It looked dismal for Nevada after Hawaii quarterback Max Wittek connected with Devan Stubblefield for a second touchdown pass of the game to give the Warriors a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. The Wolf Pack, already coming off a loss last week to previously win-less Wyoming, looked like they had not recovered from that game and in that moment, their season looked lost. But the team fought back and played one of their best games of the season as they relied on their defense and the running of James Butler (28 carries, 134 yards, two touchdowns) to come from behind to defeat Hawaii 30-20 to improve to 4-4 on the season.
The comeback began on the following Wolf Pack possession when Butler scored on a one-yard touchdown run which capped off a nine play, 52-yard drive to put Nevada on the board 17-7. After the score, Hawaii was flagged for two personal fouls which led to Nevada kicking off from the Hawaii 35-yard line. Nevada attempted and recovered the onside kick and the Wolf Pack was able to score after the recovery with a Brent Zuzo field goal four plays later to cut the Warrior lead to 17-10 at the half.
In the third quarter after both teams exchanged punts, Nevada got the ball and went on a nine play, 60-yard drive that put them in the red zone but the drive stalled and the Wolf Pack had to settle for a Zuzo field goal to make it a 17-13 Hawaii lead. The Warriors responded with a long drive of their own that put them in the red zone but Ian Seau (four sacks, one forced fumble, and once fumble recovery) sacked Wittek on third down and forced Hawaii to settle for Rigoberto Sanchez field goal to extend the Warriors lead to 20-13.
Early in the fourth quarter, after Wolf Pack quarterback Tyler Stewart (12/23, 128 yards, one touchdown, one interception) connected with junior wide receiver Hassan Henderson (three catches, 44 yards) for a 21-yard pass completion on 3rd and 11, Stewart hit tight end Jared Gipson (five catches, 57 yards, one touchdown) on a five-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 20. From there, it was the Wolf Pack defense who was already playing great defense for two and a half quarters got some key turnovers. On Hawaii's next possession, Max Wittek's pass was overthrown and intercepted by Wolf Pack safety Asauni Rufus and seven plays later, Zuzo kicked his third field goal of the day to give Nevada a 23-20 lead. After a Nevada punt, Hawaii got the ball with five minutes left in the game but three plays into their drive, Wittek threw another interception this time to Jordan Dobrich and Nevada scored four plays later on a James Butler's second one-yard touchdown run of the day which gave Nevada a 30-20 lead.
Hawaii did have a chance to cut into the lead late in the game and had the ball at the Nevada 17-yard line late in the game when Ian Seau strip sacked Wittek and recovered the ball which sealed the win for Nevada. This was a big win for Nevada as they could have packed it in after being down 17 to Hawaii but they played tough defense and leaned on their running game in order for them to come from behind and secure the win. The Wolf Pack have a bye next week and after that, have four games left in the season. They maybe a long shot to win the Western Division of the Mountain West but bowl eligibility is possible if they continue to play like they did today.