RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Nevada claimed its biggest victory in a
decade, a 31-28 upset of Brigham Young (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today), but may have lost one of
its best running backs ever for the rest of the season.
Zack Threadgill passed for 410 yards and four first-half
touchdowns then the Wolf Pack defense withstood a late rally to
send hundreds of Mackay Stadium fans onto the field celebrating
their greatest win since Nevada moved up from Division I-AA to I-A
"It's the biggest win since I've been here,'' said coach Chris
Tormey, in his third year of rebuilding a Nevada program that
hasn't had a winning season since 1998.
"I think we'll look back two or three years from now and we'll
look at this game and say to ourselves, 'That was the day that we
turned it around. That was the day our players started to believe
and know that they could win.' ''
Nate Burleson caught 12 passes for 215 yards, including a
95-yard scoring play early, to help Nevada (1-1) to the win despite
the loss of star running back Chance Kretschmer to a knee injury
after a late hit out of bounds on his first carry of the game.
Tormey fears it could be the last they see this year of the
former calf roper from Tonopah, who led the NCAA in rushing last
year with 1,732, the first freshman to do so since Marshall Faulk
at San Diego State in 1991.
"Chance is going to be out indefinitely with the knee strain,''
"It could be serious ... It doesn't look good.''
Freshman quarterback Lance Pendleton moved BYU (2-1) with seven
completions on its final drive, but time expired with the Cougars
at Nevada's 32.
Threadgill, who was 28-of-37 with one interception, led Nevada
to two touchdowns in the last 48 seconds of the second quarter for
a 31-14 halftime lead.
"Right at the end of the half was huge, huge,'' said BYU Coach
Gary Crowton, who was impressed with Nevada's play.
"They're playing at home. They have a veteran team. They are
very poised, very confident. He's a good coach. This is his third
year with the team. They're only going to get better.''
Pendleton came off the bench to lead the Cougars to a pair of
third quarter touchdowns, a 30-yard TD run by Marcus Whalen and
then a 9-yard scoring pass to Gabriel Reid to cut the margin to
31-28 at 4:09 in the third.
But neither team scored in the final quarter and Threadgill
teamed up with Burleson on a key drive late that pinned BYU deep in
its own territory with 2:18 left after the Wolf Pack was stopped on
fourth-and-goal from the 2.
"I kept telling the guys we had to work the clock and keep
their offense off the field,'' Threadgill said.
"Unfortunately, we didn't get in the end zone, but our defense
came up big and did their job,'' he said.
Freshman Matt Milton rushed 21 times for 93 yards for Nevada.
Marcus Whalen led BYU with 14 carries for 135 yards. Bret Engemann
completed only 6-of-16 attempts for 80 yards, while Pendleton hit
13-of-20 for 112 yards in the second half.
"I told them to keep their heads up, work hard and move
forward,'' Crowton said after the game. "I feel like we'll come
back and work hard like we do.''
The Wolf Pack opened a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter when
Burleson took a swing pass from Threadgill at his own 5 and --
thanks to a key block from Tim Fleming -- ran down the sideline to
the end zone.
"I got a great block and I wasn't going to get caught,'' said
Burleson, who credited Threadgill with calling an audible to change
the draw play that had been planned.
The senior quarterback said he knew Burleson would get free for
a first down in that type defensive coverage.
"He ended up doing a whole lot more. That's what's so special
about Nate. Any time the ball touches his hands, he's a threat to
score a touchdown,'' he said.
Engemann's 31-yard TD pass to Rodney Wilkerson made it 10-7
early in the second quarter, but Threadgill countered with a
16-yard scoring toss to Dan Bythwood to go ahead 17-7.
BYU defensive tackle Brady Poppinga, who had two early
quarterback sacks, forced a Matt Milton fumble that Shaun Nua
recovered to set up Reno Mahe's 4-yard TD run to make it 17-14 6:59
before the half.
But Threadgill kept a drive alive with an 18-yard pass over the
middle to tight end Erick Streelman on fourth down, and hit him
with a 13 yard TD for a 24-14 lead at 0:48. Two plays later, Ronnie
Hardiman intercepted Engemann's pass at midfield and returned it 20
yards before Threadgill passed 25 yards to Burleson and threw a
9-yard TD to Fleming for the 31-14 halftime advantage.
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