Behind an offense that never reached the red zone in the first half, the Wolf Pack watched the Broncos race out to a 17-0 advantage at the halfway point of the contest. Nevada tried to fight its way back in the final 30 minutes, but a blown coverage in the secondary and a costly fumble at the goal line prevented a miracle similar to two seasons ago as the Pack dropped its regular season finale 27-21.
“We had our opportunities to win and we didn’t, against a good football team,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said. “You can’t make the mistakes that we made like the first play of theirs in the second half or the fumble in the end zone and expect to win the game. Those two were the critical difference makers in this football game.
“Against a team like Boise, you better convert and we didn’t offensively in the first half. Defensively we didn’t get off the field on third downs. We just didn’t get off the field. With a team like that that can control the ball, it cost us possessions.”
An exchange of punts started the contest, but Boise (10-2, 7-1 MWC) went to work with its second possession of the game. The Broncos capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 17-yard strike from quarterback Joe Southwick to receiver Chris Potter to make the score 7-0 at the 6:12 mark of the first quarter.
After an ensuing Wolf Pack turnover-on-downs killed a drive into Bronco territory, Boise stayed on the attack, adding to its lead with a 7-yard TD plunge by running back D.J. Harper to go ahead 14-0 a minute into the second quarter.
With the Nevada (7-5, 4-4) offense unable to generate much momentum and another drive stalling out, Boise added to its advantage with a 20-yard field goal by Michael Frisina for a 17-0 edge at halftime.
In the second half the Pack attempted to rally back, but the hole it had dug itself proved too large.
Nevada finally got on the scoreboard at the 11:08 mark of the third when running back Stefphon Jefferson took a 1-yard touchdown dive to bring the deficit to 17-7.
Immediately, the Broncos responded.
Taking its first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive, Southwick hit a wide-open Matt Miller for a 52-yard touchdown and a 24-7 advantage.
The Wolf Pack tried to answer with score of its own, but the mistakes that have infected it all year reared their heads again.
To follow, Nevada sustained a formidable drive and was on the brink of scoring again and turning the contest back into a two-score game. Standing on the 14-yard line, quarterback Cody Fajardo dropped back to pass and hit tight end Zach Sudfeld over the middle. Trying to make it to the end zone, Sudfeld reached for the goal line. As the tight end stretched for the score, a Boise defender knocked the ball out of his hands and into the end zone, where it was recovered for a touchback.
The Wolf Pack defense was able to force a punt and the offense marched to an 8-yard spurt by Jefferson, bringing the score to 24-14 with 8:26 left in the game.
Boise added a 30-yard Frisina field goal at the 3:25 mark to extend its lead, followed by a 6-yard option keep by Fajardo that brought the score to the final of 27-21.
“It’s another tale-of-two-halves type game and we just needed a little more time on the clock,” Nevada senior offensive tackle Jeff Nady said.
Nevada will now prepare for the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 15. It’s opponent is still undetermined.