Nevada head coach Jay Norvell during the game against Kansas State on Sept. 18, 2021, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Jay Norvell summed up his Nevada Wolf Pack’s 34-32 heartbreaking loss at Fresno State late Saturday night with a bit of coaching philosophy.
“Sometimes you get the bull and sometimes the bull gets you,” Norvell said. “We’ve got to keep our heads up.”
And keep their feet down. The Wolf Pack nearly tied the Bulldogs with two seconds to play but wide receiver Romeo Doubs’ two feet came down out of bounds behind the end zone on an attempted two-point conversion pass from quarterback Carson Strong. That’s how close the Wolf Pack and Bulldogs were in front of a crowd of 33,012 at Bulldog Stadium.
“I guess if you want to watch a game until the last second, just come watch us play, right?” said Fresno State coach Kalen DeBoer, whose Bulldogs jumped up two spots this week to No. 2 in the latest Nevada Appeal Mountain West football rankings. The Wolf Pack, ranked No. 1 last week, fell to No. 3.
“All our goals are still ahead of us,” Norvell said. “This one is going to hurt us but we just got to shake it off.”
The two teams combined for 984 yards of offense. Strong was 49-of-61 for 476 yards and four touchdowns while Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener was 26-of-38 for 256 yards and two scores.
The completions, attempts and yards are all career highs for Strong. The 49 completions are a Wolf Pack school record (Chris Vargas completed 43 against McNeese state in 1992). Doubs equaled a school record with 19 catches (203 yards and a touchdown). Nevada’s Nate Burleson also had 19 catches against UTEP in 2002.
“Just trying to find a way to get off the field was hard at times,” DeBoer said.
The field, luckily for Fresno State, was about two feet too short for Doubs, otherwise the Pack and Bulldogs might still be on that field.
“That was probably not the way you want to draw it up at the end but we got the stop,” said DeBoer of Doubs’ feet landing out of bounds.
No. 1 San Diego State got past No. 4 Air Force, 20-14, despite piling up just 10 first downs and 229 total yards on offense.
The Aztecs (7-0) are the only Mountain West team with fewer than two losses. Air Force had 192 yards rushing on 48 carries but was averaging 335 yards on the ground going into the game.
“Our coaches just made it simple for us and just let us play our game,” San Diego State linebacker Michael Shawcroft said. “It was just, ‘See ball, get ball.”’
Utah State moved up a spot to No. 6 by beating No. 9 Colorado State, 26-24. Connor Coles of Utah State had four field goals and Derek Wright caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Logan Bonner as the Aggies took the Mountain Division lead at 3-1.
Colorado State, which dropped four spots from No. 5, fell to 2-1 in league play despite getting eight sacks. The Rams’ David Bailey also rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.
No. 7 Hawaii outscored New Mexico State 48-34 in a non-conference game as freshman quarterback Brayden Schager, starting his third game for an injured Chevan Cordeiro, completed 25-of-29 passes for 219 yards without a touchdown. Dedrick Parson, playing for an injured Dae Dae Hunter, had 161 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
No. 8 San Jose State got past No. 12 UNLV, 27-20. UNLV, which has lost 13 games in a row (0-7 this year), led 17-3 in the second quarter. Nick Nash’s 15-yard touchdown run with seven minutes to play broke a 20-20 tie. The Rebels have now lost four games in a row by eight points or less.
Nash, who has started at quarterback for an injured Nick Starkel the past four games, passed for 213 yards and rushed for 121. Nash had just 99 yards rushing over his three previous games combined.
UNLV’s Cameron Friel, the first Rebels quarterback to play an entire game this season, was 20-of-28 for 240 yards and a touchdown but was also sacked five times. The Rebels will play at Nevada Friday night, the site of their last victory in the final game of the 2019 season.
No. 10 New Mexico beat No. 11 Wyoming 14-3 in front of 20,133 fans at Laramie, Wyo. Wyoming, which started the season with four non-conference victories, is 0-3 in Mountain West games.
The Cowboys have scored just 17 points in their three Mountain West losses combined and three points over their last two games (against Fresno state, New Mexico). Wyoming averaged 35 points a game in their four non-league wins over Northern Illinois, Connecticut, Ball State and Montana State.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Oct. 25 . . .
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (7-0, 3-0). Last week: San Diego State 20, Air Force 14. This week: Fresno State at San Diego State, Saturday.
2. FRESNO STATE (6-2, 3-1). Last week: Fresno State 34, Nevada 32. This week: Fresno State at San Diego State, Saturday.
3. NEVADA (5-2, 2-1). Last week: Fresno State 34, Nevada 32. This week: UNLV at Nevada, Friday.
4. AIR FORCE (6-2, 3-2). Last week: San Diego State 20, Air Force 14. This week: Bye.
5. BOISE STATE (3-4, 1-2). Last week: Bye. This week: Boise State at Colorado State, Saturday.
6. UTAH STATE (5-2, 3-1). Last week: Utah State 26, Colorado State 24. This week: Hawaii at Utah State, Saturday.
7. HAWAII (4-4, 1-2). Last week: Hawaii 48, New Mexico State 34. This week: Hawaii at Utah State, Saturday.
8. SAN JOSE STATE (4-4, 2-2). Last week: San Jose State 27, UNLV 20. This week: Wyoming at San Jose State, Saturday.
9. COLORADO STATE (3-4, 2-1). Last week: Utah State 26, Colorado State 24. This week: Boise State at Colorado State, Saturday.
10. NEW MEXICO (3-5, 1-3). Last week: New Mexico 14, Wyoming 3. This week: Bye.
11. WYOMING (4-3, 0-3). Last week: New Mexico 14, Wyoming 3. This week: Wyoming at San Jose State, Saturday.
12. UNLV (0-7, 0-3). Last week: San Jose State 27, UNLV 20. This week: UNLV at Nevada, Friday.