Mountain West notebook: 4th-quarter meltdown dooms Pack

Nevada head coach Jay Norvell talks to officials during the second half against Kansas State on Sept. 18, 2021, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Nevada head coach Jay Norvell talks to officials during the second half against Kansas State on Sept. 18, 2021, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The Nevada Wolf Pack simply wilted in the Sunflower State this past Saturday.
The Pack found itself tied with the Kansas State Wildcats (17-17) in the third quarter but then suffered its biggest fourth-quarter in eight years in a 38-17 loss.
“The guys started playing with confidence and I think that started to wear them (Nevada) down,” Kansas State coach Chris Klieman said.
The Wolf Pack allowed 21 points in the fourth quarter for the first time since it also allowed 21 in the final 15 minutes in a 58-20 loss at UCLA on Aug. 31, 2013.
“We have to play complementary football,” Pack coach Jay Norvell said. “We didn’t do that as a team.”
Norvell’s Wolf Pack had allowed just three points combined in the fourth quarter this season in a 22-17 win at California and a 49-10 win over Idaho State at Mackay Stadium.
The 21 points scored by Kansas State on Saturday is the most a Norvell-coached Nevada team has allowed in the fourth quarter (since the start of the 2017 season). The previous high was 18 by Wyoming in the fourth quarter of the first game of the 2020 season.
Norvell’s Wolf Pack has shut out the opposition in the fourth quarter 18 times over his 50 games as coach. It has allowed nine points or fewer in the fourth quarter in 39 of those 50 games.
The loss at UCLA was in the first game of Brian Polian’s Wolf Pack coaching career. The Wolf Pack also allowed 21 points in the fourth quarter to Arizona at the end of the 2012 season in Chris Ault’s final game as Nevada head coach. Ault’s Pack also allowed 21 in the final 15 minutes to Utah State in 2010, Colorado State in 2005 and at Tulsa in 2004.
The last time the Pack has allowed more than 21 points in the fourth quarter was 28 against UNLV in 2004, also under Ault.

RUN GAME WOES: There was no secret why the Wolf Pack lost by three touchdowns on Saturday for its largest loss since a 31-3 loss at Wyoming on Oct. 26, 2019.
The Pack couldn’t run the ball against Kansas State and it couldn’t stop the run. Kansas State outgained the Pack on the ground, 269-25.
It was the Wolf Pack’s fewest rushing yards in the Norvell era. The only other times the Pack has rushed for fewer than 50 yards in a game under Norvell was against San Diego State (34 in 2017, 29 in 2019), Washington State (46 in 2017), Ohio (29 in 2019) and Vanderbilt (34 in 2018).
Kansas State’s 269 rushing yards are the fourth most rushing yards allowed by the Pack in the Norvell era, behind just Air Force (550 in 2017), San Diego State (289 in 2017) and Ohio (285 in 2019).
Norvell’s Pack teams since 2017 have allowed 200 or more rushing yards in a game 14 times and have lost 12 of those games.
“Nevada did a nice job (stopping Kansas State’s run early in the third quarter) but we made an adjustment to shore that up and get it blocked again and then it was just, ‘Keep handing the thing off,’’ Klieman said, “because we knew we could cut them off.”
Klieman said stopping the Pack run was critical. “That’s a great offensive football team,” Klieman said of Nevada. “The quarterback (Carson Strong) is a dynamite player. The wide receiver number 7 (Romeo Doubs) is a great player. We talked before the game about how we needed to make them one dimensional and that was a key.”

UNLV QUARTERBACK PROBLEMS: The UNLV Rebels are 0-3 this season and have scored just 13 points in their last two losses combined, a 37-10 loss at Arizona State on Sept. 11 and 48-3 this past Saturday at home to Iowa State.
UNLV has played four quarterbacks (Doug Brumfield, Cameron Friel, Justin Rogers, Tate Martell) already this season but the four are still looking for their first touchdown pass. UNLV’s four quarterbacks have also combined to complete just 29-of-61 passes for 301 yards with two interceptions.
“We’ve got to find a way to be efficient and not turn the ball over,” UNLV head coach Marcus Arroyo said.
Arroyo, now 0-9 as the Rebels head coach, is confident he can find a capable quarterback this season.
“The quarterback position is going to be one, as we try to get healthy there, that helps us,” he said.
Martell made his UNLV debut in the loss to Iowa State and completed 2-of-6 passes for 27 yards. Martell, who has also been a member of the football programs at Ohio State (2018) and Miami (2019), sat out last season before transferring to UNLV.
He was 43-0 as the starter at Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, throwing for 7,507 yards and 113 touchdowns and rushing for 2,294 yards and 35 touchdowns. The 23-year-old was 23-of-28 for 269 yards for Ohio State in 2018 and 1-of-1 for seven yards for Miami in 2019.

BOISE STATE BLOWING LEADS: The Boise State Broncos led Central Florida 21-0 on Sept. 2 and Oklahoma State 20-7 on Saturday and ended up losing both games.
The Broncos were outscored 22-7 in the second half of the 36-31 loss at Central Florida and then did not score in the second half of the 21-20 loss (the score at halftime) to Oklahoma State at home.
“We have to do a better job as coaches to start creating the mechanisms that help us to be able to finish these games at the end,” Boise State rookie head coach Andy Avalos said.

FAMILIAR FACE HURTS BOISE: Former Utah State running back Jaylen Warren keyed Oklahoma State’s victory over Boise State.
Warren ran the ball 32 times for 218 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos, scoring on runs of 75 and six yards.
Warren transferred to Oklahoma State after last season. He ran for 252 yards and three touchdowns in just three games for Utah State in 2020, getting 89 yards and two touchdowns against Boise State and 27 yards on just seven carries against Nevada. Warren also ran for 569 yards and five touchdowns in 2019 for Utah State, getting 39 yards on eight carries against Boise State and 73 yards on 12 carries against Nevada.

UTAH STATE QUARTERBACK DECISION: The Utah State Aggies, which outlasted Air force 49-45 on Saturday, might have a quarterback controversy to deal with this week.
Starter Logan Bonner played well against Air Force, completing 21-of-34 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Bonner, though, injured his back in the third quarter and was replaced by Andrew Peasley who turned a 31-20 deficit into a 34-31 lead with two touchdown passes, 37 yards to Brandon Bowling and five yards to tight end Carson Terrell.
Bonner then returned to the game late in the third quarter but was lifted for Peasley after throwing an interception early in the fourth quarter. Peasley then tossed a 72-yard touchdown pass to Deven Thompkins to cut Air Force’s lead to 45-42 and guided the Aggies on an 85-yard, six-play drive (61 of those yards came on Calvin Tyler’s scoring run) to win the game.
Peasley completed 10-of-15 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.
“You don’t want it to happen but when (Bonner) went down Coach (Blake Anderson) talked to me and just said, ‘Just go out there and execute and do your job,’ and that’s what I did,” Peasley said.


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