In arguably one of their biggest victories in years, Nevada Football defeated San Diego State in a close affair, 28-24.
Nevada snaps SDSU’s six-game win streak, handing the Aztecs their first conference loss of the season, and their three game losing streak to San Diego State. Nevada improved their own record to 5-4 — improving their conference record to 3-2 — tied for third in the Mountain West conference.
Nevada head coach Jay Norvell picks up back-to-back wins for the first time in his Nevada tenure.
Senior quarterback Ty Gangi slung the pigskin for 235 yards, completing 53.5 percent of his passes, adding on two touchdowns. SDSU’s front seven did an excellent job stopping Nevada’s run game surrendering only 62 total rushing yards — Nevada’s second lowest mark of the season. Freshman running back Devonte Lee led that crew, rushing for 32 yards on seven attempts and one touchdown.
Freshman phenomenon, running back Toa Taua, led Nevada in receiving with seven receptions for 51 yards, hauling in his first career receiving touchdown. Junior receiver Brendan O’Leary-Orange had arguably his best game of the season — hauling in four receptions for 51 yards, both season-highs — O’Leary-Orange hauled in a touchdown, his third touchdown of the season.
San Diego State came out red hot to begin the first half. The Aztecs drove down 75 yards on 12 plays. Junior quarterback Ryan Agnew slung the pigskin for 58 of those 75 yards, including a two-yard pass to sophomore running back Chase Jasmin, giving SDSU an early 7-0 lead.
On their ensuing drive, Agnew tore up Nevada’s secondary once again, throwing for 59 of their 75 yards, finished off by floating a 16-yard touchdown in the left corner of the endzone to junior tight end Kahale Warring, putting Nevada in a 14-0 hole. Warring hauled in six receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns — all career-highs.
The Pack were forced to punt for their second consecutive drive, pinning the Aztecs at their own 1-yard line. A holding call forced a safety on SDSU, giving Nevada two points.
On Nevada’s subsequent possession, they drove down 50 yards, capped off by Gangi connecting with Taua, who tiptoed down the sideline scoring from 40 yards out, trimming the Aztec lead to 14-9.
Nevada touched the endzone two drives later, completing a six-play, 53-yard drive, which was finished off by O’Leary-Orange from 26 yards out. O’Leary-Orange bobbled Gangi’s pass initially, but was able to hold possession, and broke a couple tackles on the way to the endzone. Senior kicker Ramiz Ahmed missed the extra point, his third missed extra point on the season. Nevada took a 15-14 lead.
Nevada’s defense bent, but did not break, forcing the Aztecs to settle for a 26-yard field goal. San Diego State continued to pile onto their lead, driving down 63 yards on three plays, including a 30-yard touchdown pass from Agnew to Kahale Warring, his second touchdown of the game. San Diego State head into the half with a 24-15 lead.
Nevada started strong to begin the second half. Nevada drove down 75-yards on eight plays, finished off by Lee bursting in between the tackles, rushing into the endzone from two yards out on a wildcat play, cutting SDSU’s lead to 24-22.
The Pack offense drove down inside the red zone their following possession, but couldn’t capitalize, settling for a 32-yard field goal from Ahmed, giving Nevada a 25-24 lead.
Aztecs true freshman Jordan Byrd would cough up a fumble on a punt return, recovered by Wolf Pack senior defensive back Jomon Dotson, giving Nevada prime field position at the Aztecs’ 17-yard line. Nevada’s offense went stagnant, unable to get one yard on the drive. Nevada settled for a field goal from 34 yards out, extending Nevada’s lead to 28-24.
Nevada enters a bye week next week and will take on Colorado State on senior night in two weeks, on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.
Colorado State is led by quarterback KJ Carta-Samuels. Carta-Samuels is third in the Mountain West in passing yards with 2,172 yards, and fourth in passing touchdowns with 18 — two more than Gangi. Second in the Mountain West to only Boise State, Colorado State averages 310 passing yards per game, 14th in the nation.
Colorado State’s receiving core has two main receiving threats with former Tennessee transfer Preston Williams and Olabisi Johnson. Williams has hauled in 71 catches for 951 yards and eight touchdowns, leading the team in each category. Johnson has 43 receptions for his own for 601 yards and four touchdowns.
The Rams’ running core is led by Izzy Matthews, who has rushed for 529 yards, third in the conference, averaging 4.1 yards per carry and three touchdowns. Matthews has also hauled in 21 catches for 131 yards and one touchdown.
Expect Nevada’s secondary to be tested. Colorado State leads the Mountain West with 43 passing attempts per game, five more than Nevada’s air raid offense.
Matt Hanifan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.