Wolf Pack Falls at Hawaii 41-34
HONOLULU (AP) -- Colt Brennan's precision passing led Hawaii to a big lead, but a costly fumble almost cost the Warriors the game.
Brennan threw four first-half touchdown passes and ran for another score as Hawaii held on to a 41-34 victory over Nevada on Saturday night.
Nate Ilaoa carried 14 times for 151 yards and caught eight passes for 68 yards as the Warriors (3-2, 1-1 Western Athletic Conference) snapped the Wolf Pack's three-game winning streak.
Brennan's 7-yard run in the fourth quarter put Hawaii up 41-21 and helped seal the win. He finished the night 36-of-47 for 419 yards, moving into second place on Hawaii's career passing list.
In just 17 games, Brennan has racked up 6,163 career passing yards, breaking Dan Robinson's mark of 6,038 yards set from 1997-99. Brennan is still miles behind Timmy Chang's NCAA record of 17,072.
Hawaii took control in the first half with its offense and relied on its defense to hold off a late rally by Nevada (3-3, 0-2) on a muggy, windless night at Aloha Stadium.
Backup quarterback Travis Moore replaced Jeff Rowe with Nevada down by 20 points with 11:45 left and provided instant offense. Moore threw touchdown passes of 13 and 5 yards to tight end Anthony Pudewell to draw Nevada within seven with 3:57 left.
Linebacker Jason DeMars forced Brennan to fumble, giving Nevada possession on Hawaii's 3 with 2:43 left.
"It would have been a lot more fun if I hadn't fumbled. I'll guarantee you that," Brennan said. "But once I fumbled, all the fun went out of the game and all that mattered was the victory."
But the Warriors defense denied the Wolf Pack as Moore's fourth-down pass sailed through the hands of Mike McCoy in the back of the end zone.
"With the special defense we have, you can never count those guys out," Ilaoa said. "Fortunately, they were there all night and were able to stop them on the last four."
Hawaii coach June Jones wasn't upset about Brennan's fumble.
"He was pretty phenomenal," Jones said. "At the end of the game, we fumbled the ball, but I'm glad it didn't make a difference and it won't overshadow the great game he played."
Hawaii's Davone Bess had 10 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. Ian Sample added five receptions for 107 yards and two TDs.
Sample first touchdown grab, a 17-yarder, gave Hawaii a 10-7 lead. Sample caught a 63-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes later to give Hawaii a 17-7 lead.
The Warriors scored on all five of their first-half possessions and took a 31-14 lead on a short, play-action pass from Brennan to Ross Dickerson on fourth-and-1.
The 3-yard touchdown was Brennan's fourth touchdown of the first half and was set up by runs of 28, 35 and 11 yards by Ilaoa.
Brennan was near perfect to start the game, completing 20 of his first 22 attempts for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
"We had a chance to win and we didn't," Nevada coach Chris Ault said. "As bad as we played, we had a chance to win it from the 3-yard line and didn't. That's very disappointing."
Ault said he was especially disappointed in his team's tackling and the costly fumbles by the offense.
"I never anticipated our backs fumbling like they did tonight," he said.
Nevada managed to cut Hawaii's lead to 10 just before halftime on a 3-yard pass from Rowe to McCoy. The Wolf Pack had a 7-3 lead early in the game on Rowe's 19-yard touchdown pass to Jack Darlington, who finished with eight receptions for 135 yards.
Caleb Spencer added seven receptions for 106 yards, but still hasn't found the end zone this season.
Freshman Brandon Fragger rushed 10 times for 54 yards for Nevada. Rowe was 20-of-26 243 yards and two TDs. Moore was 6-of-10 for 121 yards.
Looking to put the game away, Hawaii came away empty after driving deep into Nevada territory twice in the third quarter.
With first-and-goal from Nevada's 1, Ilaoa was hit by defensive end J.J. Milan and fumbled into the end zone. The ball was recovered by safety Jonathon Amaya for a touchback.
Hawaii regained possession on the ensuing play when linebacker Adam Leonard forced Robert Hubbard into a fumble. The Warriors drove to the Wolf Pack's 7, but Dan Kelly's 24-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Devon Walker.