by Jack Rieger
Another weekend has come and gone, and another Nevada loss has been dished out on the football field.
This time, the Wolf Pack (3-6, 1-4) loss was suffered at the hands of New Mexico (6-3, 4-1) in Albuquerque. The Lobos racked up an obscene 373 rushing yards on 64 carries, averaging 5.8 yards per rush. The Wolf Pack run defense has been getting torched all season, and the run-happy Mountain West Conference will continue to take advantage.
“That was a rough one,” linebacker Alex Bertrando said. “We played well at times and when we really needed to make plays we couldn’t do it.”
New Mexico converted 11 of 18 third-down attempts, as Nevada’s defense was unable to get off the field at crucial moments of the game. New Mexico threw the ball just 12 times compared to 64 rushing attempts. Nevada’s inadequate rush defense is a secret to no one.
“It’s beyond frustrating,” Polian said, speaking on the team’s performance as a whole, not just the rushing defense. “If I knew what the magic formula was to get it fixed, I would have waved my wand much earlier.”
The first half ended 14-14, as Nevada did a good job of forcing turnovers in the red zone. Elijah Mitchell intercepted Lamar Jordan on Nevada’s 10-yard line, and Gabe Sewell forced a fumble that was recovered by the Wolf Pack on Nevada’s nine-yard line.
The halftime intermission was one of the longest in recent memory. A lightening storm caused a one hour, 49-minute delay, forcing the second half to start at 10:44 p.m. Mountain Time. Nevada came out of the break off-balance, as New Mexico outscored the Wolf Pack 14-0 in the third quarter and outgained Nevada 129-4 in yardage.
“We managed it the best we could, but clearly they managed it a little better,” Polian said. “Do I think dealing with this in your home locker room in your own building is a little bit easier? Probably, but the reality is both teams had to deal with it and they were much more ready to play coming out in the third quarter than we were.”
New Mexico’s response was a 14-play, 63-yard touchdown drive with a heavy dose of run. After the next Nevada three-and-out, the Lobos hit on a 44-yard touchdown pass that put New Mexico up two touchdowns. Nevada rallied to make the score 28-26, but the Lobos scored the game’s final touchdown to make the final score 36-26.
In his first FBS start, Nevada quarterback Ty Gangi completed 19-of-34 passes for 301 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
“Disappointed we lost,” Gangi said. “We made some big plays and had some big mistakes. You can’t play up and down like that and win. You have to be consistent and have a steady pace and put up enough points to win.”
Nevada hosts San Diego State on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 pm.