Nevada football squeaked away with a 19-13 win over Weber State on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Mackay Stadium.
Nevada had three turnovers but finished minus-two in the turnover margin. Four field goals from Brandon Talton’s golden boot propelled Nevada to victory.
Talton was 4-4 on field goal attempts, with a long of 36 yards. This is the most successful field goals by a Nevada kicker since Brett Jaekle hit four against Texas Tech on Sept. 6, 2008. The freshman placekicker is now a perfect 8-8 on the year.
Nevada tallied a season-high 25 first downs, totaling 453 yards of total offense and held the ball for over 60 percent of the game. The Pack’s offense converted routinely on third down, going 11-20 for a season-high 55 percent on third.
Redshirt freshman Carson Strong completed 30-44 passes for a career-high 299 yards with two interceptions. Weber State’s stout defensive line gave Strong troubles inside the pocket, sacking him four times. 2018 All-Big Sky defensive end Jonah Williams recorded three of the four Wildcat sacks. The 6-foot-5 senior had not recorded a sack since the 2017 season prior to the start of the game.
Toa Taua and Jaxson Kincaide led the Nevada rushing attack. Taua rushed for 85 yards on 16 carries, and Kincaide rushed for 75 yards on 11 carries and a score. Out of the backfield, Kincaide showed he was true scatback, showcasing as a swiss army knife for the offense. The senior tied a career-high, which he set on Sept. 30, 2017, hauling in five receptions for 51 yards.
“Jaxson has run the ball hard,” Nevada head coach Jay Norvell said. “Toa was not 100 percent tonight. Jaxson’s runs were really important.”
“I just tried to do my job, and I still feel like I left yards on the field,” Kincaide said.
Nevada moves to 2-1 on the season. Weber State, who entered the game No. 6 in the FCS rankings fall to 1-2 on the season—they’re now 0-2 versus FBS opponents on the season.
Weber State backup quarterback Kaden Jenks—taking over for starting quarterback Jake Constantine with a knee injury—struggled in his first start of the season. Jenks completed just 28 percent of his passes for 57 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The 63 yards passing allowed by Nevada’s defense was the lowest since Oct. 20 against Air Force.
“We played real good pass defense,” Norvell said. “Just guys playing their responsibilities, getting used to being out there, seeing their keys. I think that was an improvement.”
Coming off a 100-yard performance versus Cal Poly, reigning FCS freshman of the year, running back Josh Davis, was held to 36 yards on ten touches.
The Wildcats were only able to notch 137 total yards. Nevada’s front seven—led by Lucas Weber, Gabe Sewell and Dom Peterson—invaded the backfield all evening, totaling one sack and 10 tackles-for-loss.
Talton’s first field goal came after a 10-play, 56-yard drive to open the game. Nevada’s ensuing drive resulted in Strong’s third interception on the season, but the Wildcats were unable to capitalize.
Weber State’s Trey Tuttle hit a 43-yard field goal to tie the game at three apiece with 13:56 remaining in the second quarter. They were quickly gifted with prime field position after a blocked punt, resulting in Jenks’ 11-yard toss to Shaheed in the back of the endzone.
Two more field goals from Talton late in the second quarter cut Weber State’s lead to 10-9 heading into halftime.
Nevada’s second possession of the second half resulted in a 33-yard score from Kincaide, the longest touchdown run of his career.
After being gifted prime field position, Tuttle nailed a season-long 47-yard field goal which cut Nevada’s lead to 16-13 with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Talton nailed his final field goal, this time from 34-yards out, to stretch the Pack’s lead to 19-13 with 4:49 left in the fourth quarter. Weber State only gained 17 yards on their ensuing drive, giving the ball back to the Nevada offense with 3:27 remaining with all three timeouts.
Offensive coordinator Matt Mumme continued to pound the football and milking the clock. Toa Taua delivered the final blow on a crucial 3rd-and-9, forcing Weber State head coach Jay Hill to burn his remaining timeouts.
“I was proud of the way we handled the end of the game,” Norvell said. “Air raid teams don’t get to run the ball with three tight ends in the game very often. I know Matt Mumme’s probably not going to feel very comfortable about that, but I think that was important for us to run the ball at the end of the game and run the clock out.”
Matt Hanifan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.