On Tuesday’s press conference in Reno, Nevada head coach Brian Polian warned that Wyoming looked a lot better on film than its 0-6 record would indicate. The Cowboys proved that statement to be correct Saturday, handing Nevada a 28-21 setback at War Memorial Stadium for its first win of the season.
The Wolf Pack scored 14 unanswered points in the second half but couldn’t overcome a slow start in a disappointing loss in Laramie. Nevada falls to 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in Mountain West play.
How It Happened: Senior RB Don Jackson scored on a seven-yard rush to tie the game, 7-7, with 6:10 left in the second quarter. Wyoming stormed back with two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the half to seize momentum and lead, 21-7, at halftime. The Cowboys scored in the first drive of the second half and led, 28-7, with 11:21 left in the third quarter.
The Wolf Pack defense dialed it in from that point on, holding Wyoming off the scoreboard in the game’s final 26 minutes to allow for a comeback attempt. Nevada mounted its charge late in the third quarter, using an eight-play, 79-yard scoring drive. Junior QB Tyler Stewart hit junior TE Jarred Gipson for a 12-yard touchdown pass, making it 28-14 with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.
Nevada pulled within one score in the fourth quarter with another methodical drive, scoring in nine plays and 80 yards. Stewart tosses his second touchdown pass of the game – this time a seven-yard pass to junior WR Jerico Richardson – to make it 28-21 with 6:36 left in the game.
The Pack defense forced a punt on 4th-and-2 at the 36-yard line, but a 50-yard punt gave Nevada an uphill challenge. The Wolf Pack’s drive started on its own 14-yard line with 3:19 left in the game. Stewart completed three passes for 39 yards and ran once for 11 yards to march to Wyoming’s 36-yard line. On 4th-and-5 with under two minutes to play, the Cowboy defense brought pressure and brought Stewart down with a sack to clinch the victory.
Player of the Game: Stewart and the Wolf Pack offense started slow, but when Nevada trailed and needed to go to the air, Stewart delivered. He finished 25-of-41 for 287 yards and two touchdowns, setting career-high totals in receptions and passing yards. Stewart’s strong second half gave Nevada a shot at the comeback, but ultimately it was a case of too few, too late for the Pack.
Play of the Game: Facing a 21-point deficit, the Wolf Pack showed some grit in the second half to mount a rally. Nevada’s comeback attempt was kick started by Gipson’s 12-yard touchdown reception with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. Gipson beat man coverage to snag Stewart’s pass on a short out-route before cutting upfield and running uncontested into the end zone.
What it Means: Nevada finds itself right back where it was two weeks ago. The Wolf Pack faced considerable adversity after its loss to rivals UNLV on Oct. 3. Nevada responded with a big victory against New Mexico to take a step forward, but with its loss today to Wyoming, the Pack took a step backwards. Nevada will again face the task of blocking out noise surrounding the team and handling adversity after a tough loss.
Up Next: The Wolf Pack returns to Mackay Stadium for its homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 24 against Hawaii’i. Kickoff between the Pack and Rainbow Warriors (2-4, 0-2) is set for 1 p.m. PT in Reno. The game will be streamed digitally by the Mountain West Network, powered by Campus Insiders.
Nevada Press Release