The Nevada Wolf Pack defeated the Colorado State Rams 28-23 in the inaugural Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Tuesday night. It was a gritty, grinded out performance by the Wolf Pack as they leaned on an explosive rushing attack and a solid defensive performance to give them their first bowl victory since defeating Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl back in 2010.
Nevada running back James Butler was named offensive MVP of the Arizona Bowl as he ran for 189 yards and scored two touchdowns while Wolf Pack defensive end Ian Seau was named defensive MVP as he recorded five tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, a pass break up and forced a fumble tonight in Seau's final game as a member of the Wolf Pack.
Seau got the action started in the first quarter of the game when he sacked Rams quarterback Nick Stevens causing him to fumble the ball which was recovered by Wolf Pack defensive end Rykeem Aytes and ten plays later, Nevada capitalized on that turnover when Brett Zuso kicked a 19-yard field to give the Wolf Pack a 3-0 lead.
The Rams took the lead in the second quarter when Stevens scored on a one-yard touchdown run and after the extra point, Colorado State took a 7-6 lead. After the score, the Wolf Pack answered back quickly when James Butler scored on a 77-yard touchdown run to give Nevada a 13-7 lead.
After the Rams scored on a Wyatt Brown field goal to make it 13-10 Nevada, the Rams kicked the ball off to the Wolf Pack's Elijah Mitchell and he took it 96 yards for the touchdown to give the Wolf Pack a 19-10 lead after Zuso missed the PAT. The Rams were able to tack on another field goal before the half to cut the Nevada lead to 19-13.
In the second half with Nevada up 22-13, Colorado State went on a 12 play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a nine-yard touchdown run by Jasen Oden Jr., to cut the Wolf Pack lead to 22-20. In the fourth quarter, the Rams took the lead when Brown connected on a 38-yard field to give Colorado State a 23-22 lead.
Nevada got the ball back with 3:40 left in the game and scored on an eight play, 72-yard drive that was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by James Butler as the Wolf Pack retook the lead 28-23.
The Rams had one final chance to retake the lead late in the game and despite having no timeouts, the Rams were able to orchestrated a quick hitting drive that got them in scoring range. But in the final seconds of the game, Stevens connected with Jordon Vaden but he decided to cut up field and not go out of bounds for one final play.
With the bowl win, Nevada ends their up and down season on a high note by going 7-6 and gained some much needed momentum headed into the offseason as Brian Polian and his Wolf Pack look to improve on their consistency and hopefully become a factor in the Mountain West in 2016.