4:05 PM ET, November 5, 2005
Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV
RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Jeff Rowe passed for 204 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third while B.J. Mitchell ran for a career-high 150 yards and two scores as Nevada beat Hawaii 38-28 Saturday in the Western Athletic Conference.
Kamehameha Schools graduate Caleb Spencer caught two touchdown passes and Robert Hubbard added 88 yards rushing for the Wolf Pack (5-3, 4-1 in the WAC), who are bidding for their first winning season since 1998.
Hawaii freshman Colt Brennan completed 29-of-43 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns, but he was sacked five times and intercepted once. Freshman Davone Bess had 12 catches for 171 yards and a touchdown for the Warriors (3-6, 3-4 in the WAC), who needed a victory to keep alive any hopes for a bowl berth.
Rowe, a junior who has passed for more than 200 yards every game this year, surpassed the 2,000 mark for the season for the second year in a row, now 2,065. He completed 20-of-36 attempts with no interceptions, after having thrown four last week in a 49-14 loss at Boise State.
"That was on the top of my goal sheet: no turnovers, especially after Boise. That was huge," Rowe said.
"We ran the ball well, especially that last 6-minute drive. There are always things you can improve on but I think we played pretty well," he said.
The Wolf Pack's 4-1 league mark is their best since they finished 4-1 in the Big West Conference in 1997. It keeps them alive for a possible bowl berth with road games next at New Mexico State and Utah State before closing the season at home against Fresno State.
"Nothing makes up for the Boise game, but we played well and did what we had to do to win... We still have a long row to hoe," Nevada coach Chris Ault said.
"Running the ball was difference in ball game. I think our offensive line did a great job and our running backs ran well," he said.
It was the fourth game over 100 yards this year for Mitchell, who impressed Hawaii coach June Jones.
"We had guys in position to defend. But that little running back is tough to bring down sometimes. They do a nice job with what they do and they were better than us today," Jones said.
"Turnovers at the end really caught up with us. We had many opportunities that we didn't convert on," he said. "We have our last three games at home and we have to make something happen."
Nevada led 17-14 at the half and went ahead 24-14 early in the third quarter when Spencer made a one-handed catch in the end zone on a 14-yard toss from a scrambling Rowe.
"That one catch, that touchdown, that's as good a catch as I've seen," Ault said. "When you are not playing well somebody has to step up and Caleb did that."
Spencer said it was special facing the school from his home state.
"It's always good to beat them," he said. "It's kind of my rivalry game. I look forward to this a lot."
Hawaii answered Spencer's TD with a 74-yard scoring drive capped by Brennan's 22-yard TD pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen to pull within 24-21 with 8:06 left in the third.
But the Warriors missed a chance to score on their next possession when a wide open Grice-Mullen dropped a long pass from Brennan at Nevada's 10-yard line.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Nate Ilaoa caught a screen pass but Nevada's Erics Clark knocked the ball loose and Ezra Butler recovered at Hawaii's 38. Hubbard ran 19 yards and four plays later Mitchell scored on a 6-yard run to put Nevada up 31-21 with 11:34 left.
Less than a minute later, Joe Garcia intercepted Brennan near midfield and six plays later Rowe ran 2 yards for a touchdown on a bootleg for a 38-21 lead.
Brennan took Hawaii on an 87-yard drive capped by a 24-yard TD to Bess to pull to within 38-28 but could get no closer.
Ault said he was pleased with Nevada's defense, which held Hawaii to 46 yards rushing.
"I think our third quarter defense front we had a great blitz package... I think we had that quarterback a bit on his heels," Ault said.
Hawaii scored first on Ilaoa's 3-yard run for a 6-0 lead after Dan Kelly's extra-point attempt was blocked. Nevada went ahead 7-6 on Rowe's 11-yard touchdown pass to Spencer and Brett Jaekle's kick at :03 in the first quarter.
Starting on his own 1, Brennan hooked up with Ross Dickerson for an 87-yard pass play and four plays later hit him for a 4-yard touchdown, then added a 2-point conversion on a pass to Gordon Slye for a 14-7 lead at 11:39 in the second quarter.
Nevada moved to Hawaii's 3 on Rowe's 27-yard pass to Anthony Pudewell on fourth-and-11, but had to settle for Jaekle's 27-yard field goal to pull within 14-10 4:05 before the half.
Hawaii went three and out on the next series and Kevin Stanley returned a punt 22 yards, with 15 more added on for Khevin Peoples' second personal foul of the day to help set up Mitchell's 30-yard touchdown for a 17-14 lead at 2:11.