Nevada's Carson Strong looks to pass against NMSU.
Photo by Thomas Ranson.
The Nevada Wolf Pack needed just two good quarters Saturday night to whip the New Mexico State Aggies, 55-28, at Mackay Stadium.
The Wolf Pack won the second and third quarters by a combined score of 49-0 while New Mexico State won the first and fourth quarters 28-6. It all added up to the Wolf Pack (4-1, 1-0) remaining on top of the Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings for another week.
“It’s hard to be mad when you score 50-plus points,” Wolf Pack head coach Jay Norvell said.
Norvell and the Wolf Pack, which will host Hawaii this Saturday night (7:30 p.m.) in Reno, do not have much to be mad about lately. The Pack rolled up 532 yards of offense against the Aggies as quarterback Carson Strong passed for 377 yards and six touchdowns.
It took a full quarter, though, for the Wolf Pack to get excited about playing the struggling Aggies, who are now 1-6.
“It was abut keeping the passion and staying consistent,” linebacker Daiyan Henley said. “It’s easy to get comfortable but when you get comfortable you get complacent. It’s never OK to be OK. You have to always want more and just continue to make progress.”
The 55 points are the third most the Wolf Pack has scored in Norvell’s five seasons as head coach behind a 72-19 victory over Portland State on Aug. 31, 2018 and a 59-14 win over San Jose State on Nov. 11, 2017.
“I know we can play much better still,” Norvell said.
There were no changes in the Appeal’s rankings among the top six teams. San Diego State remained at No. 2 with a convincing 31-7 victory over No. 11 New Mexico while No. 3 Air Force turned back No. 10 Wyoming, 24-10, and No. 4 Boise State recovered from its loss to Nevada the week before with a 26-17 win at BYU. No. 5 Hawaii and No. 6 Fresno State had byes last week.
San Diego State held New Mexico to just 193 yards of offense and 12 first downs. New Mexico’s only touchdown came on a 15-yard return of an Aztecs’ fumble by linebacker Ray Leutele.
“That’s our goal on defense, to allow zero points,” San Diego State defensive end Keshawn Banks said. “It feels good to pitch a shutout.”
Aztecs’ running back Greg Bell fumbled the ball that led to Leutele’s touchdown but the running back helped make up for it with 111 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“You can’t put the ball on the ground,” San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said. “That hurts our football team.”
Air Force broke a 14-14 tie in the third quarter against Wyoming with a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Haaziq Daniels to Micah Davis. Daniels was 7-of-10 through the air for 110 yards. The Falcons also ran for 211 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s great to score, no matter how we do it,” Daniels said. “At halftime the coaches told us we had to open it up (and throw the ball more) because (Wyoming) was stopping the run pretty well.”
Boise State rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns against BYU. Cyrus Habibi-Likio had 75 yards on 18 carries while Andrew Van Buren had 60 yards on 18 carries. Both of them scored a touchdown. The ground game allowed the Broncos to control the ball for over 33 minutes.
“BYU has a bend-but-don’t-break kind of defense,” Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier said. “They drop eight (defenders into pass coverage) and try to keep everything in front of them. So you have to run the ball against their three-man rush.”
BYU was ranked No. 10 in the nation by the Associated Press.
“It really does feel great after losing to BYU the past two years,” said Boise State linebacker Riley Whimpey, referring to 51-17 (2020) and 28-25 (2019) losses to the Cougars. “Those losses left a sour taste in our mouth. This (victory) is really something I can’t put into words.”
Colorado State moved up three spots to No. 7 with a 32-14 victory over No. 9 San Jose State. Colorado State ran for 217 yards and Rams’ quarterback Todd Centeio completed his first 12 passes and finished 19-of-23 for 232 yards and one touchdown.
“The plan to win for us, is five steps,” Colorado State head coach Steve Addazio said. “We have to play great defense, run the football, no turnovers, be great in special teams and score in the red zone. That’s our plan but it all starts with great defense.”
All dozen Mountain West teams will be in action this week starting with San Diego State at San Jose State on Friday night. San Jose State, the defending Mountain West champs, have lost three of their last five games to fall to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in league play.
The other key Mountain West matchup this week is Air Force at Boise State with the winner getting the edge in the Mountain Division race.
“We have a lot of really good teams to play,” Air force defensive back Tre Bugg said. “All we can do is go 1-0 each week.”
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Oct. 11 . . .
1. NEVADA (4-1, 1-0). Last week: Nevada 55, New Mexico State 28. This week: Hawaii at Nevada, Saturday.
2. SAN DIEGO STATE (5-0, 1-0). Last week: San Diego State 31, New Mexico 7. This week: San Diego State at San Jose State, Friday.
3. AIR FORCE (5-1, 2-1). Last week: Air Force 24, Wyoming 14. This week: Air Force at Boise State, Saturday.
4. BOISE STATE (3-3, 1-1). Last week: Boise State 26, BYU 17. This week: Air Force at Boise State, Saturday.
5. HAWAII (3-3, 1-1). Last week: Bye. This week: Hawaii at Nevada, Saturday.
6. FRESNO STATE (4-2, 1-1). Last week: Bye. This week: Fresno State at Wyoming, Saturday.
7. COLORADO STATE (2-3, 1-0). Last week: Colorado State 32, San Jose State 14. This week: Colorado State at New Mexico, Saturday.
8. UTAH STATE (3-2, 1-1). Last week: Bye. This week: Utah State at UNLV, Saturday.
9. SAN JOSE STATE (3-3, 1-1). Last week: Colorado State 32, San Jose State 14. This week: San Diego State at San Jose State, Friday.
10. WYOMING (4-1, 0-1). Last week: Air Force 24, Wyoming 14. This week: Fresno State at Wyoming, Saturday.
11. NEW MEXICO (2-4, 0-2). Last week: San Diego State 31, New Mexico 7. This week: Colorado State at New Mexico, Saturday.
12. UNLV (0-5, 0-1). Last week: Bye. This week: Utah State at UNLV, Saturday.