C.J. Bacher threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to a diving Ross Lane with 21 seconds left Saturday to cap a frenzied six-play 80-yard drive as Northwestern rallied for a 36-31 victory over Nevada.
Bacher set up the game-winning score with runs of 20 and 15 yards to the Nevada 13. He threw incomplete before firing the ball to Lane who went down for a scooping catch with Nevada's Devon Walker on top of him. The play was reviewed and the call on the field upheld.
Northwestern then tacked on two points on the final play when Kevin Mims sacked Nevada quarterback Nick Graziano in the end zone.
It was a crushing loss for Nevada (0-2), which was coming off a 52-10 defeat at Nebraska a week ago.
Nevada took a 24-10 halftime lead when Graziano hit Kyle Sammons for a 48-yard TD on the final play of the half.
After Northwestern (2-0) rallied to go up 27-24 lead on a 16-yard Bacher TD pass to third string running back Omar Conteh early in the fourth quarter, Nevada came back and grabbed a 31-27 lead when Luke Lippincott ran 27 yards for a TD with 3:38 left.
Northwestern got the ball back twice after the TD. The Wildcats were stacked up on a fourth-and-1 the first time but forced a punt.
Given another chance, Bacher led a final drive, hitting a 23-yard pass to Kim Thompson and then carrying twice himself, setting up the TD pass to Lane.
Reggie McPherson's interception and 39-yard return and a personal foul penalty gave Northwestern a first down at the Nevada 13 early in the second half, but all the Wildcats could muster was a field goal by Armado Villarreal that made it 24-13.
With Northwestern's leading rusher Tyrell Sutton sidelined after injuring his ankle in the second quarter, backup Brandon Roberson responded by breaking off a 76-yard run to the Nevada 13. Bacher's 12-yard scramble set up Roberson's 1-yard TD, cutting the lead to 24-20.
Graziano, in his second career start, gave the Wolf Pack a big halftime lead on the final play. He avoided a rush, stepped outside the pocket and rolling left hit a wide open Sammons, who stepped into the end zone.
Brandon Fragger had a 14-yard TD run to tie the game for Nevada, capping an 85-yard drive on the Wolf Pack's first possession.
Northwestern had taken the opening kickoff and behind six completions from Bacher moved in for the score with Tonjua Jones grabbing a 1-yard scoring pass, but for the rest of the half the Wildcats' pass-happy offense struggled.
Graziano had completions of 19 and 14 yards to Mike McCoy and then on the fourth play of the second quarter threaded a nice throw to tight end Adam Bishop for a 24-yard TD and a 14-7 lead.
Sutton returned late in the half for one play and took a 32-yard swing pass from Bacher, helping set up a 46-yard field goal by Villarreal with 47 seconds left.
Sutton only carried three times for 14 yards.