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Nevada Wolf Pack Notebook: Lots of hugs for Pack’s Anthony Martinez

JOE SANTORO
For the Nevada Appeal

RENO – Anthony Martinez tried not to think too much last Friday night.

“When I was warming up I just tried to think of it like it was just another kick,” the Nevada Wolf Pack kicker said Monday of his 34-yard game-winning field goal in overtime that beat the Boise State Broncos, 34-31.

“The celebration was great,” Martinez said. “But when I went out there I just tried to put all of those things out of my mind.”

Martinez, who helped the McQueen Lancers win the 2008 Class 4A Nevada state high school championship at Mackay Stadium, said he’s never had a bigger kick than the one on Friday night.

“I had some big ones but nothing like that,” he smiled.

“He was calm and cool,” Pack coach Chris Ault said. “The snap, the hold, the blocking were all great. The timing was ideal on that kick.”

The 20-year-old red-shirt freshman also kicked a 23-yard field goal to tie the game on Friday at 24-24 early in the fourth quarter. His 35-yarder in the third quarter, though, was blocked.

“We didn’t block anyone on that one,” Ault said.

Martinez prepared all week like the game would come down to his leg.

“Everyday in practice my teammates were telling me it might come down to a field goal,” Martinez said. “I just tried to be ready.”

Martinez got his chance to be a hero after Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed a 26-yard field goal to win the game with two seconds remaining in regulation and a 29-yarder on Boise’s only possession in overtime.

“I feel for him,” Martinez said. “He’s such a great kicker and he’s had a great career. As a senior, you never want to go out like that. That’s tough.”

Martinez had not made a successful field goal since he drilled a 29-yarder against UNLV on Oct. 2. He had only attempted three field goals over the previous five games before last Friday night, missing a 25-yarder against San Jose State on Oct. 9 and a 31-yarder and a 29-yarder against Idaho on Nov. 6.

“During the Idaho game, I kind of felt like he (Brotzman) felt,” the 5-foot-6 Martinez said.

Martinez said having to kick such a pressure field goal like Brotzman was faced with at the end of regulation is tough on the road.

“I had the advantage of having the home crowd with me,” he said.

Brotzman also had to contend with a timeout before his kick at the end of regulation while the play that set up his possible game-winner (a 53-yard pass to Titus Young down to the Nevada 9-yard line) was being reviewed by the officials.

“He had plenty of time to think about it,” Martinez said.

Boise State, though, did not call a timeout before Martinez attempted his 34-yard game-winning kick in overtime.

“I guess that helped,” he said. “I don’t know. I didn’t even realize they didn’t call a timeout until now.”

Martinez’s game-winning field goal will no doubt be remembered as one of the biggest in school history.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had so many strangers come up and hug me,” he said.

MATTHEWS WINS NATIONAL AWARDS

Rishard Matthews’ performance against Boise State last Friday night earned him two national player of the week honors. The junior wide receiver wasn’t impressive enough, apparently, to win his own conference’s player of the week honor.

Matthews caught 10 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for a 44-yard touchdown on an end-around as the Wolf Pack stunned Boise State at Mackay Stadium.

His effort earned him the Rivals.com National Player of the Week award and the Walter Camp Football Foundation Offensive Player of the Week award.

“Those awards are great,” Matthews said on Monday. “That’s exciting. But right now all of our focus is on our next game (Saturday at Louisiana Tech).”

Matthews’ 10-catch, two-touchdown evening, though, wasn’t good enough to earn him the Western Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week award on Monday. That honor went to Hawaii running back Alex Green, who rushed for a school-record 327 yards and three touchdowns in a 59-24 victory over New Mexico State.

Matthews, though, definitely earned his teammates’ respect.

“He’s an amazing player, a special player physically,” Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “It’s great that we were able to utilize him the way we wanted to.”

WOLF PACK EARNS TEAM HONOR

The Wolf Pack was named on Monday as the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week for its victory over Boise State.

The award has been voted on by the Football Writers Association of America since 2002.

Boise State won the award the first week of this season after beating Virginia Tech.

The Wolf Pack won the award this week over Auburn, which rallied to beat Alabama, 28-27, and SMU, which beat East Carolina, 45-38, to win the Conference USA championship.