The potent connection of Nevada quarterback Carson Strong and wide receiver Romeo Doubs was on full display in a 34-9 victory over Utah State at Mackay Stadium.
Strong and Doubs have gotten off to a hot start to the truncated eight-game 2020 season, and Thursday night was no exception. The dynamic duo connected for 137 yards and three first half touchdowns en-route to an offensive explosion against the Aggies.
Doubs finished with seven catches for 137 receiving yards and three touchdowns on the night. Strong completed 36-of-52 passes for 411 yards and three touchdowns. The redshirt sophomore signal caller has thrown for 350-plus yards in five straight games.
As a whole, Nevada improved to 3-0 on the season for the first time since 2010. Wolf Pack head coach Jay Norvell is impressed with his team’s play thus far.
“We’re showing the type of team we are capable of being,” he said. “I’m starting to really believe in this team because of how we prepare… We’ve got a long ways to go, but we’re excited about this next opportunity.”
Strong and Doubs have developed chemistry over the offseason, and it’s paid dividends to this point. They’ve connected on 40-plus yard scores three times and have more room to grow as a unit.
“Romeo is an amazing football player,” Norvell said. “Him and Carson have great chemistry. The plays that they made early kind of gave us that confidence back and got us back in the game.”
Nevada posted a season-high 542 yards of total offense. Running back Toa Taua ran for a season-high 107 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown. Justin Lockhardt added six catches for 95 yards. Utah State jumped out to a 9-0 lead, but Nevada’s offense responded with 34 unanswered points to take a stranglehold of the lead.
“They showed us different things defensively and our kids had to adjust to that,” he said. “We just kind of settled down, and made some plays when we needed.”
Defensively, the Wolf Pack held the Aggies 210 total yards of offense. Utah State quarterback Jason Shelley passed for 96 yards and one touchdown with a team-high 46 rushing yards. Shelley was replaced by Andrew Peasley in the second half, but he was reinserted into the game by the fourth quarter.
Nevada’s defense bottled up dynamic running back Jaylen Warren to just 29 rushing yards on seven carries. It forced several errant throws and limited Utah State’s offense to 10 punts on the night. Amir Johnson recorded his first career sack with the Wolf Pack.
“I’m really proud of our defense,” Norvell said. “We basically controlled their offense and we’re excellent on third down. We didn’t give up any big plays and managed their offense really well.”
Utah State’s defensive front was active early in the first quarter, collapsing the pocket and forcing a safety to lead 2-0. The Aggies extended their lead to 9-0 following a four-yard touchdown reception by Justin McGriff.
Strong and the Nevada offense responded on the ensuing possession with a 42-yard touchdown to Doubs, cutting its deficit to 9-7 at the end of the first quarter. Strong connected with Doubs on the ensuing drive for a three-yard touchdown to put the Wolf Pack ahead 14-9.
Doubs torched the Utah State secondary once again for a 54-yard touchdown over the middle, putting Nevada up 21-9 at halftime. Nevada continued its offensive onslaught to start the second half, as Taua’s 15-yard score put the Pack up 28-9.
Bradon Talton’s 36-yard field goal built the Wolf Pack’s lead to 31-9 heading into the fourth quarter. His second field goal of the night put Nevada ahead 34-9. Junior quarterback Nate Cox took over for Strong for the remainder of the game and held onto the Wolf Pack’s substantial advantage.
Nevada is in the midst of a successful season and have come out with three statement victories. Norvell and the rest of the Wolf Pack are prepared for the challenges ahead.
“It was a good win,” he said. “Playing three teams that beat us a year ago, I’m really proud of how we responded to start the season… We get a chance to heal up and be ready for New Mexico.”
Up Next: Nevada, 3-0, hits the road to face the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday, Oct. 14. The contest will take place in Las Vegas, Nev. at Sam Boyd Stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions in Albuquerque, N.M.