Defense comes up big again as Nevada beats New Mexico 34-24
RENO, Nev. (AP) — Brandon Talton kicked field goals of 34, 47, 52 and 22 yards, Richard Toney Jr. returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdowns and Nevada beat New Mexico 34-24 Saturday night.
Brendon Lewis completed 8 of 16 passes for 92 yards and added 64 yards rushing on 11 carries for Nevada (1-6, 1-2). The Wolf Pack, who beat San Diego State 6-0 last week to end a 16-game skid, has won back-to-back games for the first time since they won the first two games of the 2022 season.
Talton’s 47-yarder gave Nevada a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter and, two plays from scrimmage later, Toney’s pick-6 made it a two-score game. Jamaal Bell scored on a 9-yard run with nearly 4 minutes left in the first half and Lewis ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 21-0 at intermission.
Dylan Hopkins was 18-of-34 passing for 271 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions for New Mexico (3-4, 1-2 Mountain West). Jeremiah Hixon finished with four receptions for 116 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown that trimmed the Lobos’ deficit to 14 points in the third quarter.
Dalevon Campbell had 79 yards on two receptions for Nevada.
Jacques Badolato-Birdsell scored on a 2-yard run that gave the Wolf Pack a 34-10 lead with 12 minutes to play.
Devon Dampier and Jacory Croskey-Merritt each added a short touchdown run for New Mexico in the fourth quarter.
(Nevada Athletics) - • Nevada defeated New Mexico, 34-24, Saturday night ... Nevada is now 2-6 on the season and 2-2 in Mountain West play.
• Nevada leads the all-time series with New Mexico, 6-3-1.
• The win was Nevada’s first at Mackay Stadium since a 38-14 victory over Texas State on Sept. 3, 2022 ... it ended a streak of eight home losses.
• Nevada’s 24 first-half points marks its highest first-half scoring output since scoring 31 in a 52-10 win at Colorado Satte on Nov. 27, 2021.
• Nevada’s shutout streak was ended with 11:21 remaining in the third quarter on Luke Drzewiecki’s 47-yard field goal ... it snapped a shutout run of 97:16 of game time by the Nevada defense.
• New Mexico’s touchdown with 8:12 left in the third quarter ended the Nevada defense’s streak of not giving up a touchdown at 100:25 of game time.
• Nevada rushed for 180 yards Saturday night, its second-highest total of the season (187 vs. UNLV, Oct. 14).
• Jamaal Bell led the Wolf Pack with 76 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, and caught two passes for two yards.
• New Mexico rushed for just 83 yards Saturday night, an opponent season low.
• Nevada recorded three takeaways (three INT) Saturday night--matching its highest total of the season (3 at Texas State, Sept. 23).
• Defensive back Richard Toney Jr. returned a second-quarter interception 43 yards for a touchdown ... it is Nevada’s second pick-six of the season (KK Meier, 98 yards at Texas State, Sept. 23) ... Toney also finished the game with six tackles, and a shared tackle-for-loss.
• Defensive end Jonathan Maldonado’s first-quarter interception was the first of his career, and his second-straight game with a takeaway (fumble recovery at San Diego State, Oct. 21).
• Defensive back Michael Coats Jr. intercepted his first-career pass, returning it 42 yards ... Coats Jr. also broke up two passes and made two tackles.
• Safety Emany Johnson led the Wolf Pack with 10 tackles Saturday, his third double digit-tackle game of the season.
• Kicker Brandon Talton hit his sixth-career field goal of 50-plus yards with his 52-yarder in the second quarter.
• Talton matched his career high with four field goals made, going 4-for-4 on the night (34, 47, 52, 22) ... his previous four-FG games were against Weber State (Sept. 14, 2019; 4-for-4), against San Diego State (Oct. 21, 2020; 4-for-5), and at Boise State (Oct. 2, 2021; 4-for-4).
• Talton, with 14 points on the night, moved alone into second place on Nevada’s all-time scoring list ... he is currently at 370 career points, just 15 behind all-time leader Marty Zendejas (385).
• Running back Jacques Badolato-Birdsell scored his first-career touchdown on a two-yard rush in the thrid quarter ... Badolato-Birdsell finished the game with 36 rushing yards on 15 carries.
• Freshman tight end Jayden O’Rourke made the first catch of his collegiate career, a 12-yard reception in the third quarter.
• Wide receiver Dalevon Campbell led the Pack with 79 receiving yards on two catches.
• Carlos Sandy returned a punt 36 yards on the final play of the third quarter, the longest punt return of the season for Nevada.
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