Nevada vs. Fresno State Final: Bulldogs Special Teams Issue Leads To Defeat
Nevada Sends the Dogs Packing
Wolf Pack did enough for the win
In a much-anticipated, conference-altering matchup, Fresno State and Nevada was by any means an ordinary Saturday evening game.
The Bulldogs hadn’t played in nearly three weeks due to COVID issues, and Nevada had just suffered its first loss of the season to Hawaii a week before.
What happened Saturday evening was perhaps one of the strangest and wildest games we have seen all year. Fresno State ran over 100 plays, Jake Haener and Carson Strong combined for over 800 yards passing and seven scores, and Romeo Doubs and Ronnie Rivers combined for zero touchdowns.
None of the words above are mistakes, either.
The Nevada Wolf Pack climbed the conference standings with a wacky and wild 37-26 win over Fresno State at MacKay Stadium.
Let’s break this down a little bit, shall we?
Nevada scored a field goal on the first drive of the game, and Fresno State responded with a 9-yard rushing score by Josh Kelly. Nevada then forced a fumble and a blocked punt on back-to-back Bulldogs possessions — which led to a pair of Pack touchdowns- and Nevada never looked back.
Fresno State special teams were atrocious in the first quarter, and couldn’t overcome two huge miscues as Nevada capitalized. It doesn’t help the Bulldogs were down its kicker, punter, and long snapper.
Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong continued his stellar campaign, finishing with a stat line of 23 for 39 with 354, five touchdowns and two picks. On the other side, Jake Haener must be extremely sore, finishing with 485 yards with a pair of scores, 41 completions, and 65 attempts.
The Bulldogs offense ran over 100 plays, and it didn’t help that Ronnie Rivers had his worst statistical game of the season, finishing with 14 carries for 69 yards and nine catches for 38 yards. Wide receiver Zane Pope made his 2020 debut and finished with five catches for 96 yards and a score, and both Keric Wheatfall and Jalen Cropper eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the night.
However, the story of the game wasn’t Rivers, Doubs, Strong or Haener. That’s right. The man who stole the show was Fresno Native and Nevada freshman wide receiver Tory Horton. Horton was fantastic in what might have been a revenge game, going absurd with five catches for 149 yards and three trips to the end zone, including an 85-yarder and a 32-yarder (both for touchdowns) in what seemingly ended the game for Nevada.
The Bulldogs had 599 yards of total offense, and Nevada had 416 yards of offense in a bonafide-albeit not-so-pretty-shootout.
If I would’ve told you that Jake Haener would throw for over 400 yards without throwing an interception and lost, would you believe that?
That’s exactly what happened.
Matt Kenerley wrote about the potential options and outcomes for the conference title game, it what’s been a wild and insane 2020 COVID-19 shortened season.
Fresno State will try and forget about this one and prepare for their final game of the year, unless they get selected for a bowl game. The Bulldogs finish the season out against New Mexico on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Nevada will also head to Las Vegas, and will take on San Jose State Friday night, also at Sam Boyd Stadium, as that game was relocated due to California’s new coronavirus infrastructure.