Nevada Knocks Off Arkansas State in Overtime 16-13 to win the 2018 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Nevada Outlasts Arkansas State in Overtime 16-13 To Win NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
The Nevada Wolf Pack leaned on an excellent defense and key offensive plays to defeat Arkansas State in overtime to win the 2018 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
If you look at the final stats of this game, one would think that the Wolf Pack would have lost big to the Red Wolves.
The Red Wolves outgained the Wolf Pack by a count of 499 to 285, gained more first downs than Nevada (25 to Nevada’s 15) and the Red Wolves committed few penalties than Nevada (Arkansas State four to Nevada’s six)
Despite the Red Wolves being better than the Wolf Pack in these and many other stats, the Wolf Pack overcame those deficiencies by riding a strong defense and the offense making plays at the right time late to defeat Arkansas State in overtime 16-13 to win their second Arizona Bowl Championship. Nevada’s bowl victory over Arkansas State on Saturday puts the Mountain West conference bowl record at 3-2 for the 2018 bowl season.
The Wolf Pack offense was abysmal for three plus quarters but in the end, the Wolf Pack made the plays they needed to on offense to put the game into overtime and eventually winning their eighth game of the season.
The Wolf Pack defense kept Nevada in this game by picking off Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen three times and limiting a very prolific Arkansas State offense to just ten points. The defense alone was enough to give the Wolf Pack offense the opportunity to finally break through and make big plays at the right time.
With the score 7-3 late in regulation, the Wolf Pack offense finally got on track as they went on a ten play, 74 yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run from Devonte Lee out of the Wildcat formation to give the Wolf Pack a 10-7 lead late in the fourth quarter.
Arkansas State got the ball back and marched the ball down into Nevada territory to set up Blake Groupe to attempt a field goal to send the game into overtime. Groupe’s 32 yard field goal was good and the game went into overtime tied up at 10-10.
In the overtime period, the Red Wolves went first on offense and moved the ball into the red zone where the Wolf Pack stopped the Red Wolves on third down and forced Arkansas State to kick a field goal. Groupe did nail a 24 yard field goal to put Arkansas State up 13-10 in the first overtime.
Five plays into Nevada’s first overtime possession, Ty Gangi connected with tight end Regan Robertson for an 11-yard touchdown (Robertson’s second catch of the season by the way) for the win to give the Wolf Pack eight wins for the first time since joining the Mountain West back in 2012.
For the Wolf Pack, quarterback Ty Gangi went 18 for 34 for 200 yards and threw a touchdown and two interceptions in his final game as quarterback for Nevada. Junior wide receiver Ben Putman was the leading receiver for the Wolf Pack as he caught four passes for 114 yards in the winning effort. Freshman running back Toa Taua was the leading receiver for Nevada as he carried the ball 22 times for 56 yards.
For Arkansas State, quarterback Justice Hansen completed 26 passes out of 46 attempted for 275 and no touchdown passes but three interceptions. Warren Wand was the leading rusher for the Red Wolves as he carried the ball 16 times for 140 yards. The leading receiver for Arkansas State was Omar Bayless as he caught seven passes for 129 yards in the losing effort.
For the Wolf Pack, they end the 2018 season on a high note winning their second Arizona Bowl championship in three years and finishes the season at 8-5. Nevada does have to replace quarterback Ty Gangi in 2019 but whoever is the Wolf Pack’s starting quarterback in 2019, they will have some talented players at the skills positions to work with and a talented defense to help them out as well.