Hard fall back to earth for Nevada against Oregon

Oregon crushed Nevada 77-6 for the Wolf Pack’s first loss of the season. Quarterback Carson Strong is shown in a file photo against Purdue on Aug. 30. /Michael Smyth

Nevada football’s season opener magic didn’t carry over in a 77-6 blowout road loss to the No. 16 ranked Oregon Ducks on Saturday at Autzen Stadium. 

The Wolf Pack scored the first points of the game and trailed 7-6 with just under nine minutes left in the second quarter, but the Ducks took over the rest of the way with 63 unanswered points over the remainder of the first half and final two quarters. 

Oregon rattled off 623 total yards and held a commanding lead the rest of the way. The Ducks attacked Nevada’s 3-3-5 zone defense early with a dominant air attack from the arm of senior quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Justin Herbert. 

Herbert completed 19-of-25 passes for 310 yards and five touchdowns. He shredded the Pack’s zone defense with pinpoint darts down the sidelines. His composure was on full display, stepping up in the pocket while keeping his eyes down field and going through his progressions. 

Backup quarterback Tyler Shough took over midway through the third quarter and kept stacking the points in Oregon’s favor. The redshirt freshman had 89 passing yards and two touchdowns. 

Running back Darrian Felix had 80 rushing yards and one touchdown on eight carries. Ten different players scored for Oregon. 

The Ducks’ vicious defensive front held Nevada to just 192 total yards. Carson Strong completed 13-of-25 passes for 89 yards and two interceptions. Jaxson Kincaide led the team with 52 rushing yards on 13 attempts. Junior running back Kelton Moore added 36 rushing yards. Sophomore halfback Toa Taua was held to 13 yards on just six attempts. 

Freshman kicker Brandon Talton — who nailed the game-winning field goal over Purdue on Aug. 30 — was a perfect 2-for-2 on his field goal attempts with a long of 45 yards. 

Oregon’s pass rush forced Strong out of the pocket early and often, which lead to errant throws to safety Steven Stephens and linebacker Sampson Niu.  Nevada backup signal caller Hamish McClure came in for Strong late in the third quarter and completed all three of his passes for 20 yards. 

The Wolf Pack trailed 7-3 after the first quarter. Oregon took over the rest of the way, scoring 28 points in the second quarter to Nevada’s final field goal of the game. The Ducks tallied 28 points in the third with three-straight touchdown passes from Herbert. Oregon tacked on two more touchdowns in the final quarter. 

Nevada, 1-1, returns to Mackay Stadium to face Weber State on Saturday, Sept. 14, at 4 p.m.

— Isaiah Burrows

About Isaiah Burrows

Tahoe Onstage sportswriter Isaiah Burrows also is a general assignment reporter for CarsonNow.org, an online news source in Carson City. He is a journalism major at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he writes sports for the Sagebrush student newspaper. He is the Reno Aces beat writer for Tahoe Onstage.

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