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Wolf Pack gears up for huge Mountain West game at Fresno State

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 6:04 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (Nevada Athletics) - Nevada (5-1, 2-0) at Fresno State (5-2, 2-1)

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021 – 4 p.m.

Fresno, Calif. – Bulldog Stadium

TV: FS2 (PxP – Dan Hellie; Analyst – Petros Papadakis)

Radio: 94.5 FM (PxP - John Ramey; Analyst - Mike Edwards)

NEVADA HITS THE ROAD TO FACE FRESNO STATE IN WEST DIVISION TILT

Nevada (5-1, 2-0), following a 34-17 win against Hawai’i, travels to Fresno State (5-2, 2-1) for a 4 p.m. (PT) kickoff at Bulldog Stadium. Saturday’s contest will be broadcast on FS2, with Dan Hellie (play-by-play), Petros Papadakis (analyst) on the call. This marks the 46th matchup with Fresno State and the Bulldogs lead the all-time series 28-17. The Wolf Pack plays its second conference road game of the season after taking the MWC opener 41-31 at Boise State on Oct. 2. The Pack and the Bulldogs last met up on Dec. 5, 2020, when Nevada came away with a 37-26 win at Mackay Stadium.

The Wolf Pack Radio Network will call the game as well on 94.5 FM with John Ramey (play-by-play) and Mike Edwards (analyst) in the booth, with the 60-minute pregame show to begin at 3 p.m. PT.

SERIES HISTORY

Nevada and Fresno State will meet for the 46th time on Saturday. The Bulldogs hold a 28-17 series edge over the Pack. The first time the two programs met was in 1930 with Fresno State securing a 6-0 victory. Nevada has won five of the last 10 matchups. The Pack defeated Fresno State in 2019 and again in 2020. In 2020, the Pack defeated Fresno State, 37-26, at Mackay.

HONORING THE CITY OF SPARKS FIRE DEPARTMENT

For the remainder of the season, the Nevada football team will have a Sparks Fire Department sticker on the helmet to honor the dedication, bravery, and service during the devastating fire season that impacted those around Reno and in the Tahoe region. Sparks deployed more than 50 firefighters this year to more than 20 separate fires in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, Idaho, and Colorado. A photo of the helmet sticker can be made available upon request.

NEVADA SITS AT THE TOP OF THE WEST DIVISION

Nevada opened its 2021 season with a 22-17 victory over the California Golden Bears in Berkeley on Sept. 4. Prior to the win over Cal, Nevada’s last road win at a Power 5 team also came at Cal when Nevada defeated the Golden Bears 31-24 on Sept. 1, 2012. After Cal opened the game with a 14-0 lead, Nevada scored 22 unanswered points to lead the remainder of the game. Carson Strong threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns, posting the ninth 300-yard passing game of his career. Kicker Brandon Talton recorded the 12th multi-FG game of his career after going 3-for-4 for Nevada. Romeo Doubs finished with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown, Cole Turner led all Pack receivers with seven catches (for 75 yards), and WR Tory Horton led the Pack with 94 receiving yards on three catches. Elijah Cooks recorded his first touchdown since the 2020 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Jan. 3, 2020. The Pack defense came up clutch to secure Nevada’s victory. Cornerback Isaiah Essissima, a transfer from Wake Forest, made his first interception in a Nevada jersey in his Wolf Pack debut, stopping a late fourth-quarter Cal drive with a pick. Sam Hammond and Daniel Grzesiak tallied sacks for the Pack, including Hammond’s 13-yard loss which resulted in a missed Cal field goal attempt. JoJuan Claiborne led the Pack defense with 10 tackles (eight solo), and shared a tackle-for-loss.

Nevada handled business on Sept. 11 in its first home game of the 2021 season. The Pack defeated Idaho State, 49-10. Carson Strong powered the Pack offense, throwing for 381 yards and four touchdowns. Strong completed 34 of 43 passes, including two touchdowns to Elijah Cooks, who finished with seven receptions for 89 yards. Devonte Lee recorded a 2-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth. Cole Turner had a touchdown catch. Backup quarterback Nate Cox stepped in the game in the fourth quarter, delivering a 43-yard touchdown to Harry Ballard.

Nevada dropped its first game of the season to No. 25 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., on Sept. 18. Despite the 38-17 final score being in favor of the Wildcats, the Pack and Kansas State began the fourth quarter tied at 17. WR Romeo Doubs made 7 catches for 121 yards for a season high in yardage. His previous season-best was 83 yards on six receptions against Cal on Sept. 4. It marked his most receiving yards since he gained 133 yards on 5 receptions at Hawai’i on Nov. 21, 2020.

Nevada secured its first conference win of the season in Boise, Idaho, on Oct. 2. The Pack defeated the Broncos, 41-31, in a packed Albertson’s Stadium. Carson Strong threw for 263 yards and a touchdown while running back Toa Taua rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Nevada snapped its six-game losing streak to the Broncos, dating back to 2010. Nevada last won in Boise in 1997. Tristan Nichols forced a fumble on Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier. Then, five plays later, Taua punched it into the end zone from 12 yards out to give Nevada a permanent lead. Placekicker Brandon Talton had a strong game, going 4-for-4 in field goal attempts and 3-for-3 on PATs.

Nevada picked up its fourth win of the season after cruising to a 55-28 victory over New Mexico State on Saturday. Carson Strong threw a career-high six touchdown passes — four in the second quarter — and Nevada cruised to a 55-28 win over New Mexico State on Saturday night.

