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Dancing with wolves: Nevada wins Arizona Bowl in overtime thriller

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Nevada earns first eight-win regular season since joining MWC.

NCAA Football: Arizona Bowl-Arkansas State vs Nevada Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Reagan Roberson’s second catch of the season made Wolf Pack history, as Nevada stormed back to steal a 16-13 overtime victory over the Arkansas State Red Wolves Saturday. Once again, The Pack are winners of the Arizona Bowl for the second time since 2015 and have six bowl victories in school history.

Roberson’s game-winning 11-yard touchdown reception sealed the come-from-behind victory and brought the house down on the Nevada sidelines. The Wolf Pack won eight games for the first time in a single season since joining the Mountain West Conference.

OFFENSE:

  • Despite the late-game heroics from both teams, it was an ugly display of football offensively. Quarterbacks Ty Gangi and Justice Hansen combined for five interceptions, and Nevada had 285 yards of total offense. Both teams were scoreless until the five-minute mark in the second quarter.
  • Fourth Quarter Comeback: The Pack took a 10-7 lead with 1:07 left in the fourth courtesy of a 10-play, 74-yard drive setup by a 44-yard pass to walk-on Ben Putman to drive into Red Wolves territory. Nevada also converted on fourth and seven during the drive capped-off by Devonta Lee’s one-yard score, but Arkansas State responded with a 31-yard field goal to send the game into OT.
  • Red Zone Mishaps: Arkansas State won the time of possession battle, had more first downs (25-15) and ran 103 total plays to Nevada’s 83. But the Red Wolves unraveled when the passed the 50-yard line, they came away with zero points on four-straight red-zone possessions. These offensive woes included a missed field goal, Hansen’s interception and two turnovers on downs.

DEFENSE:

  • Both teams recorded three sacks and forced both signal callers to make difficult throws outside the pocket. Nevada defensive back Justin Brent was a menace in the secondary, his two interceptions made Wolf Pack history as the only player to have multiple interceptions in a bowl game. Brent made the switch from wide receiver to defensive back this off-season and it has paid off quite handsomely.

OUTLOOK:

The matchup had a roller coaster of emotions. For every bit of ugly, either team had a memorable play to put them into opposing territory. Despite the low scoring output, the Wolf Pack’s clutch play of late made this Arizona Bowl matchup one we won’t forget for quite some time.