EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Quarterback Clayton Thorson scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes and Northwestern beat Nevada, 31-20, in Saturday’s opener for both teams.
Trailing 20-17 in the fourth quarter, Thorson directed a 75-yard drive that culminated in his following the block of right guard Tommy Doles to crash the end zone for a 24-20 lead. Thorson scored on another 1-yard plunge with 52 seconds to play, ending Nevada’s upset hopes in Jay Norvell’s first game as the Wolf Pack’s coach.
Nevada led 17-7 lead after a pair of Ty Gangi touchdown passes and Spencer Pettit’s 31-yard field goal late in the first half, only to squander the advantage in the third quarter. Following Charlie Kuhbander’s 23-yard field goal, Northwestern tied the game at 17 on Thorson’s 19-yard TD pass to Riley Lee.
Spencer Pettit’s 33-yard field goal with 10:13 to play moved Nevada ahead, 20-17. But Thorson, 6 of 7 pass completions on the subsequent drive and 28-of-38 for 352 yards overall, moved Northwestern to the 1-yard line, then ran it in for the score that gave the Wildcats the lead for good.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack showed plenty in Norvell’s first game as head coach, for three quarters.
Northwestern: Thorson’s 163.6 quarterback rating may not hold up all year, but it signified why coach Pat Fitzgerald has faith in the junior.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack return home to host MAC foe Toledo next week.
Northwestern: The Wildcats travel to Duke for a rematch of last year’s 24-13 Northwestern win.
(© 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)