LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -Redshirt freshman Colin Kaepernick threw a 31-yard touchdown strike to Mike McCoy with a minute remaining, lifting Nevada to a stirring 40-38 victory over New Mexico State on Friday night.
The Wolf Pack (5-4, 3-2 Western Athletic Conference) won their third straight and held on after Brett Jaekle missed the extra kick after McCoy's touchdown.
The Aggies (4-6, 1-4) drove to Nevada's 27 on their final possession, but Paul Young's 44-yard field attempt sailed low and wide left, touching off a celebration on Nevada's sideline.
It was a huge win as Nevada seeks its third straight bowl bid. With WAC front-runners Hawaii and Boise State on target for bowl bids, both teams needed to keep up with resurgent Fresno State (5-3, 4-1) in the postseason drive.
Kaepernick had a spectacular game, breaking two long TD runs in the fourth quarter and throwing for another two scores in his fourth start since replacing the injured Nick Graziano.
His 35-yard sprint on third-and-15 gave the Wolf Pack a 34-31 lead with 7:13 remaining, and his 31-yarder on third-and-4 put Nevada ahead 27-24 early in the fourth period.
Kaepernick had was 15-of-28 for 237 yards passing with three TDs and one interception. He added 136 yards rushing, and since taking over Kaepernick has accounted for 18 TDs.
New Mexico State's Chase Holbrook threw for 407 yards and four touchdowns to become the school's career leader in TD passes, putting the Aggies ahead 38-34 with a 32-yard scoring pass to A.J. Harris with 3:38 to play.
It was the 56th TD pass of his career, breaking the mark of 55 set by Cody Ledbetter from 1991-95.
That play was set up Davon House's fourth interception in the last three games, putting the Aggies at their own 30 with 4:30 on the clock.
Holbrook put the Aggies ahead 31-27 with 10 minutes to play, throwing a 25-yard TD pass to Kenneth Buckley.
Nevada's Luke Lippincott added 143 yards rushing, his fourth straight game over the 100-yard mark. He came in averaging 113.9 yards rushing, ranking second in the WAC.
In the first half, Kaepernick threw a 5-yard TD pass to Adam Bishop and a highlight-reel 64-yard scoring play to Marko Mitchell, who kept his feet in bounds near the 40 and raced to the end zone.
On that play, New Mexico State cornerback Chris Woods thought Mitchell had stepped out and made no effort to tackle him. Aggies coach Hal Mumme challenged the ruling, but it was upheld after a review and Nevada led 20-3.
Holbrook led the Aggies to 21 straight points from there, making it a game. New Mexico State led 24-20 going into the fourth period after Holbrook tossed a shovel pass that Derek Dubois took for an 8-yard TD.
Nevada has won four straight over New Mexico State and leads the series 10-1.