James Butler raced untouched from five yards out in overtime, lifting Nevada to a 30-27 win over a feisty Cal Poly in the season opener Friday night.
Butler, who finished with 123 yards on 21 carries, opened the game with a burst up the middle for 50 yards, staking Nevada to a 7-0 lead less than three minutes in. The Wolf Pack led 21-7 after a quarter and 24-10 by halftime.
Cal Poly's Dano Graves rushed for two TDs in the fourth quarter, including a plunge from the 1 that forced OT with 1:20 remaining.
Nevada opened the newly renovated Mackay Stadium – which debuted in front of nearly 20,000 fans – with a pair of quick-strike touchdowns. On the Pack’s game-opening drive, Nevada lined up for third-and-1 at midfield. Butler ripped off a 50-yarder, breaking free to the left side all the way to pay dirt.
Cal Poly fumbled on the ensuing drive as Dameon Baber pounced on a botched pitch. Four plays later, Stewart found Wyatt Demps in the corner of the end zone and Demps made a stunning one-handed catch for the score.
Cal Poly answered two drives later to cut it to 14-7 but Nevada tacked on one other score before the first quarter was up as Stewart hit Jerico Richardson from nine yards out to make it 21-7.
The teams traded field goals in the second quarter and went into the break with Nevada leading 24-10.
The second half saw the triple-option Mustangs seize control of the ball and the momentum. Cal Poly ran nearly 50 plays in the second half while Nevada ran just 21 in the final 30 minutes and overtime. The Mustangs used the possession to crawl back into the game, scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns – the last one with 1:20 left – to tie the game at 24.
In the extra frame, Nevada’s defense stepped up, notching a pair of one-yard losses to force Cal Poly into third-and-long. The Mustangs settled for a 37-field goal.
Stewart hit Richardson for a 12-yard gain to open Nevada’s possession. Three plays later, Butler punched it in for the game-winner.
How It Happened: Nevada built a 21-7 lead early, only to see Cal Poly claw back into it and force overtime. James Butler scored on Nevada’s fourth play of overtime for the game-winner.
Play of the Game: Wyatt Demps made a remarkable one-handed catch for his first career touchdown in the first quarter.
Player of the Game: James Butler. The junior running back gained 123 yards on 21 carries, ripping a 50-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and then winning it with a five-yard score in overtime.