The Nevada Football team opened their season on Sept. 2 against the University of Southern California — who houses Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams — in Los Angeles, where they would take their first loss of the year 66-14.
Nevada’s start to the game was a mixed bag. The Wolf Pack secondary could not contain Williams in the first drive, as he completed all three passes for 79 yards and a touchdown to Zachariah Branch, USC wide receiver. However, the team’s offense answered right back. After a five-yard rush from Sean Dollars, Nevada running back, Brendon Lewis, quarterback, found Spencer Curtis, wide receiver, for a 77-yard passing play. Dollars ran the last 7 yards over the next two plays for Nevada’s first touchdown of the game.
For the rest of the quarter, Nevada would be silent while USC got to work. In the remaining two USC drives in the first, Williams would rack up 68 more yards and a touchdown in the ladder of the two drives while Austin Jones and MarShawn Lloyd, USC running backs, ran for a combined 41 yards and a touchdown from Lloyd. On the other side of the ball, Nevada would produce a 3-and-outs on three separate occasions deep in their own territory. After 15 minutes, the Wolf Pack trailed 21-7.
Scoring trends in the second quarter matched the tail end of the first. Despite being able to produce three drives that ended in Trojan territory, Nevada’s offense could not muster a single point. Brandon Talton, Nevada kicker, attempted two field goals in the first and third drives, but came up short in both attempts. And in the second, the Wolf Pack made it to the USC 39-yard line, but would turn the ball over on downs after gaining only one yard.
While the offense continued to stumble, Nevada’s defense wasn’t doing much better. The Pack continued to struggle in containing Williams. The Heisman winner would run for 46 yards in the first play of the quarter and throw for another two touchdowns, making four before halftime. Nevada was able to temporarily slow down the bleeding, however, as they forced USC to punt on the third USC drive and recovered a fumble from a messed up hike on the fourth. Despite the slow down, the Pack trailed 35-7 after one half.
First half woes continued for the Wolf Pack in the third quarter. The offense started out the quarter with a three and out, barely able to conjure up any sort of momentum coming out of the locker room. Nevada’s offense was able to cook up a 12-play drive, but a Lewis fumble at the 40 yard line recovered by Dollars halted any progress the team was trying to make.
All the while, the Wolf Pack defense allowed Williams to get his fifth passing touchdown of the day off a 45-yard pass to Tahj Washington, USC wide receiver. After two plays in the next drive, Williams would come off the field for Miller Moss, USC back-up quarterback. The Pack defense let Moss, with help from Darwin Barlow, USC running back, and Mario Williams, USC wide receiver, get all the way down to the Nevada 13-yard line before the quarter ended. After three quarters, Nevada trailed 42-7.
Troubles from all three previous quarters culminated in the fourth. After the defense held USC to a field goal to start, Lewis would be sacked and fumble the ball, resulting in a fumble-six for the Trojans. AJ Bianco, Nevada back-up quarterback, would come in the next drive, throwing a 77-yard touchdown pass to Jamaal Bell, Wide Receiver, for Nevada’s only other scoring drive. The Wolf Pack would lose control of the game from that point forward.
Nevada’s defense gave up two more touchdowns before the end of the game. One was off a 47-yard run from Quinten Joyner, USC running back, and the other was a passing touchdown from Moss, who found Duce Robinson, tight end, for a 71-yard touchdown. Bianco and the rest of the Wolf Pack offense tried to mount one last effort, but could not get past mid-field before time expired. Nevada would lose 66-14.
After their time in Los Angeles, Nevada moves to 0-1 on the season. Their next game is Sept. 9, where the Pack is slated to play the University of Idaho Vandals in their home opener at 4 p.m.
Derek Raridon can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RaridonDerek.