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Nevada Football: Wolf Pack outlasts Bulldogs in a thriller

The Wolf Pack saw their lead almost disappear but their defense saved the day as they as defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs 27-22.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Nevada Wolf Pack's defense has struggled so far this season and especially in losses to Notre Dame and last week on the road against Hawaii. But the Wolf Pack defense while they did give up 453 yards of total offense tonight, held off the Bulldogs offense late in the game to secure a 27-22 victory against Fresno State tonight.

The win improves the Wolf Pack's record to 3-3 and 1-1 in conference play while the Bulldogs drop to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in conference play. And despite the Wolf Pack giving up that many yards to Fresno State, they did get the defensive stop at the right time in order to hold on for the victory and maybe that propels the defensive to play better as the season goes on for Nevada.

The action started in the first quarter when Fresno State's Kody Kroening connected on a 44-yard field goal to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead early in the game. Nevada responded to the Fresno State score with a little bit of trickery. Nevada scored when quarterback Tyler Stewart (13 for 20, 137 yards and two touchdowns.) tossed the ball to wide receiver Andrew Celis who passed it to wideout Wyatt Demps (nine catches, 137 yards, three touchdowns) for the touchdown to give the Wolf Pack a 7-3 lead.

The Bulldogs tacked on another Kroening field goal to cut Nevada's lead to 7-6 and in the second quarter, the Wolf Pack were threatening to score but were stopped on a 3rd down and attempted a field goal. Brett Zuso's field goal was blocked by Fresno State's Malik Forrester that kept the score at 7-6.

But the Bulldogs could not capitalize on the good fortune as they turned the ball on a fumbled that the Wolf Pack's Alex Bertrando recovered for Nevada. The Wolf Pack were able to capitalize on Fresno State's turnover when Tyler Stewart scored on a four-yard touchdown run to give the Wolf Pack a 14-6 lead. After a Fresno State punt on their next possession, the Wolf Pack's two-minute offense worked out well as they capped off their final drive of the half with a three-yard touchdown pass from Stewart to Demps to give the Wolf Pack a 21-6 lead at the half.

The Bulldogs came back in the second half when they cut Nevada's lead to 21-13 when Bulldogs quarterback Chason Virgil (16 for 27, 197 yards, one touchdown) connected with Jared Rice for a one-yard touchdown pass. Early in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs Kroening made his third field goal of the night to cut Nevada's lead to 21-16.

On Nevada's next possession, they went on a 14 play drive in which they ran on 13 of those plays and James Butler (37 rushes, 175 yards) was the bell cow for the Wolf Pack on that drive as they looked to extend their lead. Their lone pass play was a eight-yard touchdown pass from Stewart to Demps but Brett Zuso missed the PAT and the Wolf Pack's lead was at 27-16.

But Fresno State quickly responded on their next drive where after a remarkable catch by Jamire Jordan, the Bulldogs scored seven plays later on a five-yard touchdown run by Dontel James and failed two-point conversion by Fresno State made the score 27-22, Nevada.

Nevada got the ball but quickly went three and out and punted the ball to Fresno State as the Bulldogs had one a chance to win the game in the final minutes of the game. The Bulldogs drove the ball all the way to Nevada's four-line. The Wolf Pack stopped the Bulldogs on three consecutive plays and on fourth down with the game was on the line, the Wolf Pack stopped them a fourth time as Virgil's pass went incomplete and the Wolf Pack defense preserved the win.

The Wolf Pack will now travel to San Jose to face the Spartans next week.