was led by senior linebacker Lawson Hall with seven solo tackles and 10 tackles in total. Senior defensive back Jordan Lee had seven solo tackles and senior linebacker Daiyan Henley finished with eight tackles. The Nevada defensive line had a mediocre game as they did not consistently pressure Fresno State quarterback Jake Heaner. However, freshman defensive end Isaiah Overton had an impressive game with one sack and three tackles for loss.
There was a slow start to this game as the two teams traded punts on the first four drives. Nevada got on the board with a 32 yard field goal by junior Brandon Talton. This lead did not last long as Fresno State ripped off a 64 yard touchdown run on the following drive. The score was 7-3 at the end of the first.
In the second quarter, Fresno State would be the first to put points on the board with a 1 yard rushing touchdown to make the score 14-3. Nevada responded with a Strong pass to Turner for a 2 yard touchdown. The Wolf Pack headed into the locker room down 14-10 at half.
The second half would follow a similar script to the first half with Nevada playing catch up as Fresno State scored on a 11 yard touchdown pass. The score was now 21-10 early in the third quarter. Nevada, not giving up, put together a 10 play drive which was capped off by a 30 yard touchdown pass from Strong to Lockhart. This 21-16 score was increased yet again by Fresno State as they scored on a seven yard touchdown pass on the next drive. Fresno State had a 28-16 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The resilient Nevada team scored on the first play of the fourth quarter as Strong connected with Doubs for an 11 yard touchdown pass. The Wolf Pack made it a one score game as they were down 28-23 in the early fourth.
The Nevada defense finally was able to stop the Fresno State offense, holding the Bulldogs to two field goals on back to back drives. Nevada losing 34-23 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter began to start their unlikely comeback. The Wolf Pack kicked a 38 yard field goal to make the score 34-26. The Nevada defense showed up late in the fourth, forcing two Fresno State punts on back to back drives. This left Strong with 53 seconds left on the clock to drive 90 yards. Strong led a skillful drive down the field which ended with a 12 yard touchdown pass to Turner. The score was 34-32 with two seconds left as Nevada now needed the two point conversion to take the game into overtime. Strong threw to Doubs, who made a tough catch in the back of the end zone, but unfortunately he was unable to get his feet inbounds. Nevada’s comeback came up short as they lost a nail biter in the final seconds with a final score of 34-32.
Nevada football will look to improve on their loss and keep their offensive momentum going into their next game against their rivals UNLV on Oct. 29 at home.
Anthony Miranda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush