Well, I hope everyone likes defense. Because that’s pretty much all there was last night. Fresno State has been known to have an elite defense, but this was definitely a new look for Nevada. Neither offense could get into a rhythm, and the game became more about the two defenses going toe-to-toe than the high-flying offensive show we were all expecting.
Things got off to a very slow start, as both teams went scoreless in the first quarter. About the only highlight was the Fresno State defense stepping up and stopping McLane Mannix on 4th and 1. Both offenses sputtered along with only 6 first downs between the two teams. If you were looking for a shootout, you definitely weren’t going to find it here.
At the beginning of the second quarter though, the Bulldogs finally found a bit of offense, driving 70 yards down the field, and hitting Ronnie Rivers on a 19yd play to get the Dogs on the board 7-0. Nevada would slide down the field on their next drive, and get on the board themselves with a 41yd field goal from Ramiz Ahmed. And now you’ve heard the entire offensive output of the first half.
On the defensive side of of the ball though, things were a bit more interesting. Christian Solano, starting in place of the injured Ty Gangi, threw an interception to Tank Kelly that got returned to the Nevada 11yd line. They would instantly give it back though as Dameon Baber knocked the ball out of Jamire Jordan’s hands on a jet sweep, and it was recovered by the Wolf Pack. They wouldn’t do a whole lot with the ball, and for some reason, Solano decided to try to lob the ball downfield as the half wore down, and Juju Hughes was able to make an acrobatic interception at the 5yd line. That made it 2 turnovers for Nevada, and 1 for Fresno State. Solano’s INTs would be the biggest problem for Nevada tonight, as it stymied any offensive momentum they would generate throughout the night.
The second half started much the same as the first, with the teams trading punts on their first drives. Fresno would make the first move though, as Marcus McMaryion hit Jared Rice on a beautiful seam route for 69yds to get the Dogs into the red zone. All of a sudden, it looked like the Bulldogs were waking up. After a few short plays, Ronnie Rivers got his second TD of the night, this time on a 2yd TD run on 4th down. The score was only 14-3, but Fresno State was definitely in control of this game if Nevada couldn’t get anything moving on offense. (I’ll give you a hint, they couldn’t)
Solano would throw his 3rd INT of the night to his 3rd different defender as Mike Bell was able to jump a route and take the ball away. Sadly though, as was the story of the night, the Dogs didn’t do a whole lot with it, and ended up punting the ball back to Nevada. Nevada wouldn’t do anything with their possession, as Kevin Atkins flew through the line and sacked Solano for a 9yd loss on 3rd down. Another Quinton Conaway punt gave the Dogs the ball in plus territory again, and this time they would find pay dirt.
It would take the Bulldogs 4 plays to get down to the endzone. Two quick rushes, another big pass to Jared Rice, and a 27yd pass to Keesean Johnson, and the game was pretty much sealed. Fresno State was up 21-3, and Nevada had no appreciable offense to get back into the game. I feel like apologizing to everyone that voluntarily watched this game without being a die-hard fan of either team. Nevada outgained Fresno State, held the ball longer, had more first downs, and lost by 18. Football is a weird sport sometimes. The Dogs move to 1-0 in the conference, and Nevada falls to 1-1.
What Happens Next:
Fresno State (4-1, 1-0 MWC) will return home to face Wyoming (2-4, 0-2 MWC). Wyoming lost a heart-breaker to Hawaii on the islands, and have to travel again to face off in what should be defensive slugfest.
Nevada (3-3, 1-1 MWC) will hope to get Ty Gangi back as they face Boise State (3-2, 1-1 MWC) on CBS Sports Network. This will be a tough test for the Wolf Pack, Gangi or no Gangi. Even with the upset loss to SDSU, Boise maintains the talent advantage over Nevada.