Nevada showed Central Florida wasn't the only team to have an amazing turnaround this season. Jeff Rowe scored on a 4-yard naked bootleg...
HONOLULU — Nevada showed Central Florida wasn’t the only team to have an amazing turnaround this season.
Jeff Rowe scored on a 4-yard naked bootleg in overtime to help the Wolf Pack to a 49-48 victory over the Golden Knights in the Hawaii Bowl on Saturday night.
Central Florida kicker Matt Prater, who had three field goals during the game, missed an attempt for the tying extra point wide right — giving Nevada its eighth win in nine games and sending Wolf Pack players running on the field as stunned opponents watched.
B.J. Mitchell ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns, and Robert Hubbard had 126 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Wolf Pack (9-3), which finished with its best season since 1996 and spoiled Central Florida’s bowl debut.
“We knew it was going to be a hard fight,” Hubbard said. “The guys just never gave up and we survived. We had an amazing comeback. It’s a Cinderella season for us, as well.”
Central Florida’s Brandon Marshall caught a 16-yard pass for a touchdown that tied the score at 42 with 55 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The score capped a four-play, 48-yard drive that took 37 seconds.
Prater booted a 46-yard field goal with 1:32 left to draw Central Florida to 42-35, and the Golden Knights recovered the onside kick with no timeouts left — setting up Marshall’s dramatic catch that sent the game into overtime.
“I guess it hurts a little more because this is my last game,” said Marshall, who earned most-valuable-player honors for his team with 11 catches for 210 yards and three TDs.
Mitchell was Nevada’s MVP.
Earlier this season, the Golden Knights (8-5) ended what was the nation’s longest Division I-A losing streak at 17 games. After going 0-11 last season, they were trying to match the 1940 Stanford team for the second-biggest, one-season turnaround in NCAA history.
“It feels like a bad dream. To lose like this is unbelievable,” said Central Florida’s Jason Peters, who rushed for 44 yards. Peters played for Evergreen High School in White Center.
Prater, who had field goals of 47, 38 and 46 yards, declined to answer questions in the locker room.
“They should feel bad. That’s what winning and losing is all about,” Central Florida coach George O’Leary said. “You put in so much time and when you do lose a game, it hurts.”
Kevin Smith had 202 yards rushing and three TDs, including a 19-yarder in overtime, for the Golden Knights, who went 700 days without a win before beating Marshall 23-13 in their third game this year.
Nevada coach Chris Ault said, “We are not a big, great-talented team, but we play with this big heart.”