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Friday's college football: Nevada rallies, stuns Purdue on 56-yard field goal

Associated Press
Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor (23) scores against South Florida during the second half on Friday.

Reno, Nev. — When Nevada quarterback Carson Strong and kicker Brandon Talton attended high school in Vacaville, California, neither paid too close attention to each other.

They were a year apart and both attended rival high schools.

But last year, when they met up in Vacaville at a football game, Strong pitched Nevada to Talton.

A year later on Friday, Strong got his first start at Nevada, and he would not have won without Talton kicking a 56-yard field goal as time expired, booting the Wolf Pack to a 34-31 victory over Purdue and capping a 17-point comeback for second win in program history against a Big Ten school.

Talton, a walk-on playing his first collegiate game Friday, said his previous long in a game was 47 yards.

“(Nevada coach Jay Norvell) told me at 11 a.m. today (that I was getting the start),” said Talton, who was awarded with a scholarship after the game. “We (me and Spencer Pettiet) were battling all week (for the starting spot). … coach told me after morning stretches.”

Strong got the nod as starter about two weeks ago and became the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener for Nevada since 1998.

Strong hadn’t started a football game since 2017. He sat out his senior year at Wood High in Vacaville and again last year as a redshirt. He completed 30 of 51 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns.

“The first quarter was moving a little bit fast,” Strong said. “I wasn’t seeing my reads as well as I needed to, but as the game went on. … it was basically moving in slow motion.”

Nevada went into the break trailing 24-7, and trailed 31-17 at the start of the fourth quarter. The 17-point Nevada comeback tied the second largest comeback for the program since 1996.

With the game tied and 32 seconds remaining, Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar threw an interception to defensive back Daniel Brown. Nevada tied the game with 52 seconds left on Strong’s 20-yard pass to Elijah Cooks.

“It was a pretty amazing game,” Norvell said. “One of the best I have ever been a part of. … could not have been prouder of how we fought and held on there until the end of the game.”

Sindelar recorded a career high 423 passing yards four touchdowns, but the Boilermakers lost the turnover battle, 5-0, and two of those turnovers were Sindelar interceptions.

“It’s more than disappointing,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “I didn’t like it. I got to do some things to get everything fixed.”

Rondale Moore displayed his big play capability in his first half, but was contained for most of the second half. He finished with 11 catches for 124 yards and one touchdown.

“We just want to show that we can play with anybody in the country,” Nevada defensive back Daniel Brown said. “I know they say, ‘Power 5 this,’ but the Mountain West plays some pretty good football.”

More Big Ten

(At) Rutgers 48, UMass 21: McLane Carter shook off an early interception — and three overall — to complete 21 of 31 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns in his Rutgers debut.

UMass jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, looking poised for an upset in coach Walt Bell’s debut. After the Minutemen marched down the field on their opening 75-yard drive that ended in 20-yard pass from Randall West to Kyle Horn, Carter proceeded to throw an interception on the Scarlet Knights’ first possession. Cam Roberson ran 39 yards for a touchdown two plays later.

After a couple of TD runs by Isaih Pacheco to get Rutgers going, Carter threw two second-quarter touchdowns. Carter’s first TD toss was to Bo Melton, who had six catches for 127 yards.

Rutgers would go on to take its first lead of the game at 24-21 after a Justin Davidovicz 27-yard field goal with 4:04 left in the second quarter.

No. 19 Wisconsin 49, (at) South Florida 0: Jonathan Taylor rushed for 135 yards and scored a career-best four touchdowns, helping Wisconsin open the season with a rout.

Taking up where he left off a year ago, when he lead the nation with 2,194 yards and 16 touchdowns, Taylor scored on runs of 37 and 38 yards. The junior running back also had the first two receiving TDs of his career, scooting 36 yards up the left sideline after taking a quick flip from Jack Coan and later extending the ball over the goal line on a 12-yard reception that gave the Badgers a 28-0 halftime lead.

Wisconsin’s defense delivered a dominating performance, too, limiting South Florida to 157 yards total offense and forcing three turnovers, including a fumble that Matt Henningsen returned 16 yards for a second quarter touchdown.

The loss was the seventh straight for USF, which dropped the final six games of 2018 after starting 7-0 and climbing into the Top 25.

Texas Hall of Fame

Texas has long paid tribute to its greatest athletes and coaches by placing their names in its hallowed Hall of Honor. Now it finally has a physical Hall of Fame to help Longhorns fans celebrate them.

The school unveiled the new Frank Denius Family University of Texas Athletics Hall of Fame to highlight the past and present of a program that was won 55 national championships, hundreds more conference titles and produced nearly 200 Olympians.

The nearly 25,000-square foot facility is in the Royal-Memorial football stadium and cost about $17 million. The entry is dominated by an 8-foot tall, 1,200-pound statue honoring the school’s longhorn mascot. Statues of Heisman Trophy winners Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams that used to be outside the stadium have been moved indoors.

Exhibits showcase the school’s first football team in 1893, Julius Whittier, who was the Longhorns’ first African-American football letterman, and other trailblazers such as former women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt, who won 900 career games and coached the NCAA’s first undefeated national champion in 1985-86.

On display are nearly 400 team championship trophies and individual awards across all sports. And the space is designed with digital interactive elements for visiting fans, allowing them to scroll through years of highlights, or read biographies of athletes and coaches with simple bar code scan on their smartphone.

Beer me

Mississippi will wait until the second half of the season to join the list of Southeastern Conference schools selling beer at home football games.

School officials announced beer sales at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will begin Oct. 19 against Texas A&M. Beer also will be sold at The Pavilion at Ole Miss during the 2019-20 men’s and women’s basketball seasons.

Ole Miss officials said they’re waiting until Oct. 19 so they can assess staffing needs, learn from other schools’ experiences with beer sales and promote responsible behavior.

Ole Miss will allow a limit of two beers to be purchased at any one time. Sales will end at the conclusion of the third quarter.