RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada's 45-42 comeback victory over Air Force wasn't very pretty, but it was pretty wild.
Cody Fajardo threw for a career-high 389 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 81 yards and two more scores — the last one with 1:45 left in the game — to help Nevada overcome a 12-point deficit in the final 6 minutes.
Aaron Bradley caught 11 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown and Brandon Wimberly had a career-high 15 receptions for 134 yards and a score for the Wolf Pack (3-2, 2-0 Mountain West). Nevada cornerback Charles Garrett's interception at the Wolf Pack's 25 sealed the victory with less than 30 seconds left in the game.
"That was pretty wild," said first-year Nevada coach Brian Polian, who watched a smaller Air Force team control much of the game on both sides of the ball.
"Was it perfect? Not by a long shot. But they found a way. Sometimes you play in a game and it's ugly and you've just got to find a way. We found a way tonight. It wasn't pretty. It was a character win. We showed some resiliency tonight. I'm proud of our team for that," he said.
Karson Roberts ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns and threw for another score, and Broam Hart added 88 yards rushing and a TD for the Falcons (1-4, 0-4), who lost their fourth in a row.
"I thought we played exceptionally hard, incredibly hard," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said.
"We missed some opportunities to make some plays, which you have to make to be able to close out a football game, especially against a quality squad," he said.
Air Force went ahead 42-30 when Sam Gagliano made a 22-yard diving catch in the end zone with 7:44 left in the game.
"We had it in the bag and beat ourselves so the mood is a bit more somber," Gagliano said. "Guys are beating themselves up a little bit, but we'll keep our heads up and keep moving forward."
Fajardo answered with a 75-yard scoring drive capped by a 9-yard TD pass to Aaron Bradley to pull within 42-37 with 5:55 remaining.
Consecutive illegal substitution penalties — which Calhoun agreed were the right calls — forced Air Force to punt. But when Nevada's Joseph Humber fumbled at the Wolf Pack 31, his teammate Randy Uzoma recovered and ran 21 yards to midfield. With 3:50 left, Fajardo passed 30 yards to Bradley, ran 9 yards and passed 8 to Wimberly before scoring on a 2-yard keeper. Jackson rushed for the 2-point conversion to put Nevada on top for good 45-42 with 1:45 left.
"I'm going to say a lot of prayers tonight, that's for sure," said Fajardo, whose 38 completions and 54 attempts also were career highs. "It was a team victory. ... I'm pretty proud of our offense. They never panicked. We knew if we just played our game, we could score and we'd get right back into it.
"We knew the defense was going to get a stop. They did, the rest is history. We never gave up."