For the second time this season, freshman kicker, Brandon Talton, secured victory for the Wolf Pack. His effort helped Nevada hold out against a second-half comeback versus San Jose State, 41-38.
Walk-on quarterback Malik Henry started his first game in a Wolf Pack uniform, completing 59 percent of his passes for 352 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Henry arrived on campus last spring after leaving Independence Community College in Kansas. Prior to his stint in the midwest, Henry played at Florida State University but never saw the field for the Seminoles.
Running back Toa Taua rushed for 160 yards on 34 carries with one rushing touchdown and a fumble. The lone touchdown brings his season total to three. Taua becomes the first Nevada running back this season to rush for over 100 yards.
Sophomore running back Devonte Lee found the endzone twice in the victory, rushing for 24 yards on 10 attempts. This was Lee’s second game of the season, previously playing limited snaps against Hawai’i earlier in the year. Lee suffered an ACL injury last season but continued to play through the pain throughout the 2018-19 campaign. Lee had surgery in the offseason to repair the damage to his knee.
Leading all wide receivers statistically, Romeo Doubs caught five passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown catch was his first receiving touchdown of the season.
Following closely behind Doubs, wide receiver Elijah Cooks caught six passes for 94 yards. His longest catch of the day came on a 55 yarder in the first quarter.
Defensive back EJ Muhammad leads Nevada in tackles with seven solo tackles. Fellow defensive back Austin Arnold had the Wolf Pack’s only interception of the day, which he returned 40 yards for a touchdown.
Kicker Brandon Talton was 2-2 on field goals, with one from 25 yards and another from 40 yards out.
After forcing San Jose St. into a three and out, Nevada responded with the game’s first score.
Following Henry’s first pass of the game—a 55-yard strike to Cooks—Lee got the Wolf Pack on the scoreboard with a two-yard rushing touchdown.
The Wolf Pack defense contributed to the hot start on the following Spartan possession, when No. 28, Austin Arnold, intercepted a pass from San Jose State quarterback Josh Love, returning it for a score. The interception was the first of Arnold’s career and raised Nevada’s lead to double digits.
After throwing the interception, Love responded on the following San Jose St. possession, finding wideout Andre Crump for a 46-yard pass. This set up a successful field goal for the Spartans, giving San Jose St. their first points of the afternoon.
Following a pair of punts, Nevada responded with another scoring drive. The Pack methodically marched down the field with an 11-play drive resulting in Lee’s second score of the game.
With 5:24 left in the second quarter, Wolf Pack kicker Brandon Talton capped off a 14-play drive with a 25 yard field goal. The score pushed the Wolf Pack’s lead to 21.
The final score of the half came with 27 seconds left in the second quarter. Spartans quarterback Love found Isaiah Hamilton for a 37-yard touchdown. Heading into the half, the Wolf Pack led the Spartans, 24-10.
On the first play of the second half, Malik Henry connected with Romeo Doubs for a 75-yard touchdown pass. This was Henry’s first touchdown of his FBS career, and the longest play for the Wolf Pack this season.
Nevada wouldn’t score again until late in the fourth quarter.
San Jose State responded immediately with a score of their own. Love once again took a deep shot, this time finding Bailey Gaither for a 60-yard strike. The score moved the Spartans to within two scores of tying up the match.
With 8:59 left in the third quarter, Henry was intercepted by Rico Tolefree, which set up another San Jose State scoring drive.
After the interception, San Jose State set up shop at the Nevada 29 yard line. It only took five plays for Love to lead the Spartans into the endzone again. A 13-yard pass from Love to Tre Walker set up a one-yard touchdown run by DeJon Packer.
Nevada and San Jose State traded punts well into the fourth quarter, ending when the Spartans tied up the ball game at 31 apiece. The Spartans drove down the field on a 10 play, 80-yard drive ending in a Walker touchdown catch from 20 yards out.
Nevada tried to milk the clock on the following possession, taking nearly four and a half minutes off the clock. The drive ended with Taua punching in the Pack’s last touchdown for a yard out.
San Jose State wouldn’t go down easily though, responding quickly with a touchdown of their own. In just over a minute, the Spartans marched 68 yards for a San Jose St. touchdown, tying the game again with 2:36 left in the game.
In the final possession of the game, Nevada drove 46 yards down the field, once again giving Talton a chance to secure a victory in Mackay Stadium. Talton nailed the 40-yard game-winner with time expiring. Talton previously hit a game-winner against Purdue in the season opener. He is now 12-12 on the season and in his career.
The win over San Jose State marks the first conference win for the Wolf Pack this season. Nevada is now 4-2 on the year and 1-1 in conference play.
The Wolf Pack now travels to Logan, Utah to face off against the Aggies of Utah State. The Aggies are 3-2 this season but are tied for first in the MW Mountain at 2-0 in conference play.
This will be the first meeting of the two teams since 2016, a close match where Nevada came out with a victory, 38-37.
Historically, Nevada is 18-6 against the Aggies all-time, with nine of those wins coming in Logan, Utah.
The Wolf Pack defense will have their hands full against Heisman candidate quarterback Jordan Love. Love has a 62.5 percent completion rate so far this season and is averaging 267 yards per game through the air.
The Wolf Pack offense will have a tough challenge as well, as the Aggie defense has held its opponents to an average of 25.6 points per game this season. Nevada will be hoping to ride the momentum of the San Jose State victory. The Aggies are coming off of a much-needed BYE week, as they were routed 42-6 by LSU.
Jory Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.