Nevada Squeaks Past San Jose State
Wolf Pack win in the wind
Nevada gets revenge from last season, narrowly escaping with a 27-24 win over the San Jose State Spartans.
Both teams started off slow Saturday night in Mackay Stadium. Both Nevada and San Jose State started off with quick possessions which ended in punts. It wasn’t until Spartan’s running back Tyler Nevens fumbled and Nevada’s Daiyan Henley returned the loose ball 56 yards to make it 7-0. Nevens made up for it later in the quarter, catching a five-yard pass from Nick Starkel, tying the contest at seven. The players would go into the locker room, with the game tied 7-7.
Starkel returned after sitting out the past five contests. The 6’3 quarterback went 21-40 throwing for 255 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in his first game back. Nick Nash saw limited time throwing 4-9 for 33 yards and an interception. Nevens had an impressive night despite the solo turnover.
The Spartans running back had 119 yards on 14 carries but failed to see the endzone. It didn’t take long to see the connection return between Starkel and wide receiver Jermaine Braddock. The 6’1 junior had quite the night, catching seven passes for 140 yards.
Both teams woke up somewhat after halftime. It was Nevada’s defense that was doing the heavy lifting, scoring yet again and bailing out the Wolf Pack offense. Nevada’s Berdale Robins picked off Nash’s pass attempt and returned it 86 yards putting the Wolf Pack up 14-7 early in the third quarter. It was back to punting for both teams until a field goal from Nevada kicker Brandon Talton made the contest 17-7.
Kicking would be the story of the night as Talton, who was 17 for 21 in field goal and a perfect 35 for 35 on extra-point attempts on the season, missed his first three field-goal attempts. Talton would have a chance to make up for the misses later in the game. Spartan kicker Matt Mercurio also missed his first two field-goal attempts, before kicking one through the uprights later in the second half.
San Jose State made a run later in the third and going into the fourth quarter. Starkel completed a pass to Malikhi Miller for 48 yards bring the game to within three. Early in the fourth quarter, San Jose State had a field goal of their own tying the game up at 17. Nevada’s offense finally put some points on the board with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Carson Strong connected with Romeo Doubs for a 20-yard touchdown making the game 24-17. San Jose State responded with a touchdown of their own. Starkel and company marched down the field before a two-yard touchdown pass from Starkel to Derrick Deese Jr tied things up yet again, 24-24 with 1:47 left to play in the game. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of games from Nevada, but when the Wolf Pack needed to score, they stepped up. Nevada had a 11 play 47 yard drive to put the Wolf Pack in position for Talton to win the game.
With three seconds left on the game clock, Talton kicked it through the uprights, winning the game for Nevada. The scene had an aerie feeling, mirroring almost the same exact play as the 2019 contest when San Jose State lost in a last-second field goal that year as well. Nevada beat San Jose State, 27-24.
Nevada’s offense struggled to get anything going in this contest. Strong threw the ball 54 times completing 36 passes for 314 yards, two interceptions, and one touchdown. This was the first game since Wyoming in 2019 where Strong threw more interceptions than he did touchdowns. Nevada only had 53 net yards rushing the ball and failed to get a rushing touchdown. It was Nevada’s defense that scored the first two scored for the Wolf Pack and the special teams unit left nine points on the board in missed field goals.
Next up for Nevada, the Wolf Pack (7-2) travel to face the San Diego State Aztecs (8-1). San Jose State (5-5) goes back to the bay area and hosts the Utah State Aggies (7-2).