The Nevada Wolf Pack traveled to Fresno, California, to take on the No. 25 Fresno State University Bulldogs on September 30, losing 27-9 after being shut out for the first three quarters.
The game began with promise for the Wolf Pack as they led a 9:14 opening drive. Brendon Lewis, Nevada quarterback, orchestrated the passing game effectively, connecting with Spencer Curtis and Jamaal Bell, Nevada wide receivers, for first downs. Lewis himself contributed with some solid rushes, advancing the Pack to the Bulldog 28-yard line. Unfortunately, penalties and sacks disrupted their momentum, leading to a punt from the Bulldog 46-yard line.
Fresno State’s offense, on the other hand, started the game with a bang. Mikey Keene, Fresno State quarterback, connected with Jaelen Gill, wide receiver, for a 65-yard touchdown pass, evading defenders and giving the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The second quarter saw Nevada’s defense stepping up, forcing a turnover on downs and Emany Johnson, Nevada cornerback, intercepting Keene at midfield. However, the Wolf Pack’s offense couldn’t capitalize on these opportunities, experiencing back-to-back three-and-outs due to penalties and missed open receivers.
As Nevada’s offensive struggles continued, AJ Bianco, quarterback, was brought in to create a spark, but his initial drive also ended in a three-and-out.
The Nevada defense was swiftly brought back onto the field, where a missed tackle on Malik Sherrod, Fresno State running back, resulted in a bruising 72-yard touchdown run, increasing Fresno State’s lead to 14-0.
The Wolf Pack was desperate for any offensive success and seemed to have found it when Bell returned a kickoff for an 80-yard return touchdown. However, this was nullified by a holding penalty. Bianco led a drive that ultimately stalled at midfield, leaving Nevada down 14-0 at the half.
The second half started optimistically. Johnson intercepted Keene for a second time, granting the Nevada offense another chance. Lewis returned as quarterback for the second half, but the offense struggled to find its rhythm, resulting in yet another three-and-out following a third-down sack.
Keene led the Bulldogs down the field, highlighted by an 18-yard reception from Gill. The drive concluded at the Nevada 30-yard line, where Fresno State added a 48-yard field goal, extending their lead to 17-0.
Fresno State continued to extend their lead with another field goal after Nevada’s third consecutive three-and-out, bringing the score to 20-0.
With mounting pressure on the offense, the Pack attempted to rally with Lewis carrying the load, including a 17-yard run that brought them just shy of midfield. However, back-to-back holding penalties and a sack on Lewis forced the offense into a rough 4th and 25 situation, leading them to punt.
In the fourth quarter, the Nevada defense struggled against big plays as Keene consistently moved the chains through the air. Sherrod followed it up with a 27-yard run, setting up Fresno State at the Nevada 12-yard line. Keene then found Gill for a 12-yard touchdown pass, widening the lead to 27-0 with 12:37 left in the fourth.
The Wolf Pack’s offense, still searching for their first points of the game, had another setback as Lewis was intercepted at the Nevada 31-yard line. However, Fresno State failed to convert Nevada’s mistake into points, missing a field goal and returning possession to the Pack.
Lewis had another opportunity with 9:42 remaining, leading the Pack to the Fresno State 40-yard line, but he was intercepted again on a desperate throw to the end zone. Fresno State regained possession at their own 2-yard line.
Finally, the Pack caught a break when they managed to tackle the Bulldogs in their own end zone for a safety. Nevada avoided a shutout, but they still trailed 27-2 with 8:37 left.
After regaining possession following the safety, the Pack had a chance to score again, any momentum was halted when Lewis fumbled on a third down.
With possession once more, Fresno State ran the ball on each play to drain the clock, and they punted with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter.
In back-to-back weeks, Nevada managed to score a late touchdown with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter. Bianco connected with Curtis on 3 occasions for 52 yards, culminating in a 22-yard receiving touchdown. But it was too late, and the Pack fell to the Bulldogs 27-9.
With this loss, the Nevada Wolf Pack dropped to 0-5 on the season, extending their losing streak to 15 games. The Wolf Pack’s next challenge will be at home on Oct. 14th, where they will face the UNLV Rebels in the battle for the Fremont Cannon at 2:00 pm.
James Wolfgang Perez can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @RaridonDerek