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Nevada escapes Las Vegas with a 27-20 victory over New Mexico

Nevada v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A late New Mexico surge fell just short in a 27-20 loss to the Nevada Wolf Pack in Las Vegas, Nev. on Saturday evening.

New Mexico possessed the pigskin on its own 39, down 27-13 with 6:47 remaining. A 42-yard, highlight-reel catch by Alex Ericksen immediately put the Lobos inside the red zone. The seven-play, 61-yard drive was capped-off on a one-yard score by tailback Bobby Cole to make it a one possession contest with 4:02 to go.

Penalties and poor execution forced a Nevada punt on its ensuing possession. New Mexico marched down to the Wolf Pack 23-yard-line with under 1:30 remaining.

A fourth-and-3 incompletion to Emmanuel Logan-Greene gave the Wolf Pack the ball back and clinched their victory.

Nevada starts 4-0 for the first time since 2010 and for the ninth time in program history. Saturday’s loss extends the Lobo losing streak to 12 games and their conference losing skid to 18 games.

Though New Mexico was the host team, it was a neutral-site contest. The game was moved from Albuquerque, N.M., to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas after COVID-19 protocols imposed by the state of New Mexico (max gathering limit of five people) made any football activity inconceivable to conduct.

Nevada totaled 392 yards with 19 first downs. Quarterback Carson Strong went 24-for-38 (63.2 percent) for 336 yards with three touchdown passes, all finding to junior wideout Romeo Doubs. Strong also had one interception, snapping his streak of consecutive passes without an interception.

His streak concluded at a school-record 299 straight pass attempts, eight short of Derek Carr’s Mountain West record of 306 (in 2013).

1. Derek Carr (Fresno State) - 306
2. Carson Strong (Nevada) - 299
3. Garrett Grayson (Colorado State) - 213
4. Cody Fajardo (Nevada) - 193
5. Caleb Herring (UNLV) - 183

Although one record wasn’t met, the 6-foot-4 signal caller did break a record.

Strong posted his sixth consecutive 300-yard performance — becoming the first player in Mountain West history to accomplish the feat. Three other quarterbacks in conference history had five straight: Carr, David Fales (SJSU) and Joe Gray (SJSU). He now has 12 touchdown passes this season after totaling 11 all of last year (10 games).

Nevada struggled generating a consistent ground game. Tailbacks Toa Taua and Devonte Lee combined for 69 rushing yards on 3.4 yards per carry. Taua totaled 78 yards from scrimmage on 19 total touches.

Doubs tallied his second consecutive three-touchdown performance. He has scored touchdowns in five straight games dating back to last year. The 6-foot-2 wideout finished with five receptions for 172 yards.

In just four games, Doubs has an astounding 31 catches for 645 yards and eight touchdowns.

Romeo Doubs’ 2020 statistics

Current Statistics (thru 5 games) Prorated over 8 games Prorated over 12 games
Current Statistics (thru 5 games) Prorated over 8 games Prorated over 12 games
Receptions 36 57 86
Receiving yards 778 1,245 1,867
Touchdowns 9 14 22

Cole Turner hauled in a team-high six catches for 72 yards. Melquan Stovall tied a season-high with five catches for 55 yards.

New Mexico, who entered the contest averaging 471.0 yards per game in its first two contests, totaled 352 yards.

In his second career start, Trae Hall completed 17-of-32 passes (53.1 percent) for 195 yards with an interception. Cole had a team-high 90 rushing yards — seven shy of a career-high — on 5.3 yards per carry. Cole was second on the team in receptions with three for 22 yards.

Hall completed passes to nine different receivers.

Logan-Greene tallied 56 yards on five receptions — both team highs. Jordan Kress totaled two receptions for 50 yards, while Andre Erickson added two catches for 49 yards.

Both defensive fronts created havoc in the opposing backfield. New Mexico, who had two sacks heading into Saturday, had two sacks (both by Joey Noble) with nine tackles-for-loss. Nevada registered two sacks and eight tackles-for-loss.

Both teams also recorded an interception. New Mexico had four interceptions all of last year. It already has three this year, all by defensive back Jerrick Reed II.

The only Lobo touchdown pass on the game came on q16-yard pass from tailback Bryson Carroll, who was originally recruited to New Mexico as a quarterback. He received a forward pitch from Hall, but threw it back to Hall who scampered behind blockers for the score.

New Mexico caught Nevada asleep on the ensuing kickoff, converting an onside kick. The Lobos couldn’t convert for six, as placekicker George Steinkamp put them ahead 10-0 on a 26-yard field goal.

The Wolf Pack finally got on the board after a 28-yard field goal from Brandon Talton. Nevada safety Tyson Williams intercepted a tipped screen pass, directly followed by a 33-yard touchdown from Strong to Doubs to even the contest at 10.

Steinkamp hit a 48-yard field goal to award New Mexico with a 13-10 halftime advantage. It was the first time Nevada has trailed at half this season. It had just 137 yards — 132 via the pass — to New Mexico’s 158.

Nevada opened the second-half with a 34-yard field goal by Talton.

Talton, the reigning Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week honoree, is a perfect 8-for-8 on the season. He has hit his last 14 field goals — the longest streak of his career.

The dynamic Strong-Doubs duo connected once more on a 61-yard touchdown to put Nevada ahead 20-13. The Lobos were driving on its ensuing drive, but a bad snap led to a failed fourth-and-1 attempt in Nevada territory.

The duo connected thrice from 59 yards out in the first drive of the final quarter. Four of Doubs’ eight touchdowns have been from 50-plus yards and two from 60-plus.

This is the second straight game where New Mexico lost after holding a halftime lead.

Nevada Athletic Department