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story.lead_photo.caption Nevada tight end Reagan Roberson dives into the end zone past Arkansas State’s Logan Wescott (37) and Antonio Fletcher (14) for the winning touchdown in overtime to give the Wolf Pack a 16-13 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday in the Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium in Tucson. - Photo by Mitchell PE Masilun

TUCSON, Ariz. -- One Nevada player belly-flopped at midfield. A larger group gathered to celebrate in the corner of the end zone where the Wolf Pack ended Arkansas State University's 2018 season.

For ASU, the story of the 2018 Arizona Bowl was not the 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ty Gangi to tight end Reagan Roberson that ended the 16-13 overtime loss.

No, the story of the last game of the season was about what the Red Wolves failed to do.

"Obviously," ASU Coach Blake Anderson said, "it was a rough day for us."

The Red Wolves left touchdowns on the field and botched multiple field goals Saturday at Arizona Stadium. Time and time again, the Red Wolves fell flat near the end zone -- a theme from the first half of ASU's 8-5 season that was alleviated when the school averaged 36.5 points per game during a four-game winning streak to end the regular season.

Arkansas State’s Kendrick Edwards (5) is consoled by teammates after the Red Wolves’ loss to Nevada. For more photos, go to arkansasonline.com/galleries.
Arkansas State’s Kendrick Edwards (5) is consoled by teammates after the Red Wolves’ loss to Nevada. For more photos, go to arkansasonline.com/galleries.

ASU has lost five games in three consecutive seasons and is 1-4 in its past five bowl games.

At one point in the second half, Arkansas State failed to score on four different drives inside Nevada's 10-yard line. In eight tries inside Nevada's 32, ASU scored once.

The Arizona Bowl was a low-scoring affair between two teams that averaged more than 30 points a game during the season.

"We didn't get it done," Anderson said. "That falls on me."

ASU outgained the Wolf Pack 499-285 in total yards, 224-85 in rushing yards and 275-200 in passing.

"I feel like I let them down," Anderson said. "My job as the head coach and offensive coordinator is to put points on the board. And we just left too many."

Eleven of ASU's 16 offensive drives ended in Nevada territory. Three drives were terminated by failed fourth-down conversion attempts. Two ended in missed field goals by freshman kicker Blake Grupe. Three others ceased after interceptions -- two of which were thrown by senior quarterback Justice Hansen inside Nevada's 10-yard line. One ended with a punt. The other two ended with the touchdown and a field goal.

"Very easily could've been another 14 points on the board," Anderson said. "We missed two field goals. You're looking at another six [points] that we missed. It could've been a completely different game."

Only one drive was completed with a touchdown. Freshman running back Marcel Murray punched in a 2-yard run with 3:08 remaining in the second quarter to hand ASU a 7-3 lead at halftime.

Arkansas State running back Marcel Murray rolls into the end zone Saturday for the Red Wolves’ lone touchdown during the second quarter of their 16-13 overtime loss to the Nevada Wolf Pack at the Arizona Bowl in Tucson. For more photos, visit arkansasonline.com/galleries.
Arkansas State running back Marcel Murray rolls into the end zone Saturday for the Red Wolves’ lone touchdown during the second quarter of their 16-13 overtime loss to the Nevada Wolf Pack at the Arizona Bowl in Tucson. For more photos, visit arkansasonline.com/galleries.

Senior running back Warren Wand rolled up 140 rushing yards on 16 attempts. His 140-yard day put him at 3,095 rushing yards for his career, the third mos tin program history.

"I appreciate it, but like they said, if you ain't No. 1, you're last," Wand said.

A scoreless third quarter was the most costly for ASU's offense. The Red Wolves' drive chart tells the story: Turnover on downs at Nevada's 5-yard line, interception at the 6, a punt from Nevada's 40, and an interception at Nevada's 9.

"The windows get a lot smaller down there," said Hansen, who finished 26 of 46 for 275 yards and 3 interceptions in his final game at ASU. "To go out like this is not the way I wanted to do it."

Despite losing Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Ronheen Bingham in the first quarter to a left leg injury, ASU's defense put on a show.

The Red Wolves allowed Nevada to cross the 50-yard line just twice before the fourth quarter began.

The Wolf Pack (8-5) trailed 7-3 when they took over at their own 26 with 3:45 to play. A team that had 111 total yards on its previous seven second-half possessions embarked on a 10-play, 74-yard drive to take the lead.

On fourth and 7 from the Nevada 40, Gangi connected with Dominic Christian for a 15-yard gain to the ASU 45 with under two minutes to go. After an incompletion, Gangi found Ben Putman for a 44-yard completion to the 1.

With 1:06 remaining in regulation, Nevada freshman running back Devonte Lee muscled in the last yard. Nevada's first touchdown of the bowl delivered a 10-7 lead. It also gave Hansen and ASU's offense 66 seconds to work with to get back into the game.

Arkansas State successfully drove down the field as Hansen connected on 5 of 6 passes, including an 18-yarder to Justin McInnis to the ASU 23 with seconds remaining. Grupe kicked the game-tying 32-yard field goal as time expired to send the game to overtime.

ASU received the ball first in overtime. Wand gained 17 yards on three carries to set up a second and 7 from the ASU 8. An incomplete pass and 1 yard run by Hansen led to Grupe's 24-yard field goal for a 13-10 edge.

The ASU defense had the Wolf Pack set up with a third and 7 before Gangi's game-winning pass.

"We had every opportunity to win it," Anderson said.

Sports on 12/30/2018

Print Headline: Desert drought: Red Wolves lose to Nevada in low-scoring Arizona Bowl

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Comments

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  • GeneralMac
    December 30, 2018 at 7:23 a.m.

    Warren Wand ended his career with a great performance.

    Omar Bayless ended his season with a great performance.

  • hurricane46
    December 30, 2018 at 4:11 p.m.

    Piss poor play calling, they need to fire the OC. Noticed the paper put the score on the front page, that has to be the first time ever. But then again, I'm sure they did it to rub it in ASUs' nose since the Hogs didn't go to a bowl.....again.

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