RENO -- It was a game of touchdowns, a game where defense was only a theory, not carried out, a game that whichever team had the ball last would probably win.
And when the game ended, Nevada's offense was on the sidelines watching as a late Louisiana Tech field goal lifted the Bulldogs to a 45-42 Western Athletic Conference victory on Saturday at Mackay Stadium.
"I wish there was about three more minutes in that game," said Wolf Pack coach Chris Tormey.
Josh Scobee's 30-yard field goal with five seconds left in the game overshadowed a career day rushing by Chance Kretschmer. The Tonopah, Nev., native rushed for 242 yards, the fifth best single-game rushing performance in Wolf Pack history. Scobee's field goal also overshadowed five 70-yard or more touchdown drives by the Nevada offense.
But the inability to stop the Bulldog offense, led by quarterback Luke McCown, kept the Wolf Pack from winning their second WAC game of the year. Instead, Nevada (1-4 overall, 1-1 WAC) needs to figure out how to win games before next Saturday's game against Rice University in Houston.
"You're only defeated when you quit," Tormey said. "And we don't have any quitters."
One thing is for sure, neither offense quit yesterday. Nevada quarterback David Neill completed all eight of his passes in the first quarter, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Nate Burleson, which put the Wolf Pack up 7-0. In the first half, Neill was 12-of-13 for 147 yards. Neill's lone incompletion was a interception that was returned to the Nevada 12, which led to McCown's 3-yard touchdown scramble that made it 21-14.
McCown's running, though, wasn't what hurt the Wolf Pack. His passing was. The sophomore quarterback passed for 407 yards on 27-of-43 passing, his fifth career 400-yard passing game. McCown also threw four touchdown passes.
Kretschmer's 3-yard TD run in the second quarter gave Nevada a 28-14 lead, but the Bulldogs got within a touchdown before halftime after McCown hooked up with John Simon for a 3-yard touchdown. The 28 first-half points were the most the Wolf Pack have scored this season and the most since 1998, when they led Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo at halftime, 28-0.
"We have good players, we have good coaches, we were efficient up until that interception that led to a touchdown," said Tormey about the first half. "We can move the ball and it was a great offensive performance."
Louisiana Tech took its first lead of the game, 35-28, after Joe Smith punched in a 1-yard TD run. Back and forth it went. Neill had two rushing touchdowns in the second half that tied the game each time. His 10-yard keeper with 1:27 remaining in the game tied it 42.
"We knew they could strike right back," said Matt White, Nevada linebacker and former McQueen star.
On the Bulldogs ensuing possession, backup quarterback Maxie Causey led them to the Nevada 13, which set up the game-winning field goal. Causey completed 3-of-4 passes on the drive for 39 yards, including a game-breaking 30-yard completion to Allen Stark that brought them to the Nevada 24.
Following Scobee's field goal, the Wolf Pack kickoff return never amounted to much.
Neill finished with 76 yards rushing, but only 196 yard in the air on 19-of-24 passing.
"We've learned how to fight and battle, now we need to learn how to win," Neill said.
For the second-straight game, the Wolf Pack were hampered by penalties. Nevada committed 14 penalties for 113 yards against the Bulldogs. Last week in its 27-12 loss to rival UNLV, Nevada committed 10 penalties for 99 yards.
Wide receiver Nate Burleson thinks he has solution.
"It's just focus, that's all it is," said Burleson about the Wolf Pack's mental errors and penalties. "It starts at home while you're reading a book. If you can't read it for more than two minutes, then you probably have focus problem. Maybe we can just draw a dot on a piece of paper and stare at it all practice."
LEAVING IT TO CHANCE
Running back Chance Kretschmer rushed for a career-high 242 yards on 30 carries, his fourth-straight 100-yard game. Kretschmer, a redshirt freshman, remains the Western Athletic Conference's leading rusher and against the Bulldogs, he averaged over eight yards per carry.
"What can you say?" Tormey asked. "He does everything you can do."
TECH QUARTERBACK PILING ON THE NUMBERS
Sophomore Luke McCown, whose brother, Randy, was a former Texas A&M quarterback, is on his way to rewriting the Louisiana Tech record books. With his 407 yards yesterday, Luke had his second-straight 400-yard passing week, the first coming in last Saturday's 41-20 win over San Jose State, when he also threw for 407 yards.
McCown now has five 400-yard plus yard games and has passed for 3,739 yards in his 13-game career. Tim Rattay, who's now a backup QB with the San Francisco 49ers, is Tech's all-time leading passer with over 12,000 yards.
MCQUEEN STAR HAS BIG GAME
Freshman linebacker Matt White, a former Lancer, had a sack, a fumble recovery, two solo tackles, and three assists against the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-2, 220 pounder finished with 3 1/2 tackles in the game.
"I was just doing my job, doing what I'm supposed to do, fly around and have some fun," White said.