Nevada Tops Arkansas State in Overtime Thriller at Arizona Bowl
[NEVADA RELEASE - AP WRITER]
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Reagan Roberson bulldozed through one tackler and dove into the end zone on an 11-yard catch-and-run in overtime, lifting Nevada over Arkansas State 16-13 in the Arizona Bowl on Saturday.
Nevada (8-5) labored against Arkansas State's defensive front all game before coming to life late, going up 10-7 on Devonte Lee's 1-yard touchdown run with 1:06 left.
Arkansas State (8-5) racked up 499 yards, but was 1 for 5 in the red zone with two turnovers before marching quickly down the field at the end of regulation. Blake Grupe, who had one field goal blocked and badly missed on another, drilled a 32-yarder to tie it on the final play.
Grupe opened overtime with a 24-yard field goal, but Roberson bulled his way into the end zone to send the Wolf Pack rushing onto the field.
Nevada's Ty Gangi had 200 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-34 passing with two interceptions.
Arkansas State's Justice Hansen threw for 275 yards, but also had three interceptions — two in the end zone — after throwing six during the regular season. Warren Wand ran for 140 yards for the Red Wolves.
Nevada and Arkansas State came to the desert known for their prolific quarterbacks and high-scoring ways. Neither showed up in a stuck-in-the-mud first half.
Both quarterbacks airmailed receivers multiple times, including one by Hansen that was intercepted at the Wolf Pack 20.
Gangi opened 1 for 6 and hit a few passes after that, setting up Ramiz Ahmed's 36-yard field goal. Nevada had 72 total yards at halftime, yet only trailed 7-3.
Hansen was a bit more effective despite the pick, setting up the Red Wolves for three scoring chances. They converted one: Marcel Murray's 2-yard TD run.
The earlier field goal fiascos seemed to have an impact on play calling the opening drive the second half. Instead of attempting a field at fourth-and-goal from the 4, the Red Wolves tried a trick play. The Wolf Pack sniffed it out and stuffed offensive lineman Lanard Bonner after he caught a back pass from Hansen.
Arkansas State again had the ball inside Nevada's 10 the next series after an interception, but the Wolf Pack intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone.
Next two series, same thing: Arkansas State interception, Nevada interception in the end zone.
Postgame notes – Arkansas State
-Nevada finishes the season 8-5 overall, it's best record since it finished 13-1 in 2010. This was the sixth bowl victory in Nevada history. Nevada's eight victories are the most since joining the Mountain West Conference.
-Quarterback Ty Gangi extended his streak to 27-consecutive games with a touchdown pass in his career, after finding Reagan Roberson in overtime for the game-winning score. It was Roberson's first-career touchdown at Nevada and fourth-career catch.
-Following his bowl victory, Gangi ranks eighth all-time in passing yards (7,378), seventh all-time in passing yards in a season (3,331), tied for eighth in passing touchdowns (57) and tied for sixth for touchdown passes in a season (26) at Nevada. His 18 completions in the contest tied him for the eighth-most in bowl history.
-Nevada recorded 10 tackles for loss, good for the second-most in Nevada's bowl history.
-The Wolf Pack defense only surrendered 13 points in the contest, tied for the least ever given up in a bowl game with the 2010 team in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in Jan. 2011.
-Ben Putman hauled in four receptions for a team-high 114 yards, including a 44-yard reception for the longest offensive play of the game and the fifth-longest in Nevada bowl history. Those 114 yards are the seventh-most in Nevada bowl history by a single receiver. He recorded his first-career catch in the second quarter for a gain of 21 yards.
-The Wolf Pack's three sacks rank tied for the fourth-most in its bowl history.
-Nevada's three interceptions are the most in its bowl history.
-Justin Brent recorded his first-career interception in the first quarter against Arkansas State, and his second-career pick in the endzone in the fourth quarter. He is the first athlete in Nevada history to record multiple interceptions in a single bowl game.
-The Wolf Pack's contest today was its third bowl game to go to overtime and first since the 2005 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl where Nevada defeated UCF 49-48.
-This is the first game under head coach Jay Norvell that has gone to overtime. He is now 1-0 in such contests.
-This was the first overtime game and victory for Nevada since defeating Cal Poly 30-27 in 2016.
-Safety Asauni Rufus finished his career third all-time in tackles at Nevada with 340 in his career.
-Safety Dameon Baber recorded six tackles on the afternoon, putting him at ninth all-time in Nevada history with 293.
-After not recording any tackles for loss during the regular season, Baber finished with two in the first half, which set a career-high. His two TFLs rank tied for sixth in Nevada bowl history.
-Freshman Devonte Lee scored the only touchdown of the game in regulation for Nevada in the fourth quarter with under two minutes remaining to put the Wolf Pack ahead 10-7.
-With 22 carries on the afternoon, Nevada finishes the season with a 7-1 record when running back Toa Taua carries the ball 12 or more times. Those 22 attempts rank tied for fifth with brother Vai Taua for the most carries in a bowl game in Nevada history.
-In the first quarter, Dom Peterson and Sam Hammond combined for a sack that forced the drive to end with a field goal attempt that was no good.
-Dom Peterson's 2.5 tackles for loss put him fifth all-time in Nevada bowl history.
-Nevada's defense held A-State to 89 yards and no points in the first quarter. The Red Wolves were also 0-for-5 on third down and only had five rushing yards after the first 15 minutes.
-Ramiz Ahmed hit a 36-yard field goal with 5:07 remaining in the second quarter to give Nevada a 3-0 lead. It is his fourth-consecutive made field goal and is now 15/16 on field goals under 40 yards in his career.
-Dom Christian caught a ten-yard pass in the second quarter for his first reception of the season and finished with a career-high three catches. His final catch came on fourth down on the Pack's final offensive drive of regulation.
-Jomon Dotson recorded his second interception of the season in the third quarter in the endzone.
-Punter Quinton Conaway launched a 69-yard punt in the second quarter, the second-longest of his career and the longest in Nevada bowl history. He finished his day with nine punts for 403 yards, averaging 44.8 per punt. He pinned one inside the 20-yard line.
-Lucas Weber recorded his 6.5th sack of the season in the fourth quarter.
-The 32,368 fans in attendance were the fourth-most at a Nevada bowl game.
-The all-time series between Nevada and Arkansas State is now 4-2, in favor of the Wolf Pack.