ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In charge nearly the entire way, Duke Williams and Nevada let the New Mexico Bowl spin out of control at the end.
Matt Scott threw two short touchdown passes in the final 46 seconds and college football’s postseason started with a wild one when Arizona recovered a late onside kick and rallied past the Wolf Pack 49-48 Saturday.
Nevada led 21-0 in the first quarter and was ahead 45-28 entering the fourth period. The Wolf Pack (7-6) had a chance to seal the win, but a hard-spinning kick bounced off Williams’ chest and was covered by Arizona’s Marquis Flowers.
Scott then tossed a 2-yard TD pass to Tyler Slavin with 19 seconds left.
“You come down to the last 2 minutes or whatever it was and we don’t make a play,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said. “It happened. It’s reality.”
“You look at that and you feel, I’m just sick for those seniors. There’s no question about it. I’m sick for this whole football team. We had an opportunity to win a football game and we didn’t,” he said.
Nevada led 48-35 with 1:48 left after Allen Hardison made a 25-yard field goal.
Arizona (8-5) quickly scored a touchdown, setting up the onside try. Wildcats kicker John Bonano grounded it fast at Williams.
Earlier, Williams made an interception at the Wolf Pack 8. This time, no such luck.
“The ball bounced 2 feet away from me,” he said. “It was coming hot. I just figured I’d make the play and when it counted, I wasn’t able to make it.”
Arizona was still 51 yards away from the end zone without a timeout, Wolf Pack linebacker Albert Rosette pointed out.
“If we recover it, the game is over,” he said. “They got it, but they still have to go down and score a touchdown. They don’t have any timeouts. The game is not over. We can still keep them out of the end zone. It’s not like they can kick a field goal. It’s hard to see them recover, but it wasn’t the game.”
Matt Scott hit Garic Wharton for 28 yards and Austin Hill for 21 yards. The Wildcats completed the improbable comeback with Scott’s short throw to Slavin.
“They scored 14 points in less than 2 minutes,” Rosette said. “I don’t know. I’m still in shock right now. We made some mistakes there at the end. We still felt we were in it. We still felt that we were going to win that game and to lose like that, it hurts.”
Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo finished with 256 yards passing and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 140 yards and a TD.
Wolf Pack running back Stefphon Jefferson gained 180 yards and scored twice.
Two of Fajardo’s scoring tosses went to tight end Zach Sudfeld, both in the first half as Nevada took a big lead.
Arizona came back behind running back Ka’Deem Carey, who finished with 172 yards and three touchdowns. Scott threw for 382 yards and three scores and also ran for one.