Reagan Roberson bulldozed through one tackler and dove into the end zone on an 11-yard catch-and-run in overtime, lifting Nevada over Arkansas State 16-13 in the Arizona Bowl on Saturday.
Nevada (8-5) labored against Arkansas State’s defensive front all game before coming to life late, going up 10-7 on Devonte Lee’s 1-yard touchdown run with 1:06 left.
Arkansas State (8-5) racked up 499 yards, but was 1 for 5 in the red zone with two turnovers before marching quickly down the field at the end of regulation. Blake Grupe, who had one field goal blocked and badly missed on another, drilled a 32-yarder to tie it on the final play.
Grupe opened overtime with a 24-yard field goal, but Roberson bulled his way into the end zone to send the Wolf Pack rushing onto the field.
Nevada’s Ty Gangi had 200 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-34 passing with two interceptions.
Arkansas State’s Justice Hansen threw for 275 yards, but also had three interceptions — two in the end zone — after throwing six during the regular season. Warren Wand ran for 140 yards for the Red Wolves.
Nevada and Arkansas State came to the desert known for their prolific quarterbacks and high-scoring ways. Neither showed up in a stuck-in-the-mud first half.
Both quarterbacks airmailed receivers multiple times, including one by Hansen that was intercepted at the Wolf Pack 20.
Gangi opened 1 for 6 and hit a few passes after that, setting up Ramiz Ahmed’s 36-yard field goal. Nevada had 72 total yards at halftime, yet only trailed 7-3.
Hansen was a bit more effective despite the pick, setting up the Red Wolves for three scoring chances. They converted one: Marcel Murray’s 2-yard TD run.
The earlier field goal fiascos seemed to have an impact on play calling the opening drive the second half. Instead of attempting a field at fourth-and-goal from the 4, the Red Wolves tried a trick play. The Wolf Pack sniffed it out and stuffed offensive lineman Lanard Bonner after he caught a back pass from Hansen.
Arkansas State again had the ball inside Nevada’s 10 the next series after an interception, but the Wolf Pack intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone.
Next two series, same thing: Arkansas State interception, Nevada interception in the end zone.
Nevada’s offense came to life at just the right time to avoid ending the season with a loss to rival UNLV and a disappointing bowl performance.
Arkansas State will lament its lost offensive opportunities all offseason.
Arkansas State: Hansen is a senior, so the Red Wolves will need a new QB next season. They also have 14 players on their two-deep roster who are seniors.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack also will be searching for a new QB with Gangi in his final year of eligibility. They also have 14 seniors on the two-deep roster, most of their skill players on offense should be back.
Source: The Associated Press