Nevada’s freshman placekicker Anthony Martinez knocked a 34-yard field goal through the uprights in overtime to give Nevada a thrilling 34-31 triumph over Boise State.
“It's really difficult to talk about with so many emotions right now,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said. “For these players to hang in there against such a great football team — the way they did it to win. I can’t describe it. I'm at a loss for words. I'm just so proud of this team.”
The loss snapped Boise State’s 24-game winning streak, which was the longest in the country. It was Nevada’s first win over its WAC rival since 1998, a span of 11 games.
Boise State placekicker Kyle Brotzman, the school’s all-time leading scorer, got stuck playing the role of the goat after missing a 26-yard field goal on the final play of regulation and a 29 yarder in overtime.
Boise State (10-1, 6-1) found its only offense of the second half when tailback Doug Martin hauled in a short pass from Moore and outran the Nevada defense 79 yards for a go-ahead touchdown and a 31-24 lead with 4:53 left in the fourth quarter.
The Wolf Pack (11-1, 6-1) used nearly all of that remaining time to go 79 yards for a game-tying score. Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick found Rishard Matthews from 7 yards out for a touchdown on a second-and-goal play. The game-tying score knotted the contest at 31-31 with 13 ticks left in regulation.
That left Boise State just enough time for what looked like an upset-spoiling score. Broncos all-American quarterback candidate, Kellen Moore, hit Titus Young streaking down the middle for a 53-yard bomb down to the Nevada 9. The Broncos got a timeout called before time expired, leaving two seconds to go and giving the BSU club time for Brotzman’s 26-yard field goal try. Unfortunately for the Broncos and their fans, his try sailed just wide to the right, leaving the tie intact and forcing overtime.
“One play can never lose a game,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “I told them one play can win a game but one play cannot lose a game. Nevada made more plans than us. We had a chance to win it. When you play two evenly matched teams it usually comes down to a couple of plays. It's tough. We had chances to make other plays. It probably shouldn't have come down to that. I tip my hat to Nevada .
”When you are playing a good team, there's going to be momentum swings. It seems like everytime we play Nevada we have that. They got momentum. Then at the end we got it back, but couldn't make a play.”
After Boise State’s overtime drive stalled at the 12-yard line, Brotzman then proceeded to miss his second short kick. That allowed Nevada to get conservative with its play calling on its overtime possession and set up Martinez for the winning kick.
Boise State, which was spotted a 17-0 lead through the first 25 minutes of action, led 24-7 late in the third quarter before Nevada started back on the comeback trail.
“To be down that far, to know we weren't going to give up, all those things you believe as a coach and it happens,” Ault said. “We never lost hope. The way they went about their business on the sideline, we never lost hope ...and found a way to win. It is the greatest victory this university has ever had. I can tell you that. I wasn't here in 1898, but I can tell you this one was. The way it happened is just an unbelievable feeling.
“They've got a chance to be champions. To beat a team of that caliber is pretty special to me personally.”
Nevada forced a Broncos punt and got possession at its 42. Nine plays later, Kaepernick broke free on a scramble for an 18-yard scoring scamper and the Wolf Pack was still in contention, trailing 24-14 with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
Nevada inched closer on its next possession. The Wolf Pack pulled within three, 24-21, when Matthews evaded a pair of tacklers and ran through another, bolting 44 yards for a touchdown on a reverse, leaving 13:01 in the final quarter. The big play capped a five-play, 68-yard march.
Matthews had a huge night for Nevada . He caught 10 balls for 172 yards and had that key touchdown run.
Boise State, which did not punt in the first half, was forced into its fourth straight of the second half. A pooch punt by Moore pinned Nevada at its own 7 but on the first play Nevada running back Vai Taua got free for a 26-yard run. On the 15th play, Martinez knocked through a 23-yard field goal for the Wolf Pack that deadlocked the game at 24-24 with 5:14 remaining in the conference clash and capped a run of 17 unanswered Nevada points.
Taua racked up 134 yards rushing on 32 attempts.
The first half was all Boise State. It did look like Nevada might get on the scoreboard first. The Wolf Pack picked up a pair of first downs, including a 26-yard pass play, and drove to the Broncos’ 38. Kaepernick then fired a pass high that sailed through the outstretched hands of a Nevada receiver and was picked off in tip-toe acrobatic fashion on the sideline by BSU safety George Iloka.
Boise State took advantage and proceeded to go 67 yards on 11 plays, but the Nevada defense came away with a small victory. It forced the BSU offense off the field and got it to settle for a 33-yard Brotzman field goal that put the Broncos on top 3-0 at the 6:28 mark of the first quarter.
The Broncos went right to work their second possession an 87-yard drive, that used 13 plays, but did not stall short of the end zone. Martin shook off three tackles and rumbled across the goal line from four yards out for a touchdown that lifted the BSU gridders into a 10-0 lead with 12:38 to go in the second quarter.
Boise State began to get some separation when it scored on its third drive too. The guests needed just six plays and 2:21 to go 48 yards for a touchdown. Moore connected with Young from 26 yards out en route to grabbing a 17-0 lead with 5:47 to go before the break.
Nevada finally found some offense on the following possession. Kaepernick hit Matthews for a 47-yard gain on the first play of the drive. Two plays later, it looked like the Pack had a touchdown when Matthews pranced into the end from 23 yards out, but officials said he stepped out at the 5.
It mattered little. On the next play, Taua ran into the end zone and the Wolf Pack was on the scoreboard, down 17-7 with 4:20 to go in the second quarter. The touchdown was Taua’s 20th on the season, breaking the school’s single season record.
It didn’t take long for Boise State to answer, just three plays. Martin took a handoff and raced 51 yards to the end zone for his second score of the night, putting him over the century mark (125 yards) in rushing before halftime. That made the score 24-7 as the scoreboard read 2:59 left in the second quarter.
Martin finished the night with 152 yards on the ground on 24 carries. However, only 15 of those yards came in the final two quarters.
Moore finished his night with 348 yards through the air on 20-of-31 passing. Kaepernick completed 19-of-35 for 259 yards while also racking up 61 rushing yards on 10 carries.
“I thought our offensive front was just outstanding,” Ault said. “Our front wore them down in the second half. That defense is the best defense I've seen since I’ve been back and It’s a great offense. Our offense went toe to toe. I thought Kap was just very, very special tonight, showing why he is one of the greatest quarterbacks in the country.
”We could write a book. I came back into this thing (after the 2003 season) to build this thing back up to a championship deal. We have been very, very good, although sometimes our community doesn't realize it.
”We've got to make the jump like Boise did a few years ago.”
Nevada clinches a share of the WAC title with a win at Louisiana Tech next weekend.