Wolf Pack football’s home opener did not go as planned, with the Toledo Rockets topping the Pack 37-24 with a relatively balanced attack picking a part Nevada in all facets of the game.
Nevada began the game with a six-play 20-yard drive that resulted in a punt. Pack QB Ty Gangi connected on two of his four passes for a loss of seven yards. The lone first down of the drive came on an 11-yard burst from Jaxson Kincaide.
Following the Pack punt, the Rockets had favorable field position, starting its drive on Nevada’ s 45-yard line. Toledo QB Logan Woodside and running back Terry Swanson combined for a few good plays, until the Rockets’ drive stalled at the Nevada seven, as they settled for a field goal
Down three to nothing, Nevada looked to even the score on its next drive as it began on its on 25. After a 1st down pick up from Kelton Moore and a huge 32 yard connection between Gangi and McLane Mannix for 32 yards, the Pack lost its momentum. Pack Kicker Spencer Pettit brought out the big guns, knocking in a field goal from 47 yards out.
The next two drives featured two unwavering defenses as neither Nevada, nor Toledo gave up any ground, with both offenses going three and out.
Toledo was not fond of being stuffed on its previous drive. With a short field ahead of the Rockets, the team drove 50 yards down the field leading to a touchdown toss from Woodside to Diontae Johnson. Nevada also lost junior defensive back Asauni Rufus for the rest of the game on this drive as he got flagged for targeting.
Nevada failed to muster up any type of offensive consistency over its next two drives gaining a whopping 13 yards over nine plays.
Rockets running back Swanson led the Rockets to another score following a punt in the second quarter from Nevada. With optimal field position once again, Swanson gathered 20 yards on four attempts for a Toledo touch down, spreading the gap.
The Pack’s next drive would replicate much of what the team’s offensive unit did for most of the first half, three plays and quickly off the field.
The Rockets did not falter when given the opportunity to add to the lead as they moved 60 yards down the field, ultimately settling for a chip shot of a field goal.
With pressure mounting for the Wolf Pack’s offense to do something worth noting in the first half, Nevada knew it was time to answer back with something after Toledo put up 17 unanswered points. With a 75 yards ahead of the Pack and five minutes on the clock Nevada’s best drive of the first half almost didn’t get off the ground after Gangi recovered his own fumble on the first play of the drive. After the initial slipup Nevada moved smoothly towards the endzone through the air and a couple of penalties on Toledo. Gangi capped the drive off with a 19-yard toss to Daiyan Henley.
After half time something must have been said to both offensive units because neither defense had an answer for what their opponent brought to the table this half.
Toledo started the quarter with a lengthy 75-yard drive, chewing nearly six and a half minutes off the game clock. With a relatively run heavy attack, Nevada got lulled into protecting the run and Woodside connected with receiver Cody Thompson for a 27-yard gain, putting Toledo just 3 yards from pay dirt. After three attempts, Swanson finally broke through for a Rockets touchdown.
With the clock working against them, Nevada needed its next drive to result in a precise, speedy touchdown. The air raid offense was in full effect during this drive as Nevada went 75 yards for a score in a minute and a half. After converting a nerve racking fourth and one on its own 49, Gangi completed a 31-yard pass to Wyatt Demps to put Nevada at the Toledo one. This week Gangi ran the QB sneak, scoring a TD on first and goal.
Just as fast as Nevada got closer to evening up the score, Toledo’s offense became nearly unstoppable. After a touchback, another 75-yard drive loomed for Woodside and the Toledo offensive unit. Woodside and the Toledo offense had no problem dicing up the Nevada secondary, topping off the drive with an 8 yard touchdown pass to Thompson.
With just four minutes left in the third Nevada was getting used to playing catch up, and a quick paced one at that. Leaving no time for second guessing, or allowing the Toledo defense to get a beat on them, Gangi connects with Mannix on a streak that goes the distance. Nevada wraps up a 75-yard drive in just one play.
Toledo made it to the Nevada 36 before the third ended. With this drive looking quite similar to the previous ones, Nevada’s defense had no choice but to stand on its head and show some backbone. Toledo ended up driving to the Nevada 14 before attempting a 31-yard field goal and failing to convert.
Down 10 with 13 minutes to go, the Pack had to be perfect to even up the score and possibly force an overtime. Nevada opened its drive with a picture perfect pass from Gangi to Demps for a 50-yard gain. Nevada was already at the Toledo 30 in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, just as fast as the first play electrified Mackay Stadium, the crowd’s enthusiasm dissipated following a fumble from Gangi recovered by Toledo’s Nate Childress.
After the fumble, Nevada’s defense made another key stop to give its offense a final shot at chipping into the lead and possibly tying the game up.
However, with the game on the line, Gangi hesitated in the pocket. After his initial pump fake, he was hit attempting to throw to his next option and got picked off by Toledo’s Ja’Wuan Woodley.
Toledo went on to put another field goal between the posts, ending the game with a score of 37-24. Nevada’s run game was non-existent in the home loss to Toledo, as Kincaide and Kelton Moore combined for 18 carries and 89 yards. Gangi threw for 277 yards, two touchdowns and one interception garnering a dismal quarterback rating of 36.9. Although it appears that the Nevada defense let in a hefty amount of points, many of its drives started on its side of the 50.
Nevada looks to square off versus Idaho State this Saturday at Mackay Stadium. Kickoff is at 4:00 PM and the Bengals are 1-1 following a blowout loss to Utah State University.