The Nevada Wolf Pack defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs, 30-16, on Thursday night in Fresno on the strength of some big plays on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball which is something the Wolf Pack have been lacking this season.
The big plays started for Nevada early in the game when in the first quarter, Wolf Pack defensive end Ian Seau strip-sacked Bulldogs quarterback Kilton Anderson and Matthew Lyons recovered the ball and went 30 yards for the touchdown and after the extra point, the Wolf Pack led 7-0. After Fresno State kicked a field goal to get on the scoreboard, the Wolf Pack answered back with their longest play of the season which was a 73 yard touchdown pass from Tyler Stewart to Hassan Henderson to give the Wolf Pack a 14-3 lead.
Fresno State's last two offensive possessions in the first half were very successful as the Bulldogs scored on a 24 yard Kilton Anderson touchdown run that cut the Wolf Pack lead to 14-10. After a Brett Zuzo field goal, Fresno State marched the ball down the field and scored on a two yard touchdown pass from Kilton Anderson to Josiah Blandin but the extra point was missed and the Wolf Pack went into the locker rooms up 17-16.
In the second half, the Wolf Pack took over the game as they out-gained Fresno State 150 to 8 yards but at the end of the third quarter, only had two Brett Zuzo field goals to show for it as they lead 23-16. In the fourth quarter, Wolf Pack running back James Butler broke the game open as he ran over the right side of the Nevada offensive line, broke a tackle and ran 59 yards for the touchdown to give the Wolf Pack the 30-16 lead. Then, it was the Wolf Pack defense led by true freshman safety Dameon Baber that put the finishing touches on Fresno State as he picked off three passes in the fourth quarter to close it out for the Wolf Pack.
Nevada quarterback Tyler Stewart had a outstanding performance going 12 for 17 for 206 yards and one touchdown pass while both Don Jackson and James Butler went over 100 yards rushing as Jackson ran for 140 yards and Butler went for 122 yards and ran for a touchdown.
Hassan Henderson caught five passes for 136 yards and hauled in a touchdown pass. On defense, Baber's three interceptions gives him a total of six interceptions for the year and now leads all FBS freshman players in interceptions. Baber's is the first Wolf Pack player since 1974 to intercept three passes in a game. The last Wolf Pack player to do this was Greg Grouwinkel as he picked off four passes against Portland State.
With the win, the Wolf Pack improve to 5-4 overall and 3-2 in the Mountain West and marks the first time Nevada has won back to back games since October 25th and November 1st of 2014. Next week, the Wolf Pack will host San Jose State as they are one win away from bowl eligibility and it won't be easy as they face Spartan running back Tyler Ervin. Can the Wolf Pack keep the big play momentum through next Saturday? We will find out next Saturday in Reno.