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Wolf Pack prepares for country’s top rushing attack in Air Force

Nevada wide receiver Romeo Douds (7) makes the catch against Hawaii in the second half of an...
Nevada wide receiver Romeo Douds (7) makes the catch against Hawaii in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Reno, Nev., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes)(Tom R. Smedes | AP)
Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 5:51 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (Nevada Athletics) - Nevada (7-3, 4-2) vs. Air Force (7-3, 4-2)

Reno, Nev. – Mackay Stadium (Chris Ault Field)

Friday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.

TV: FS1 (Alex Faust, Play-by-play; Petros Papadakis, Analyst)

Radio: Wolf Pack Radio Network, 94.5 FM (John Ramey, Play-by-Play; Mike Edwards, analyst)

Nevada (7-3, 4-2), following a 23-21 loss at San Diego State, returns home to face Air Force (7-3, 4-2) for a 6 p.m. (PT) kickoff at Mackay Stadium. Saturday’s contest will be broadcast on FS1 with Alex Faust (play-by-play) and Petros Papadakis (analyst) on the call. The Wolf Pack host the Falcons looking to bounce back from a two-point loss on the road at San Diego State. Nevada won the last meeting 28-25 in 2018 on the road. The Pack is 2-3 against Air Force all-time including a 1-1 home record and a 1-2 road record.  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 5 p.m. PT. 

SENIOR NIGHT Join us in recognizing our Wolf Pack Seniors who have amassed a career record of 32-25 and have clinched four consecutive bowl appearances. We will also be recognizing our Pride of the Sierra Band Seniors as well as our Nevada Cheerleading seniors.  

GIVEAWAY: 500 NEVADA FOOTBALL TURNOVER TOWELS SERIES HISTORY

Nevada hosts Air Force on Friday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. The last time the two programs met was on Sept. 29, 2018, when Nevada defeated the Falcons 28-25. Air Force holds a 3-2 edge over the Pack. Nevada is 1-2 at home against Air Force all-time.  

HONORING THE CITY OF SPARKS FIRE DEPARTMENT 

For the remainder of the season, the Nevada football team will have a Sparks Fire Department decal on the helmet to honor the dedication, bravery, and service during the devastating fire season that impacted those around Nevada, California, and Lake Tahoe. 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 READY TO BOUNCE BACK ON SENIOR NIGHT

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. JoJo 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. Fresno State defeated the Pack 34-32 on Oct. 23. Down 34-26, Nevada’s Carson Strong threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Cole Turner to cut the deficit to two points with two seconds left, but the 2-point conversion attempt was caught out of the back of the end zone. The Wolf Pack recovered the onside kick but time expired in the scramble for the ball. Nevada football became bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season with a 51-20 win over UNLV on Friday.  Carson Strong threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns, Nevada’s defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns and the Wolf Pack defeated UNLV. Strong hit all-conference receivers Romeo Doubs and Cole Turner with early touchdown passes as Nevada (6-2, 3-1 Mountain West) scored on its first four possessions. He completed passes to nine receivers. Tight-end Turner dove away from tight coverage to make a 4-yard touchdown catch in the end zone as Nevada marched its opening possession 73 yards in five plays. Doubs made a leaping catch for a 28-yard score and a 20-0 halftime lead. The Pack secured its 7th win of the season with a last-second game-winning 45-yard field goal by Brandon Talton to take down San Jose State 27-24. Nevada has matched its 2020 win total with seven wins (7-3) and sits at 4-2 in the conference after a two-point loss at SDSU (23-21). 

TALTON NABS MW PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Brandon Talton is 55 made field goals after going 3-for-3 on field goals against UNLV. Talton kicked a 52-yard field goal which is the longest this season and the second longest of his career (56, 2019). It marked the fourth perfect kicking game of the season for Talton. UNLV’s win also secured Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week for Talton. Talton is 5th in the nation in made field goals this season (19).  

DON’T THROW NEAR HENLEY

Senior linebacker Daiyan Henley leads all FBS linebackers in interceptions this season with four. Henley’s four interceptions are tied for third nationally. Henley is one of two linebackers in the top-10 nationally in interceptions.  

OFFENSIVE POWER

Nevada is 8th in the nation in total offense with 3,401 total yards, including 304.1 yards per game. The Wolf Pack has the 4th ranked passing offense in the country (373.7) as well as the 24th ranked scoring offense (34.9 ppg).  The Pack is 6th in the nation in completion percentage (70.3), completing 336 of 478 pass attempts. Nevada leads the Mountain West Conference in offense scoring 34.9 points per game. QB Carson Strong leads the charge with the 4th-most passing yards in the FBS (3,547, leads MWC) and the 4th-most passing yards per game (354.7 - leads MWC). Strong is 9th in the nation with 28 passing-touchdowns, joining Jake Haener (25; Fresno State) atop of the conference.  Strong is 9th in the nation in completion percentage (70.5), completing 323 of 458 pass attempts. He is 14th nationally in points responsible for (170), 2nd in the Mountain West Conference (1st; J. Haener - 188). Strong has thrown 66-career touchdown passes which is 4th all-time in Nevada history. He has thrown 28 touchdowns which is 5th all-time in Nevada history.  

NEVADA BECOMES BOWL ELIGIBLE FOR FOURTH-CONSECUTIVE YEAR

Nevada is bowl eligible for the fourth straight year under Head Coach Jay Norvell after moving to 6-2 on the year with a 51-20 victory over UNLV to retain the Fremont Cannon. The Mountain West Conference has bowl tie-ins with the Los Angeles Bowl (12/18), Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (12/22), New Mexico Bowl (12/18), Arizona Bowl (12/31), SoFi Hawai’i Bowl (12/24), and the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl (12/21). Nevada defeated Tulane 38-27 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to move to 2-1 in Bowl Games under Coach Norvell, after finishing third in the MWC with a 6-2 conference record in 2020. Bowl announcements will take place on Sunday, Dec. 5, and broadcast information for the selection show with more information will be shared prior to that date. 

TURNOVER TOWEL 

The Pack defense led by LB Daiyan Henley and DB Berdale Robins returned two turnovers for touchdowns. It marked the second straight game that the Pack has scored two touchdowns on defense. The Pack is 1st in the nation in defensive TDs (6).  DB Tyson Williams and LB Daiyan Henley recorded defensive touchdowns in back-to-back games against UNLV and San Jose State.  Against San Jose State, Henley opened the scoring for the Pack with 8:27 left in the 1st quarter as DB Jordan Lee’s hit caused a fumble and Henley picked it up and ran 56 yards into the end zone to give the Pack a 7-0 lead. Henley entered the game leading linebackers nationally in interceptions with four. He is 1st in the nation among linebackers in INT (4).  Robins intercepted SJSU’s QB Nick Nash and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown with 11:55 left in the third quarter to put the Pack up 14-7. It marked the first time this season that the first 14 points were scored by the defense for the Wolf Pack. It was the first interception return for a touchdown of Robins’ career and the longest scoring play for the defense this season. 

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. 

NEVADA RANKS IN TOP FIVE IN TEAM SACKS

The Wolf Pack is 5th in the nation in sacks after accumulating 34 (3.40 per game) for a total of 233 yards through eight games. Nichols is 6th in the nation with 9.5, while Dom Peterson (5.0), Sam Hammond (5.0), Daniel Grzesiak (3.0), 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 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 break ups. 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). 

DOM-INATING THE LINE

Senior DT Dom Peterson enters the 2021 season as one of the top defensive linemen in the Mountain West, and in the nation, and did not disappoint during the 2020 season. He sits at fifth in tackles for loss and sixth in career sacks.  

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