Nevada played possibly their best game of the season against Colorado State in the regular season finale. The Wolf Pack improved to 8-4 ahead of bowl season.
The big story of this game was junior quarterback Carson Strong and his journey towards making Wolf Pack history. Strong had a flawless game as he completed 17 of 22 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Strong finished with an incredible QBR of 92.7, and he did not play in the fourth quarter. Strong broke the Nevada touchdown record as he now has 36 touchdowns on the season, which gives him the number one spot. He passed Chris Vargas’ record of 34 touchdowns in 1993. Strong is second on the single season passing yards list with 4,175 yards this season. He is 90 yards behind the record of 4,265 passing yards held by former Wolf Pack quarterback Chris Vargas. Finally, Strong is third in all time passing yards. Strong, who has had a three year career, has passed for 9,368 yards which puts him behind quarterbacks David Neill and Colin Kaepernick.
Sophomore wide receiver Tory Horton and senior wide receiver Romeo Doubs both had monster games. Horton had four receptions for a team high 113 yards and two touchdowns. The Strong to Doubs connection continues to be one of the best in all of college football. Doubs finished with a team high five receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Melquan Stovall had four receptions for 35 yards and senior running back Toa Taua ended with three receptions for 31 yards.
The Wolf Pack finally found success on the ground. Sophomore running back Avery Morrow led the team in rushing with an unbelievable 88 yards and a touchdown on only five carries. Taua finished with 14 carries for 69 yards, and senior running back Devonte Lee ended with a solid line of seven carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. This was an overall great game for the Nevada running back room. Senior quarterback Nate Cox also got in on the fun as he had a rushing touchdown in the game.
The Nevada defense shined all night with tough defense and big plays. Senior defensive back Jordan Lee had a team high 13 total tackles with eight solos and recovered a fumble. Senior linebacker Daiyan Henley had 11 total tackles with six solos. The Wolf Pack pass rush was effective this game with six sacks. Senior defensive end Sam Hammond and junior defensive end Daniel Grzesiak both had a team high 1.5 sacks. The Nevada secondary made plays throughout the game as well. Senior defensive back Tyson Williams had seven tackles and an interception, and senior defensive back Berdale Robins had three tackles and an interception.
This game got out of hand quickly as Nevada was clicking on both sides of the field. The Wolf Pack put together a five play 75 yard drive on their first drive of the game. Strong found Horton on a 27 yard strike for a touchdown. Nevada took a 7-0 lead early in the first. The Wolf Pack defense forced a turnover on downs on the next drive. The offense took advantage of the field position and wasted no time as Strong connected with Horton again on a 54 yard pass for a touchdown on the first play of the drive. The score was 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Nevada opened up the second quarter with a 3 yard touchdown run by Devonte Lee. This made the score 21-0. Things only got worse for the Rams as Nevada picked off Colorado State on the following drive. Nevada added to their lead, by once again taking advantage of their great field position due to the turnover, when Strong threw an 11 yard touchdown to Doubs. This increased the lead to 28-0 midway through the second quarter. The Nevada defense continued to bottle up the Colorado State offense. The Wolf Pack added two forced fumbles and fumble recoveries late in the second quarter. Nevada capped off their incredible first half with a 30 yard field goal from junior kicker Brandon Talton. The Wolf Pack took an immense 31-0 lead into halftime.
Colorado State responded with a 69 yard touchdown to open up the second half. The score was now 31-7. The Rams forced a Nevada three and out, but all this momentum was shut down when the Wolf Pack intercepted a Colorado State pass at the goal line. Nevada then put together a four play 99 yard drive that ended in a 66 yard bomb from Strong to Doubs. This made the score 38-7, with six minutes left in the third quarter, marking the end of Strong’s impressive night. The Nevada defense continued their dominance over the Rams as they forced them to turn the ball over on downs on back to back drives. The defense then forced another fumble which put the Nevada offense in great field position.
The backup quarterback Nate Cox and running back Morrow kept the offense moving with their legs. Cox followed a 40 yard rush from Morrow with a 15 yard touchdown rush of his own. This made the score 45-7 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Nevada continued their success on the ground on their next drive. The Wolf Pack offense marched 48 yards on four plays as Morrow punched in a one yard touchdown. The score was now 52-7 with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Colorado State responded with a 33 yard field goal to make the score 52-10. This score would hold for the rest of the game as Nevada ran out the clock. The Wolf pack defeated Colorado State 52-10.
The Nevada versus Colorado State game was a great game to end the regular season. Nevada had a mix of impressive wins and heartbreaking losses this year as they lost three conference games by a combined six points. However, Nevada is bowl eligible after going 8-4 and fans everywhere will be waiting to see what bowl Nevada gets on Dec. 5.
Anthony Miranda can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush