“This win was really big, just to prove that we can play on the road,” said Cody Fajardo. “No matter how bad of a game we played, to open up mountain west play with a win is huge for us. Anytime your 1-0 starting off the Mountain West Conference it's pretty good.”
San Jose State had all the momentum in the first five minutes of the game and the Wolf Pack could not get a grasp on its game plan. The Pack offense started out with a passing attack that failed and on the next possession they attempted the same strategy, and failed again.
To Nevada’s advantage, San Jose State was not playing at its best to start off the game so it allowed the Wolf Pack to gather themselves offensively.
It was not until Nevada went to the ground that the first points of the game got put on the board. Cody Fajardo led the first scoring drive finishing it off with 14-yard touchdown run putting Nevada on top of the Spartans 7-0.
The most consistent part of tonight’s game was the Nevada defense. For how quickly Nevada kept on getting off of the field offensively, the defense was put to the test early but stood strong. San Jose State kept on testing Nevada with repetitive middle and half back screens but the Pack did not budge until the last possession of the second quarter.
Nevada held the Spartans to only a field goal in that final possession and went into half time with a 7-3 lead.
The Spartans came out of the locker room ready to play and on the first possession of the second half they marched down the field. Tim Crawley of SJSU punched the ball into the end zone on a 24-yard run putting the Spartans up 10-7 in the first three minutes of the third quarter.
The Wolf Pack came out with the same offensive passing scheme in the third quarter as they did at the start of the game and the effects where merely the same. Another three and out after another had the Nevada defense looking exhausted.
It was not until the first drive of the fourth quarter where Nevada went back to a determined ground game and pushed the ball up the field on the legs of Don Jackson and Cody Fajardo.
Nevada went to the hurry up offense and that is where Jackson excelled. Jackson, who finished with 106 yards on 12 carries, had consecutive 15 yard runs to put the Wolf Pack in scoring position.
Fajardo put the Wolf Pack back up 14-10 with a 2-yard sprint into the end zone.
Holding on to just a 4 point lead in the 4th quarter and its offense sputtering, the Nevada defense stepped up and made the play of the game. San Jose State QB Joe Gray was flushed out of the pocket by the pass rush and tried to make a play to the sidelines, safety Nigel Haikins stepped in front of the pass and returned the interception 27 yards for Nevada's first defensive touchdown of the season to put the Wolf Pack up 21-10.
The Wolf Pack had 3 takes aways in this game that puts their turnover margin at +6 for the season. It's a big reason the Wolf Pack are 3-1.
The Spartans drove into field goal position in the closing minutes but SJSU placekicker Austin Lopez's 55-yard field goal sailed wide right.
“It was ugly but we found a way to win and to win on the road in a league game is a big deal."
On San Jose State's next possession, Nevada strong safety Duran Workman picked off Gray to close out the game.
Coach Polian was pragmatic in his post-game comments, “It was ugly but we found a way to win and to win on the road in a league game is a big deal. There’s obviously things we need to get improved but we talked to our team all night and sometimes one side of the ball is going to have to pick up the other and I felt clearly tonight the defense picked up the offense and that’s good for our team.”
Video: Post-Game Comments
Manny Vieites can be reached on twitter @manny_vieites