Strong, who did not play in the fourth quarter, finished 25-of-32 passing for 377 yards with one interception. His six touchdown passes were one shy of Nevada’s single-game record and were the most by a Wolf Pack quarterback since Mike Maxwell twice tossed seven touchdowns in a game, against UNLV and Louisiana-Monroe, in 1995.

Nevada took the opening kick of the second half and Turner’s 3-yard scoring catch capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive that made it 38-3. Strong connected with Henry Ballard for a 33-yard touchdown about four minutes later and cornerback BerDale Robins ripped the ball from New Mexico State’s Jared Wyatt and raced 25 yards for a score to give Nevada a 52-3 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Carson Strong passed for 395 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns and Nevada pulled away after halftime to beat Hawaii 34-17 in Mountain West Conference play on Saturday.

The Wolf Pack (5-1, 2-0) scored first on a Brandon Talton 23-yard field goal midway through the first quarter, but the lead lasted just one play after Dae Dae Hunter took a first-down handoff and raced 75 yards to the end zone for Hawaii (3-4, 1-2). Nevada went up 10-7 on Toa Taua’s 6-yard TD run with 12:58 left in the second quarter, but again the lead lasted one play after Hunter took a first-down handoff 81 yards for a TD. The Wolf Pack answered with a 10-yard TD run by Taua for a 17-14 lead. Both teams added field goals before halftime.

Strong took over in the third quarter for Nevada, throwing scoring passes of 28 yards to Romeo Doubs a 3-yarder to Tory Horton as the Wolf Pack upped their advantage to 34-17 with 2:25 left in the period. Strong completed 34 of 54 passes. Cole Turner had a career-best 12 catches for 175 yards.

TURNER NAMED REESE’S SENIOR BOWL OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Senior tight end Cole Turner was named the Reese’s Senior Bowl Offensive Player of the Week after a career-best performance against Hawai’i. Turner hauled in 12 receptions for a career-high 175 yards against the Rainbow Warriors.

LEADING THE NATION

The Wolf Pack lead the nation in sacks after accumulating 27 through six games. Tristan Nichols also leads the country in individual sacks (8.0). Nichols leads Nevada with eight, while Dom Peterson (4.5), Sam Hammond (4.0), Daniel Grzesiak (2.0), Chris Love (2.0), Lawson Hall (1.0), Trevor Price (1.0), AJ King (1.0), Tyson Williams (1.0), and Jack Powers (1.5) have all chipped in.

STRONG WEEKLY HONORS

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong was named Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week, Monday, following a six-touchdown performance in the Pack’s 55-28 win over New Mexico State. In addition, Strong was also named to the Davey O’Brien Great 8 list and Manning Award Star of the Week after his performance against the Aggies.

Vacaville, Calif., native threw for 377 yards and six touchdowns while completing 25-of-32 passes against New Mexico State.

The six touchdown passes marked a single-game career-high for Strong and is the most touchdowns thrown in a game by a Wolf Pack quarterback since Mike Maxwell threw seven touchdowns twice during the 1995 season against UNLV and Louisiana-Monroe.

The 300-yard game was the 11th of Strong’s career, and his six touchdown passes came over a 52-point Nevada run in which the Pack erased a 7-0 first-quarter deficit to grab a 52-7 lead through three quarters.

TALTON, TAUA SECURE MW WEEKLY HONORS

Place kicker Brandon Talton has been named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week, while running back Toa Taua has been selected as Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week, the conference announced Monday.

Talton went 4-for-4 on field goal attempts at Boise State, marking his first 4-for-4 performance since Sept. 14, 2019, against Weber State. Talton accounted for 14 of Nevada’s 15 points after going 3-for-3 on PATs. Talton made two 38-yard field goals, along with hitting one from 37 and another from 33.

Taua led the Nevada rushing attack with a season-high 124 yards on 12 carries, averaging 10.3 yards per touch. Taua also punched the ball in the endzone twice and caught seven passes for 44 yards. In addition, Taua’s 124 yards marked his most on the ground since he rushed for 131 on Nov. 28, 2020, against Hawaii.

GAME OF FIRSTS

Backup quarterback Nate Cox stepped into the Idaho State game in the fourth quarter, tossing a 43-yard touchdown pass to Harry Ballard for both of their first career touchdown passes and receptions in a Wolf Pack uniform. Senior running back Devonte Lee also made his first-career touchdown reception, a 15-yard pass from Carson Strong with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter against Idaho State.

PACK DEFENSE SHINES BRIGHT

The Nevada defense provided a spark in the Pack’s routing of Idaho State on Saturday. Lawson Hall led the defense with 10 total tackles, including a sack and forced fumble. Tristan Nichols also had a strong output, totaling four tackles and three sacks for a combined loss of 17 yards. Daiyan Henley racked up eight tackles and recorded two pass breakups. The Pack defense combined for eight sacks and two forced fumbles, including a strip-sack by Tristan Nichols that resulted in a Dom Peterson return for a touchdown. The Pack limited Boise State (10/2) to just 22 total rushing yards and recorded six sacks for a loss of 57 yards. The Pack held Hawai’i scoreless in the second half of Saturday’s 34-17 victory on homecoming (10/16).

PROGRAM HISTORY

Nevada is in its 115th season of collegiate football, seeking win No. 568 in the program’s strong history. The Wolf Pack sports an all-time record of 570-498-33. Since joining the FBS in 1992, Nevada is 195-164 overall and 127-89 in conference play. Nevada has posted winning seasons in 11 out of its past 14 campaigns.

FOLLOW THE PACK

Follow Nevada Football on social media at @NevadaFootball (Twitter), @nevadafootball (Instagram), and on Facebook at @NevadaWolfPack.

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