Nevada loses heartbreaker to Hawaii
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Nevada coach Chris Ault tried not once, but twice to freeze Hawaii kicker Dan Kelly on a potential game-winning field goal with 15.8 seconds left in the game.
It didn’t work.
Kelly bombed a 45-yard field goal with 11.7 seconds left to give the 12th-ranked Warriors a 28-26 come-from-behind win over the Wolf Pack Friday night at Mackay Stadium.
The win snapped Hawaii’s three-game losing streak in Reno and gave the Warriors their 10th straight win, keeping their BCS hopes alive.
Hawaii trailed 26-25 with 2:11 left, and back-up quarterback Tyler Graunke, playing most of the way in place of Colt Brennan (concussion), engineered the final scoring drive by completing seven of 10 passes for 61 yards to get the ball down to the Nevada 27.
“He’s a gamer,” Hawaii coach June Jones said. “That’s why he’s here. He’s a competitive kid.”
Nevada scored on three of its first four drives in the second half to wipe out a nine-point halftime lead and take the aforementioned 26-25 lead.
Nevada scored on three drives (51, 52 and 90 yards) to take a 20-19 lead into the final quarter.
A 30-yard run by Luke Lippincott, who eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the fifth straight game (140 yards), set up a 41-yard Brett Jaekle to cut the lead to 19-13.
The Pack convrted a 90-yard drive on its next possession, including two fourth-down conversions, to set up a 3-yard scoring run by Kaepernick. The PAT made it 20-19.
A missed call by the officiating crew helped Hawaii re-take the lead 25-20. Davone Bess fumbled the ball at the 19, but the officials didn’t review the play. Graunke threw a 22-yard pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen for a score.
After an exchange of punts, Nevada drove 51 yards in three plays for the go-ahead score, a 5-yard run by Lippincott, which came on the heels of a 45-yard pass play from Kaepernick to Marko Mitchell.
Brennan? Hawaii don’t need no stinkin’ Colt Brennan to have success in the first half.
Brennan played two plays in the first half, completing two passes for 26 yards. Most of the half was turned over to Graunke, who completed 15 of 18 for 123 yards and a score. Graunke engineered three scoring drives, scoring himself on a 7-yard run.
Hawaii took the opening kickoff and kept the ball for 5 1/2 minutes before Nevada’s defense stepped up with a 14-yard sack of Tyler Graunke, forcing a 45-yard field goal by Kelly.
Hawaii used all three of its quarterbacks – Graunke, Brennan and Inoke Funaki – on the opening drive. Graunke completed three passes to Davone Bess for 32 yards.
Lippincott ran three straight times for 32 yards down to the Hawaii 39, but the drive bogged down shortly thereafter, and Kaepernick fumbled at the Hawaii 46 after being hit by John Fonoti. Joshua Leonard recovered for the Warriors.
Nevada’s defense held, but Tim Grasso’s 47-yard punt put Nevada in a hole at its own 3-yard line.
Four snaps later, David Velkune beat Nevada tackle Alonzo Durham and sacked Kaepernick in the back of the end zone for two points and a 5-0 lead with 3:18 left in the first quarter.
Hawaii started the ensuing possession at its own 36 and drove 64 yards on nine plays with Graunke lofting a 3-yard scoring pass to Jason Rivers. Kelly’s PAT made it 12-0.