Nevada tops Fresno State with Taua’s late-game score

Tahoe Onstage
Toa Taua’s goal line plunge helped Nevada steal a 35-28 win over Fresno State in the final seconds. Tahoe Onstage/Michael Smyth

Running back Toa Taua’s three-yard plunge with 12 seconds left lifted Nevada past Fresno State 35-28 on Saturday at Bulldog Stadium. 

With the game tied 28-28, Nevada forced a stop and ran in the score to cap-off a four-play Fresno State 25 yard line. Taua finished with a game-high 135 rushing yards with one touchdown on 20 carries. 

The Wolf Pack improved to 7-4 on the year. Nevada has one game left in the regular season against in-state rival UNLV on Nov. 30 at Mackay Stadium. 

The Pack’s balanced offensive attack them helped them pull away from the Bulldogs in a hard-fought battle. Nevada had 408 total yards of offense.  Redshirt freshman quarterback Carson Strong completed 20-of-31 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. 

Sophomore running back Devonte Lee finished with 77 rushing yards and one touchdown on four carries. Nevada rushed for 254 yards as a team. 

Wide receivers Romeo Doubs and Elijah Cooks were the primary targets out wide. Doubs hauled in six catches for 33 yards and two touchdowns. Cooks had five catches for 60 yards and one touchdown. 

Nevada held Fresno State’s potent rushing attack to just 53 yards on the ground. Bulldogs running back Ronnie Rivers — who came into the game with 757 rushing yards — was held to just 20 yards on seven carries. 

Fresno State quarterback Jorge Reyna attacked Nevada through the air with 261 passing yards and three touchdowns to one interception. 

Nevada opened the game with a 75-yard drive capped-off  by Cooks’ 29-yard touchdown reception. The Wolf Pack topped it off with another score to lead 14-7 at the end of the first quarter. 

The Bulldogs tied the game with a 17-yard touchdown to Keric Wheatfall in the second quarter.  Nevada’s second fumble of the game helped Fresno State take a 21-14 lead. Bradon Talton’s 50-yard field goal attempt fell just short, keeping the Bulldogs’ seven-point advantage intact at the half. 

Fresno State led 28-14 early in the third quarter with a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The Wolf Pack responded with Strong connecting to Doubs on a five-yard score, his second touchdown of the game . 

Nevada linebacker Lawson Hall intercepted Reyna at the Fresno State 31 yard line. The Pack took advantage with Lee’s 25-yard scamper to the end zone, tying the game 28-28 heading into the final quarter of play. 

Both defenses stood strong for much of the fourth quarter. The Wolf Pack defense forced three punts to give the offense good field position. Taua’s three-yard score secured the road win as Nevada heads back to Mackay Stadium.

The 7-4 Wolf Pack are bowl eligible. One more win against the UNVL Rebels can potentially secure its second-straight postseason appearance.

— 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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