RENO - University of Nevada coach Chris Tormey couldn't have said it better when talking about how his team was going to win.
"Obviously the best chance for us to win the game is to move the chains," Tormey said.
Tormey might as well have been referring to redshirt freshman Chance Kretschmer, the Tonopah Tornado if you will, who gained 162 yards on 31 carries to lead the Wolf Pack to a 28-20 win over Hawaii on Saturday at Mackay Stadium in their Western Athletic Conference opener.
Kretschmer gained 136 yards on 23 carries in the second half. He came in as the WAC's leading rusher and now has 370 yards rushing on the season for Nevada (1-2, 1-0).
"We felt like it was important to run the football and keep their offense off the field," Tormey said. "You've got to give credit to the offensive line.
"He made a lot of tough yards out there," Tormey also said about Kretschmer. "He was getting the extra yards. It just seems the more he carries the football, the better he gets."
During Nevada's last drive, one of Hawaii's defenders agreed with Tormey's assessment when Kretschmer kept chewing up yardage down the field.
"You've got to stop running like that, you guys are killing us," said Kretschmer about what one of the Hawaii defenders told him. "That's where I got my extra wind."
Because of Kretschmer's effort, Nevada was able to gain 15 rushing first downs and converted 12 of 17 third downs.
"He's the great white hype," said Wolf Pack receiver Nate Burleson. "Everybody loves him. He came out of nowhere to earn a scholarship."
On that last drive, Hawaii was able to stuff Kretschmer twice for no gain on third-and-one at the 5-yard line, forcing Nevada to settle for Damon Fine's 22-yard field goal that gave the Wolf Pack a 28-20 lead. But the Nevada defense stuffed Hawaii on its next possession to seal the win.
One run early in the second half was representative of Kretschmer's effort. He bounced away from a jammed line of scrimmage for a 33-yard gain. That set up David Neill's 9-yard touchdown pass to Burleson. Fine's extra point try, though, was blocked, leaving Nevada with a 19-13 lead.
Nevada went on to put together an 18-play, 92-yard drive that took eight minutes, 16 seconds. Neill concluded the drive with his third touchdown pass of the day, a 7-yarder to Jermaine Brown in which Neill threaded the needle through traffic.
Brown admitted that he didn't know if the pass was intended for him. After the failed two-point conversion, the Wolf Pack led 25-13. Hawaii cut the lead to 25-20 on a 5-yard pass from Timmy Chang to Chad Owens.
The Wolf Pack overcame a sloppy first half in which they committed 12 penalties for 81 yards. Nevada, though, finished the game with just 14 penalties for 101 yards.
"We made an awful lot of mistakes out there today," Tormey said. "We're going to have to do better.
"We've just got to get the mistakes cleaned up if we're going to be a very good team. Our poise has got to get better."
Chang completed his first five passes for 72 yards on Hawaii's opening drive, but the weakness of the run and shoot offense in the red zone was demonstrated when Hawaii had to settle for Justin Ayat's 18-yard field goal. Hawaii drove inside Nevada's 20 six times, but came away with just two touchdowns. Ayat also missed a field goal and Nevada's Ronnie Hardiman intercepted a pass in the end zone.
Nevada scored on its opening drive on a perfect timing pattern between Neill and Brown for a 17-yard scoring pass. The Wolf Pack had to overcome one of their mistakes on the drive when Burleson's 7-yard score on a reverse was called back by a holding penalty.
Hawaii took a 10-7 lead on Chang's 1-yard scoring pass to Channon Harris. Fine's 24-yard field goal tied it at 10, but then came another mistake.
Fine perfectly placed his kickoff inside the Hawaii 20 near the sideline. When Justin Colbert tried to field the ball on a hop, he was knocked loose of the ball by Marlon McLaughlin. Hardiman picked up the ball at the Hawaii 6, but an offsides penalty nullified the play. Hawaii went on to take a 13-10 lead on Ayat's 30-yard field goal.
A 34-yard pass from Neill to Dan Bythwood set up Fine's 40-yard field goal, which tied the score 13-13. "I'm just so excited about that kid," said Tormey about Fine.
Wolf Pack Notes: Neill became Nevada's all-time leader in career completions with 657, surpassing the mark of 642 by Eric Beavers (who is now the head coach at South Tahoe High School) ... Neill wouldn't say why he missed the Colorado State game when he was suspended due to unspecified team rules, but he was contrite. "What I did was wrong, but I'm going to make it up to you guys," said Neill about what he told the team... Tormey said the rescheduling of the Hawaii game, originally scheduled for last week, to this week helped his team... In an effort to guard Hawaii's taller receivers, Burleson was occasionally inserted on defense.