JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Nevada's Nichiren Flowers hauled in a pass ahead of UCF's Ronnell Sandy during the first half yesterday at Aloha Stadium.
Wolf Pack arrive
Nevada wins its first bowl game under coach Chris Ault in an overtime thriller
Nevada and UCF proved you can take Hawaii out of the Hawaii Bowl and still play an entertaining football game. Make that a very, very entertaining football game.
The Wolf Pack (9-3) and Golden Knights (8-5) battled for 4 hours and 5 minutes, with a missed extra point in overtime the only difference as Nevada won 49-48.
"I was in shock, like I almost didn't believe it," Nevada running back Robert Hubbard said. "When I wake up tomorrow and see it on ESPN, then I'll realize we won."
Hubbard and B.J. Mitchell powered a Wolf Pack running game that generated 369 yards and six touchdowns. Mitchell got 178 of the yards and two of the TDs while picking up the Nevada MVP award. Hubbard rushed for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
Nevada led 42-32 with 3:18 left, but UCF tied it with a 46-yard field goal by Matt Prater -- the kicker who would later miss the extra point -- and Brandon Marshall's third touchdown reception, after a successful UCF onside kick.
Wolf Pack quarterback Jeff Rowe got the eventual game-winning TD, a 4-yard naked bootleg run in overtime, and Brett Jaekle's extra-point provided the difference.
UCF's Kevin Smith -- who rushed for a Hawaii Bowl record 202 yards -- then sliced for a 19-yard TD, and the Golden Knights lined up for a point-after that would've sent the game into a second overtime.
But Prater, who also made field goals of 47 and 38 yards earlier, missed the PAT by 2 feet to the right.
"This game is more about what we had to do to get to overtime," UCF coach George O'Leary said, refusing to blame Prater for the loss. "Football's a team game. It's the ultimate team game."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Nevada assistant coach Scott Baumgartner hugged receiver Caleb Spencer, a Kamehameha grad, after last night's victory.
The Nevada players celebrated the school's first bowl win under veteran coach Chris Ault.
UCF, in its first bowl game in school history, lost despite Smith's performance and a Hawaii Bowl record 210 yards by Marshall.
"I don't know what to say, other than I wanted to go out with a win," Marshall said.
Marshall and Nevada's Caleb Spencer, a Kamehameha graduate, also tied the record set by Hawaii's Jason Rivers in 2003 of 11 receptions. Spencer's catches went for 114 yards.
"It was almost like a basketball game," Spencer said. "You're coming from behind, then you kind of slack off, then you go up by 10, then next thing you know they're up by a little bit. You're sweating so much in there. It's back and forth, so it's sort of like a basketball game."
And the Warrior-less (UH did not qualify for the Hawaii Bowl for the first time in the game's four-year existence) attendance wasn't as bad as some had feared. Game officials announced a turnstile count of 16,134 that seemed somewhat inflated, but a gathering of at least 10,000 sprinkled throughout Aloha Stadium enjoyed a thriller from start to finish.
UCF used big plays to take a 14-0 lead less than 6 minutes into the game.
Steven Moffett hit Marshall for a 51-yard touchdown on the fourth play from scrimmage, and Smith broke off a 78-yard scoring run on the next possession.
"I just wish we had him for another year," O'Leary said of Marshall.
Nevada closed it to 14-7 when Mitchell rambled 59 yards, and Hubbard covered the final 4 on the next play.
Prater made a 47-yard field goal for the Golden Knights, but the Wolf Pack scored 21 points before Prater converted again from 38 yards, and Nevada led 28-20 at halftime.
WAC offensive player of the year Mitchell scored on two 1-yard runs, and Hubbard went 24 to expand the lead to 28-17.
Moffett found Marshall again, this time for a 29-yard touchdown, and UCF closed to 28-26 at 8:19 of the third quarter. A 2-point conversion pass try failed.
The Golden Knights regained the lead when Smith drove through the goal line on a 3-yard run at 1:51 of the third.
Marshall victimized Wolf Pack freshman cornerback De'Angelo Wilson for his first touchdown, but Wilson came back with a big interception in the fourth quarter to thwart a UCF drive. Wilson played instead of senior Kevin Stanley, who was sent back to Reno on Thursday after it was found he was academically ineligible.
"I had to step up and do what I could do to help win the game," Wilson said. "Kevin's a big part of our team. We really needed him. I didn't expect a game like this. (UCF) came out and played great."
Nevada 49, Central Florida 48, OT
UCF--Marshall 51 pass from Moffett (Prater kick), 13:20.
UCF--Ke.Smith 78 run (Prater kick), 9:24.
Nev--R.Hubbard 4 run (Jaekle kick), 8:33.
UCF--FG Prater 47, 4:08.
Nev--Mitchell 1 run (Jaekle kick), 11:32.
Nev--Mitchell 1 run (Jaekle kick), 7:37.
Nev--R.Hubbard 24 run (Jaekle kick), 5:01.
UCF--FG Prater 38, :56.
UCF--Marshall 29 pass from Moffett (pass failed), 8:19.
UCF--Ke.Smith 3 run (pass failed), 1:51.
Nev--R.Hubbard 5 run (Jaekle kick), 13:02.
Nev--Branzell 7 pass from Rowe (Jaekle kick), 3:18.
UCF--FG Prater 46, 1:32.
UCF--Marshall 16 pass from Moffett (Prater kick), :55.
Nev--Rowe 4 run (Jaekle kick).
UCF--Ke.Smith 19 run (kick failed).
|Time of Possession
RUSHING--Nevada, Mitchell 23-178, R.Hubbard 15-126, Rowe 13-65. Central Florida, Ke.Smith 29-202, Peters 9-44, Moffett 6-8.
PASSING--Nevada, Rowe 22-32-1-254. Central Florida, Moffett 19-36-1-301.
RECEIVING--Nevada, Spencer 11-114, Flowers 6-96, Pudewell 2-23, Sammons 1-8, Branzell 1-7, R.Hubbard 1-6. Central Florida, Marshall 11-210, D.Johnson 3-49, Peters 2-14, Ross 1-14, K.Jackson 1-12, Ke.Smith 1-2.