No one questioned Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Wolf Pack's offensive skill set, but many wondered how their defense would fair against a strong rushing team like Boston College. The answer is very well.
The Wolf Pack allowed 183 total yards (64 rushing) and Kaepernick completed 20-of-33 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown as No. 15 Nevada bested Boston College 20-13 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Sunday night.
"We weren't able to run the ball, and when we had a couple of passes we had some drops," coach Frank Spaziani said. "We just didn't make any plays." (via ESPN Boston)
The Eagles, who averaged just under 19 points in 12 regular season games, were at times incapable of moving the ball on the offensive end. In total, BC ended nine drives with a punt and one with an interception.
"Our defense was huge tonight," Kaepernick said. "When we didn't make a play they did. For most of the night it was them making plays." (via ESPN Boston)
BC true freshman quarterback Chase Rettig completed 14-of-34 passes for 119 yards and two interceptions. Fellow true freshman Andre Williams rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries for the Eagles. Montel Harris, the Eagles' leading rusher, did not play despite being listed as the starting running back.
Vai Taua led Nevada's rushing attack, racking up 74 yards on 22 carries. Rishard Matthews paced the Wolf Pack receiving core, amassing 86 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. Tight end Virgil Green had 63 yards on four carries for the Wolf Pack.
"This will probably go down as the greatest football team to play the University of Nevada," coach Chris Ault said. "That's pretty special. I told these guys you're not only making a memory but you're leaving an indelible mark in the city of Reno and the University of Nevada." (via ESPN Boston)
Nevada (13-1) opened the game with a seven-play, 20 yard drive that resulted in a punt. Boston College (7-6) didn't fair much better on its opening drive, going three and out.
The Eagles caught a break on the third play of Nevada's ensuing drive when Kaepernick fumbled after a hit by Boston College senior linebacker Mark Herzlich. The ball was recovered by Donnie Fletcher, who returned it to the Wolf Pack 30 yard line.
BC wasted no time putting the ball in the end zone, as Williams rushed 30 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown on the first play of the drive, putting the Eagles up 7-0 with 8:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Undeterred by the early setback, Nevada turned the tables and scored on the ensuing drive. Kaepernick connected with Matthews for a 27-yard touchdown pass, tying the game at 7-7 with 3:40 left in the opening quarter. The drive spanned nearly five minutes and saw Nevada's offense move the ball 77 yards on 10 plays.
Matthews wasn't done yet, either. Matthews returned a 45-yard punt from BC's Ryan Quigley 72 yards for a touchdown, giving the Wolf Pack their first lead of the game, 14-7, with 2:27 left to play in the first.
Trailing for the first time, the Eagles couldn't get anything going for quite some time, punting the ball on their final four drives of the first half.
Fortunately, Boston College's defense was able to keep the Wolf Pack out of the end zone for the remainder of the first half. In the final 17:27 of the opening half, the Eagles only gave up three points on an Anthony Martinez 32-yard field goal with 5:48 left.
"We were just able to stay stout," linebacker Mark Herzlich said. "I talked about before the game that we needed to keep our responsibilities and not get fooled by the motions and fakes. We were able to do a pretty good job of that throughout the game with the running." (via ESPN Boston)
Nevada racked up 192 total yards in the first half while holding Boston College to 68 total yards.
Trailing by ten, the Eagles were presented with a big opportunity to bring the game within three points when Kuechly intercepted Kaepernick and returned the ball to the Wolf Pack six yard line early in the third quarter.
But once again, Boston College's offense couldn't convert, moving one yard on four plays in one minute and 26 seconds. The Eagles were able to get three points out of the ordeal, as kicker Nate Freese hit a 22-yard field goal to bring BC within seven, 17-10, with 11:08 left in the third.
Martinez erased the Eagles' field goal with a 27-yard field goal of his own to build the Wolf Pack lead to 20-10 with 1:17 left in the third quarter.
Freese made another field goal, this time from 32 yards out, to cap off an eight-play, 52-yard drive and cut the Wolf Pack lead to 20-13 with 3:52 remaining in the game.
Boston College attempted the onside kick, but Nevada easily recovered. The Eagles would get one more chance to tie the game with less than three minutes remaining, but Rettig threw an interception that sealed the deal.
The loss snapped Boston College's five game winning streak and marked the Eagles' third straight bowl loss.