Nevada lost in heartbreaking fashion this past Friday night. Air Force kicker Luke Strebel kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired to give the Falcons a 45-42 win over the now 1-7 Wolf Pack.
The competitive, high-scoring affair was incredible to watch as neither team was able to grab a lead greater than eight points. The downside for the Wolf Pack was that they never led after losing the lead with 3:18 left in the second quarter.
The Pack offense continued their success from their game last week against Colorado State. Quarterback Ty Gangi had 239 yards passing and two touchdowns with true freshman Daiyan Henley making a fantastic one-handed grab for one of them. Gangi also ran for a touchdown in the game. Head coach Jay Norvell once again dug into his bag of tricks when Nevada scored on a double-pass touchdown as Ty Gangi threw a lateral to receiver Andrew Celis as Celis immediately connected with an open Wyatt Demps in the end zone. The running game was also solid as Kelton Moore had just over 100 yards for the game, while Jaxson Kincaide missed another game due to injury.
Unfortunately, the Nevada defense continued to struggle. The defense gave up 550 rushing yards and three different Air Force players had over 100 yards each. They also gave up six touchdowns, all on the ground, from five different players. The defense did win the turnover battle as they intercepted Air Force quarterback Arion Worthman once and recovered a Worthman fumble. Senior linebacker Austin Paulhus and veteran defensive back Asani Rufus each tallied over 20 total tackles in the game.
The biggest difference in the game seemed to be time of possession. Nevada held the ball for just over 18 minutes while Air Force more than doubled that with over 41 minutes of possession. This was critical in the last minutes of the game. Nevada started their last drive at the 18-yard line with 6:38 left in the game. They went down the field and scored a touchdown in just seven plays taking only two minutes and 57 seconds off the clock. Air Force then took the field licking their lips as they geared up for an all-or-nothing drive against a defense they had dominated all night. With just under four minutes to get into field goal range and win the game, the Falcons offense started from their own 25-yard line. They executed their plan to perfection, as they ran the clock down to just four seconds before calling a timeout to set up Strebel’s game winner.
The loss once again showed that the Pack’s deficiencies are on the defensive side of the ball. In the loss against then #18 ranked Washington State, they gave up just under 500 passing yards and now they give up over 500 yards on the ground.
This week Nevada has a bye, and they should use it to try and prepare the defense for the difficult matchup next Saturday against conference foe Boise State on Nov. 4. The Broncos go in as an overwhelming favorite as ESPN’s FPI gives them a 87.7 percent chance to defeat the Wolf Pack.