The Wolf Pack took on Air Force on Nov. 19 in a losing effort, falling to the Falcons 41-39 in an overtime thriller.
Nevada came out with a mixed performance in the first quarter. After being held to a three and out in their first offensive drive, the offense was able to march down the field thanks to consecutive 27 and 15 yard pass plays from quarterback Carson Strong. However, Nevada was held to only a field goal due to being stalled in the red zone. Despite allowing 98 rushing yards, the defense was able to hold off the Falcons’ push, stopping the Falcons from reaching the end zone thanks to an early fumble recovered by defensive back Daiyan Henley. Nevada was up 3-0 after the first quarter.
The second quarter was disastrous for the Pack. Although the offense did start the quarter off strong, even seeing Strong rush for a first down, the Wolf Pack was held from gaining any points in the quarter thanks to an interception and four team sacks by Air Force. On top of the offensive struggles, Nevada’s defense began to stall out. Air Force was able to gain 143 more rushing yards as well as score two touchdowns and one field goal thanks to their run game. At the end of the half, Nevada trailed 17-3.
Nevada began to heat up in the third quarter. On the offensive side of the ball, the Wolf Pack began to play like games past. Thanks to another set of consecutive passing plays from Strong, the Pack scored their first touchdown of the game. The defense also began to heat up as well, stopping the Falcons from converting a fourth down for the first time in their first second half drive. However, Air Force continued their work from the first half, gaining 110 more rushing yards and scoring another touchdown. Going into the final 12 minutes, the Wolf Pack trailed 24-10.
The Wolf Pack was firing on all cylinders in the fourth quarter. The offense started off slow, having to punt after allowing two more sacks and a turnover on downs. However, on Air Force’s next play, defensive back AJ King forced a fumble that defensive back Jordan Lee recovered. This would prove to be the catalyst for Nevada, as Strong would throw a 61 yard touchdown to (player) on the next play. After another defensive stop, the Wolf Pack would score another touchdown to even the game after another string of Strong pass plays and a 20 yard run from running back Toa Taua. This, with another defensive stop, allowed Nevada to push the game to overtime for the first time this year.
In the first overtime period, both teams were able to score touchdowns, both coming from each team’s run game. In the second OT period, where teams are forced to go for a two point conversion if they score a touchdown, both teams were able to score touchdowns and converted their two point conversions, pushing the game another period.
From the third period forward, each team had one play to convert a two point conversion, whoever scored and stopped their opponent from scoring would win. In the third overtime period. Air Force was able to convert on their possession and stop Nevada from converting theirs, putting an end to the Wolf Pack’s dream of going undefeated at Mackey stadium.
Overlooking the loss, Nevada did have something else looming in the background. With his 356 passing yards, Strong overtook Nevada alumni Mike Williams in the school’s record book for most passing yards in a single season, taking second place. In order to beat the school record held by alumni Chris Vergas, Strong will have to throw for a combined 363 yards in the program’s final regular season game and potential bowl game.
Nevada’s next game will be on Saturday, Nov 27, where the Wolf Pack will take on conference rival Colorado State on the road.
Derek Raridon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush