Nevada Becomes Bowl Eligible after Beating SJSU in OT
– Junior TE Jarred Gipson caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from junior QB Tyler Stewart in overtime, clinching a comeback victory for the Wolf Pack (6-4, 4-2) over San José State on Saturday at Mackay Stadium. Nevada erased an 11-point deficit and tallied a 37-34 overtime victory against the Spartans (4-6, 3-3) in a thriller on senior day.
With its sixth victory of the season, the Wolf Pack reached bowl eligibility for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons. Nevada needed grit, determination and a little bit of magic to do so. The Wolf Pack marched 75 yards in 13 plays to tie the game with 36 seconds remaining, blocked a potential game-winning field goal as time expired in regulation and scored a game-winning touchdown in the first overtime period to win a nail-biter.
Stewart matched a career-high with three touchdown passes – to three different receivers – while sophomore James Butler rushed for 100 yards for the fourth-consecutive game. Senior DE Lenny Jones posted seven tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss to lead the defense.
How It Happened: The Pack started strong, forcing a 3-and-out before scoring on its first offensive drive as Stewart hit junior WR Jerico Richardson for a five-yard touchdown. Nevada took a 10-0 lead at 7:54 in the second quarter as junior PK Brent Zuzo nailed a 27-yard field goal.
The Spartans then scored three straight touchdowns, taking a 21-10 lead with 11:55 remaining in the third quarter. Butler put momentum on the Pack’s side with a 58-yard touchdown rush on Nevada’s next possession. Nevada then took a lead, 24-21, with 14:54 in the fourth quarter as junior WR Hasaan Henderson hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass to cap a six-minute drive.
San José State then scored 10 straight points, taking a 31-24 lead with 2:49 left in the game. The Pack marched 75 yards in 13 plays and converted two fourth down conversions, tying the game with 36 seconds remaining on senior RB Don Jackson’s two-yard touchdown rush. The Spartans quickly drove 41 yards to Nevada’s 34-yard line with six seconds remaining. Redshirt freshman CB Ahki Muhammad blocked a potential game-winning, 51-yard field goal to force overtime.
Nevada won the coin toss in its 11th all-time overtime game and elected to play defense first. Jones came up with a stop on third down to limit San José State to a 35-yard field goal as the Spartans took a 34-31 lead. Next, Butler rushed for two yards and Henderson caught a 12-yard pass down to the Spartan 11-yard line. On 1st-and-10, Stewart hit Gipson for the game-winning, 11-yard touchdown pass as Nevada won 37-34 in overtime.
Player of the Game: Tyler Stewart’s statistics might not have been too flashy, but his poise and perseverance was undoubted as the junior gunslinger led the Wolf Pack to a comeback victory. Stewart completed 16-of-26 passes for 174 yards while matching a career-high with three touchdown passes. Stewart engineered a 75-yard touchdown drive to tie the game with 36 seconds remaining in regulation before throwing the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime.
Senior DE Lenny Jones also shined on senior day, posting seven tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and one pass breakup. Jones’ biggest play was a tackle in overtime on third down, forcing the Spartans to settle for a field goal before Nevada won with a touchdown. In addition to his play on the field, Jones’ leadership on the sideline was also key to Nevada’s comeback victory.
Play of the Game: After the Spartans took a 31-24 lead late in the fourth quarter, Nevada needed to march 75 yards in 2:49 to tie the game. The Wolf Pack did exactly that, converting a pair of fourth down conversions while driving 75 yards in 13 plays and 2:13 to tie the game with 36 seconds remaining. The key play to that drive – and perhaps the game – came on 4th-and-3 at the Spartan 43-yard line with under a minute remaining. Stewart dropped back to pass before San José State covered each receiver and flushed Stewart from the pocket. Stewart rolled all the way to the right before changing directions nearly 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Stewart then raced all the way to the left sideline, stepping over the first down pylon to keep the drive alive – rushing nearly 20 yards in total for a four-yard gain.
An equally important play took place just over 30 seconds later after the Spartans drove 41 yards in five plays to Nevada’s 34-yard line. San José State’s senior PK Austin Lopez lined up for a 51-yard field goal with six seconds remaining. Redshirt freshman CB Ahki Muhammed rushed over the edge and blocked Lopez’s kick, forcing overtime as time expired on the block.
What it Means: The Wolf Pack is going bowling! With the victory, Nevada reaches bowl eligibility for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons. In addition to notching an all-important sixth victory of the season, Nevada showed heart and determination to claw back from a 21-10 deficit. In a back-and-forth, nail-biter of a game, the Wolf Pack will take loads of confidence after coming out on top.
Up Next: Nevada will now close its season with consecutive road games. Next, the Wolf Pack travels to Logan, Utah to meet Utah State (5-5, 4-3) on Saturday, Nov. 21. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. PT on ESPN3 from Maverik Stadium. Nevada closes the regular season at San Diego State on Nov. 28.
Nevada Press Release