BOISE, Idaho (AP)Carson Strong threw for 263 yards and a touchdown, Toa Taua rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns and Nevada defeated Boise State 41-31 on Saturday.
Nevada (4-1, 1-0), the pre-season favorite to win the Mountain West Conference’s West division, snapped a six-game losing streak to the Broncos, dating back to 2010. Nevada last won in Boise in 1997.
While Nevada coach Jay Norvell was all smiles after the game, he didn’t seem surprised at the result. He was more ecstatic about the way his team won rather than breaking a long losing streak.
”This is the first game this season where we’ve really complemented each other,” Norvell said. ”When the defense made a big play, the offense scored, and vice versa. That’s the style of football we like to play – physical and hard, fearless. That’s what we want, and now we want to build on that.”
Boise State (2-3, 1-1) is off to its slowest start since 2001 when it also started 2-3 before finishing the season 8-4. It’s also the first time since 2015 the Broncos have lost consecutive home games.
”We all know what the standard is here, and that’s not it,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. ”We’ve got to re-establish this standard within our foundation with No. 1, how we take care of the ball and how do we operate when we come out in the second half. We’ve got to take a deep dive and examine what it is.”
Trailing 21-20 at halftime, Nevada’s defense needed just one play to flip the game at the start of the third quarter.
Tristan Nichols forced a fumble with a blindside hit on Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier. Five plays later, Toa rumbled into the end zone from 12 yards out. After adding the two-point conversion, Nevada took a 28-21 lead and never looked back.
Taua, who was held to 16 yards on six carries in Nevada’s previous game against Kansas State, rebounded with his best game of the season as the Wolfpack dominated Boise State in the trenches. Taua also added seven receptions for 44 yards.
Bachmeier passed for 388 yards and four touchdowns, but his two turnovers- one interception and one fumble – proved to be costly.
Nevada: While the Wolf Pack have plenty of challenges ahead, they kept themselves squarely in the race for the west division title and a spot in the conference championship game. The combination of Strong and Taua should give Nevada a chance in the rest of its matchups this season.
Boise State: The Broncos don’t have the margin of error that they’ve had in the past due to a combination of the Mountain West teams catching up with them talent wise and also being in a transition season with a new coach. In all three losses this season, the Broncos held the lead in the first half only to collapse. If Boise State has any hopes of salvaging its season, it needs more consistent play on both sides of the ball.
In preparation for this week’s game, Norvell opened Monday’s practice by showing his team the video of Justin Tuck’s NFL record 66-yard field goal on Sunday.
”I told the team, `How do you do something that’s never been done before? It’s just your commitment, your commitment to the craft. You keep working at it, and try to do your very best.’ And that’s what we’re trying to do here.”
The team responded to Norvell’s inspirational talk by playing its best game of the season, then finishing the week by celebrating in Boise with a rousing chorus of ”When the Saints Go Marching in” echoing beneath the stands outside their locker room after the game.
Nevada hosts New Mexico State on Saturday.
Boise State travels to BYU on Saturday.
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