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Nevada overpowers Utah State 34-9, improves to 3-0 for the first time since 2010

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong & receiver Romeo Doubs fueled Nevada to its third straight victory.
Nevada Athletics Department

Despite a slow start, the Nevada Wolf Pack’s high-octane offense powered past the Utah State Aggies 34-9 Thursday evening at Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nev. The Pack improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2010— a season they went 13-1.

Utah State (0-3) jumped out to a quick 9-0 advantage with 5:32 in the first quarter, but Nevada scored 34 unanswered en-route to the blowout victory.

“We’re showing the type of team we are capable of being,” Nevada head coach Jay Norvell said postgame. “I’m starting to really believe in this team because of how we prepared ... We’ve got a long ways to go, but we’re excited about this next opportunity.”

The Wolf Pack — who was second in the Mountain West in yards per game (496.5 ypg) heading into Thursday — totaled just 16 yards with one first down on their first three drives.

They eventually brushed the dust off their shoulders.

Nevada (3-0) mustered together 526 yards of offense on its final ten drives and had 542 for the game. It was the third consecutive contest totaling 450-plus yards.

The dynamic duo of quarterback Carson Strong and receiver Romeo Doubs continued their reign of dominance. Strong went 36-for-52 with 411 yards, three touchdown passes and no interceptions. He now has five consecutive games of 350-plus passing yards.

The 6-foot-4 redshirt sophomore has completed 96-of-131 (73.2 percent) of his passes for 1,181 yards and nine touchdowns with zero interceptions through three games. Let’s prorate those figures over an eight-and 12-game season.

Carson Strong’s 2020 statistics

Current Statistics Prorated over 8 games Prorated over 12 games
Current Statistics Prorated over 8 games Prorated over 12 games
Completions 96 256 384
Attempts 131 349 524
Passing Yards 1,181 3,149 4724
Touchowns 9 24 36

Strong completed passes to ten different players, with eight accumulating multiple catches. He has 282 consecutive pass attempts without an interception— the most in the nation and the second-most in Mountain West history.

1. Carson Strong (Nevada) - 282
2. Dillon Gabriel (UCF) - 166
3. Jayden Daniels (Arizona State) - 157
4. Tyrrell Pigrome (WKU) - 143
5. Ian Book (Notre Dame) - 129
6. Max Duggan (TCU) - 127
7. Kedon Slovis (USC) - 126

Doubs finished with seven catches for 137 yards (19.6 yards per reception) and three touchdowns— all in the first half. He now leads the conference in receptions (26), receiving yards (473) and receiving touchdowns (5), while placing second in receiving yards per contest (157.67 ypg).

“Romeo is an amazing football player,” Norvell said. “Him and Carson have great chemistry. The plays that they made early kind of gave us that confidence back and got us back in the game.”

There have been 23 occurrences in school history where a receiver caught three touchdowns in a single game. The last time it was done in one half was Bryan Reeves against Utah State in 1994.

Let’s do the same proration for Doubs like we did for Strong:

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

Of course, the current statistical figures for both players are not likely to be sustainable, but it puts into perspective of how good they’ve been throughout Nevada’s first three games.

Justin Lockhart added six catches for 95 yards, while Cole Turner tallied four receptions for 66 yards. Toa Taua tallied 12 carries for a season-high 107 rushing yards. He proved to be a big benefactor as a checkdown receiver, tying a team-high with seven catches for 45 yards.

Thursday’s loss drops Utah State to 0-3 on the year, its worst start since 2008. It has lost by a combined 85 points in their first three contests. The struggles offensively continued for the Aggies after totaling just 210 yards of offense, including just 81 (on plays) in the second half. Jason Shelley completed 15-of-27 of his passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.

Jaylen Warren, who missed last game due to a leg injury, did not look like his usual self on the field. He had 33 total yards on nine touches. Devonta’e Henry-Cole had six carries for 23 yards.

Utah State failed to have a player record more than 30 yards receiving yards. Deven Thompkins posted a team-high six receptions for 30 yards, while Justin McGriff tallied two catches for 24 yards and a touchdown.

The game did not start smoothly for the Wolf Pack. Nevada turned the ball over on downs on its first drive. On the first play of its ensuing possession, AJ Vongphachanh sacked Strong in the endzone for a safety.

The Aggies capitalized on the early miscue. Shelley connected with McGriff in the back of the endzone on a four-yard score — giving the Aggies a 9-0 lead with 5:32 left in the first quarter.

Things began to fall apart for the Utah State defense in large part to the Strong-Doubs connection. Doubs put Nevada ahead 14-9 after scores from 42-and-3 yards away on its ensuing two drives.

The 6-foot-2 wideout completed the hat-trick on a 54-yard score for his third touchdown catch of the first half in as many drives. He finished the first half with seven catches, 137 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The Wolf Pack picked up right where they left off in the second half. Strong began 5-for-5 for 62 yards, but the drive was capped-off by a powerful 15-yard rushing score by Taua to put the Pack up 28-9.

Utah State struggled to manifest much offense in the final half, alternating between Shelley and Peasley. It was forced to punt on 11 of its first 12 total drives.

“I’m really proud of our defense,” Norvell said. “We basically controlled their offense and we’re excellent on third down. We didn’t give up any big plays and managed their offense really well.”

The Wolf Pack followed up with two field goals by placekicker Brandon Talton — from 36 and 26 yards away. Utah State had one more opportunity to score in the waning seconds, but turned it over on downs after an incomplete pass to Carson Terrell in the endzone.

Up next:

The Wolf Pack hit the road to play New Mexico (0-1) on Saturday, Nov. 14. The conference announced that it would be moved from Albuquerque, N.M., to Sam Boyd Stadium Las Vegas, Nev. due to COVID-19 health concerns in New Mexico. Kickoff is still scheduled for 3:30 p.m. PST and will air on Fox Sports 2.

Utah State will host Fresno State (1-1) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. PST on Fox Sports 2.

Nevada Athletics