Aztecs Fall Short 26-21 Against Nevada In Last-Minute Effort
The Wolf Pack stay undefeated at 5-0 after surviving a last-minute drive by San Diego State. Aztecs are now 3-2 in conference.
The Mountain West was the big winner after the match was moved from CBSSN to CBS due to Covid-19 cancellations.
Reno, NV- The Nevada Wolf Pack (5-0) ended Saturday with a high-profile 26-21 victory over San Diego State (3-2) at Mackay Stadium.
Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, did everything in his power to give the Aztecs a chance to win after he threw an interception at his own 26-yard-line with 3:23 left in the game. After a disastrous second half for the Aztecs, which followed a dazzling first half, this was their big break for a W.
Next, a six-yard completion to Daniel Bellinger. and a one-yard run by Chance Bell gave the Aztecs a first-and-goal opportunity at the Wolf Pack 4-yard-line. Aztecs fans everywhere were standing in front of their television sets screaming in panicked enthusiasm- before it all went south.
In their final four downs, the Aztecs failed to capitalize. First down: an incomplete pass that should have been caught- was missed. Second down: Greg Bell loses a yard during his run. Third down: a wide-open pass to Jesse Matthews is missed due to poor aim. Fourth down: quarterback Lucas Johnson throws the ball out of bounds… GAME OVER.
Some Aztecs fans said there was no way Rocky Long would lose this game, but in reality the Wolf Pack are now three victories in a row versus SDSU.
Whats worse for San Diego State: tailback Greg Bell and quarterback Lucas Johnson exited this game injured, and their status is yet unknown.
After the Aztecs completed the first half leading 21-16, Nevada’s defense was upgraded to stellar in the second half. SDSU managed 21 points, 252 yards and 13 first downs in the first half, but failed to score AT ALL in the second half. They accumulated just 41 yards, three first downs and five STRAIGHT three-and-outs. The first and second half contrast was just baffling for Aztecs fans.
Nevada defensive lineman Dom Peterson, a preseason All-Mountain West first team honoree, recorded two sacks and three tackles-for-loss. He now has 4.0 sacks on the season and 16.0 for his career — 0.5 away from cracking into the program’s Top-10 for most career sacks.
The Wolf Pack totaled 376 total yards against the Aztecs, the nation’s second-ranked defense (242.8 ypg) entering Saturday. They snapped SDSU’s streak of five straight games holding opponents to 300 or fewer yards.
Carson Strong went 31-for-46 (67.4 percent) for 288 passing yards with two touchdowns and one interception. It snapped a string of six consecutive 300-yard performances — one short of tying David Vargas’ record set in 1993.
Toa Taua registered 13 carries for 52 yards. Devonte Lee totaled 25 yards on seven carries. Both tailbacks had three catches apiece for 37 combined yards.
Justin Lockhart and Cole Turner totaled career-high receptions, each catching eight apiece. Turner totaled 50 receiving yards and Lockhart had 45 yards.
Romeo Doubs came alive in the second half of this game. He deftly managed five major receptions for a game-high 133 yards, including a 50-yard receiving touchdown. He has recorded 100-yard performances in each of the five games. He has 36 catches for 778 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Aztecs menaced Doubs in the first half, but he was uncontainable after halftime.
In the second half, Doubs pushed his limits — including a light third-quarter shove of Hall before hauling in a 50-yard TD pass from Strong that gave Nevada a 23-21 lead. Aztecs fans wanted to see Hoke contest the play.
A Talton field goal with 2:17 remaining in the third quarter added to the lead.
Talton missed a 51-yard attempt in the fourth quarter, ending a streak of 18 straight field goals, that provided the opportunity for the Aztecs to regain the lead with a touchdown.
But, it was unfortunately not to be.
Nevada is 5-0 for the first time since 2010, when it won its first six games. The Wolf Pack have started 5-0 just eight times- ever. Meanwhile San Diego State dropped to 3-2 in conference and are now completely out of the running for a conference championship.
The momentum from this game may give the Nevada Wolf Pack an edge to go undefeated.
San Diego State, on the other hand, has to regroup and soberly ask itself how this game- which was definitely winnable- was lost.