Pack shows it can throw, too
MOSCOW, Idaho – Colin Kaepernick is best known as one of the most prolific running quarterbacks of all time.
The Nevada star can throw it around, too.
Kaepernick threw a career-high five touchdown passes and No. 25 Nevada piled up a team-record 844 yards of offense as the Wolf Pack beat Idaho 63-17 on Saturday.
“Everything was just clicking for us tonight,” said Kaepernick, who completed 20 of 30 passes for 320 yards and was not intercepted or sacked. He had thrown 12 touchdown passes in the previous eight games, and his career best in one game was four.
Kaepernick ranks fourth in career yards rushing by a quarterback with 3,677, including 771 yards this season coming into the game. But he barely ran on Saturday, as receivers for Nevada (8-1, 3-1 Western Athletic Conference) were wide open much of the game.
“I’m glad I don’t have to see him again,” Idaho coach Robb Akey said of the senior quarterback. “I told him that too.”
Idaho (4-5, 1-3), which came in averaging 30 points per game, suffered a second straight big defeat as the Vandals struggled to become bowl eligible for a second consecutive season. They lost 45-10 at Hawaii last weekend.
“I’m not going to wad up the season,” Akey said. “We could still have a bowl championship season.”
Nevada’s Rishard Matthews caught two touchdown passes, ran for a score, and had seven catches for 151 receiving yards. Brandon Wimberly caught six passes for 73 yards.
Nevada came in wanting to throw more, to balance out its offense, Matthews said.
The Wolf Pack also rushed for 453 yards on 57 carries. Mark Lampford gained 116 yards on just six carries, Vai Taua had 113 yards and Mike Ball had 101 yards in a mop-up roll. Taua went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and 4,000 for his career.
The Nevada record for total offense had been 794 yards against UNLV in 1993. The Wolf Pack’s outburst Saturday was the most yards gained by a major college team this season.
Nevada got the ball on its own 4 with less than a minute left in the half, leading 21-3 lead. Kaepernick threw seven consecutive passes, including a 45-yard diving catch by Matthews at the 2 with five seconds left. Matthews caught a touchdown pass on the next play as time expired for a 28-3 lead.
“When you go 96 yards in 46 seconds, that demoralizes a defense,” Kaepernick said.
The Vandals had given up just 21 total points in winning their first three games in the Kibbie Dome, but gave up more than that in the first half.
Nevada’s opening drive appeared in trouble when the Wolf Pack faced a third-and-17, but Kaepernick hit a wide-open Shane Anderson in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.
Kaepernick then connected with a streaking Matthews for a 53-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline and a 14-0 lead.
Because of a fumble on a kickoff return, Idaho did not run a play from scrimmage until just 6:45 was left in the first quarter, and they had just six offensive plays for 2 yards in the quarter. Nevada, meanwhile, had 225 yards.
Kaepernick found Malcolm Shepherd for a 6-yard touchdown pass in the opening seconds of the second quarter for a 21-0 lead.
Idaho finally put a drive together, going 71 yards before stalling at Nevada’s 14 and settling for a 31-yard field goal by Trey Farquhar with 5:31 left in the first half.
Then came Nevada’s drive in the final 46 seconds to make the score 28-3. Nevada piled up 421 yards of offense in the first half, averaging more than 8 yards per play, while holding Idaho to 96 yards.
Lampford Mark’s 57-yard run on Nevada’s first possession of the second half set up a 7-yard touchdown pass for Kaepernick to Virgil Green for a 35-3 lead. The touchdown enabled Kaepernick to tie Nevada’s career record of 78 touchdown passes set by Eric Beavers from 1983-86.
Nathan Enderle ran 12 yards for Idaho’s first touchdown in the third. He completed 15 of 34 passes for 224 yards. Idaho had just 68 rushing yards.
Matthews ran 7 yards for a Nevada touchdown, then Enderle threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Justin Veltung to cut Nevada’s lead to 42-17 with 2:47 left in the third. Ball scored twice and Tray Session once for Nevada in the fourth.
Nevada has won six straight over Idaho.