Written by: Kurt Frohlich
The All-Time Mackay Miracle…Don’t Stop Believing It!
Call it an early holiday present or the ultimate Thanksgiving weekend celebration, but our beloved UNR Wolf Pack pulled off its most stunning upset ever in their 34 to 31 overtime victory over arch-rival (formerly #3 ranked) Boise State. So in an earlier blog posting, the prior win this year over heavily favored Cal was the high point of a great season at that time. But it was only game 3, and Cal hadn’t proven itself to be the mediocre team it really is. But Nevada beat them straight up, with hardly a scary moment. Not so with the Boise game!
The first half against the Boise powerhouse went pretty much as expected, but not with the blowout numbers they had put up against most of their other opponents. Being behind 24-7 at the half was not great, but not insurmountable either. And what followed in the second half was the stuff of legend.
It had shades of the great comeback game against Weber State in 1991 (yes, we were there for that one too…some call it the greatest comeback in college football history). The Pack fell behind 42 to 7 in the first half, only to come back under backup QB Chris (the “Magic Man”) Vargas and win that game 56 to 49! Watching that game was like watching a movie with a most improbable ending. The win against Boise felt a lot like that game but with much bigger implications.
From our usual spot in the south end zone, we couldn’t tell right away that Boise’s kicker, Kyle Brotzman, missed what would have been the game winner with 2 seconds left in regulation. There were so many Boise fans in the stands that we couldn’t tell whether the cheers were us or them. The miss at the north end zone in overtime was easier to see from our point of view, and we were stunned when that second field goal was clearly missed wide left. Unbelievable! And then our red shirt freshman, Anthony Martinez, calmly kicked a 35 yarder right down the middle to complete the unlikely win in overtime. I think we might need to erect a statue of him at the stadium entrance…maybe among the wolves that guard the front gate.
So here’s my take on what is being called the greatest win in UNR football history. Technically, we didn’t flat out beat Boise…BUT, we never gave up after being down big at halftime, and the defense really stepped up in the second half (only allowing 7 Boise points). The offensive line also had their way with Boise’s defense by the 4th quarter, providing huge running lanes for Vai Taua and Mike Ball. And our receivers stepped up huge…particularly Rishard Matthews. His game tying catch with 13 seconds left was a miracle by itself!
Realistically, the secondary should have never allowed Boise’s great Kellen Moore to connect on a “Hail Mary” to Titus Young to set up what would have been a game winning and gut-wrenching defeat in the last 2 seconds of regulation. But the Pack hung tough and put themselves in a position to win when the opportunity came.
In the end, my girls, wife and I found ourselves down on the field again reveling in a most improbable but undeniably special win for Nevada. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” blared on the loudspeakers, the Pack flags were waving, and the fans were jubilant. We got to congratulate some of the players as well.
In the aftermath, we can’t help but feel a little bad for Boise, who had much more to lose in that game than we did. No BCS bowl, no national championship bid, and an estimated $13 million in lost bowl and TV revenues…ouch!
….OK, I’m over it.
GO PACK!!! Congratulations, and go win your share of the WAC title this weekend!
- Kurt Frohlich
P.S. Stayed tuned for the blog post on Nevada’s first appearance in the “The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl”!
Photos by: www.greenwichtime.com