It was a little déjà vu all over again last night in San Diego. The Aztecs won ugly again against Nevada 51-44 in OT at Qaulcomm Stadium, a nationally televised game on ESPN. The Aztec defense finally stepped up when JJ Whittaker made perhaps the biggest play in his Aztce career when he broke up a fourth-and-11 pass from Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo that was meant for Brandon Wimberly in the end zone sealing an Aztec win and their first conference victory for 2013.
This game was full of ebbs and flows, with the Aztecs scoring first on a 72-yard sprint from Donnel Pumphery. But the score flip-flopped in the first half until the Aztecs went on to score 15 straight of the strangest points in the last two minutes of the first half, highlighted by a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Nevada coach Brian Polian, a fumbled snap on fourth down, a punt kicked out of the end zone the wrong way, and a last-second TD throw to Dylan Denso.
The Aztecs dominated the game until the fourth quarter when they lead 44-23 with both offense and defense playing flawless. The Aztecs defense forced two Cody Fajardio fumbles and capitalized on them with scores on a speed sweep from Tim Vizzi, followed by an 8 yard run by Adam Muema and a touchdown catch by redshirt freshman Eric Judge, playing for injured Colin Lockett.
The Aztecs should have sealed the victory after a 51 yard Adam Muema run but, Aztec kicker, Wes Feer missed his second FG attempt of the year and the Wolfpack went on a 21-0 scoring run, tying the game 44-44 at with seconds left.
Cody Fajardo put the Wolf Pack offense on his back and they finally found their rhythm in the fourth quarter to score three unanswered touchdowns to play themselves back into the game.
"You've got to give them credit because they did a great job coming back," Long said. "Their quarterback, I thought we had him sacked four or five times, and he outran the contained guy and got yardage with his feet or found a guy that was open and threw it.
"We didn't hit him very much, but we were in his face a lot, so he wasn't as comfortable as he normally is," Long said. "But he still threw for a whole bunch of yards and he threw touchdown pass and had a real high percentage completion rate."
Farjardo passed for 167 yards in the fourth quarter alone and 387 yards in total. Despite the meltdown the Aztec defense stood tall in OT when it mattered. Everyone contributed; both Meuma and Pumphery ran for over 100 yards. Quinn Kaehler threw for 286 yards completing 72% of his throws, with his biggest of the year going to Eric Judge for the victory in OT.
The Aztec play their third game in 13 days against Air Force on Thursday night at Falcon Stadium. Air Force is 1-5 overall this season losing today against Navy 28-10.