Coming into the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Boston College coach Frank Spaziani knew his Eagles had a tall task in front of them.
“We have a tiger by the tail in Nevada,” Spaziani said during a pregame press conference.
The Eagles held on for dear life Sunday night, but it wasn’t good enough as Nevada turned away Boston College 20-13 at AT&T Park and finished the season with a 13-1 record and a bowl win to snap a five-game postseason losing streak.
Kahlid Wooten picked off a Chase Rettig pass near midfield with two minutes left in the game to seal the victory for Nevada, which used a suffocating defense to hold Boston College to just 185 yards of offense.
For the Eagles, it marked their second straight loss in San Francisco’s bowl game after losing to USC last season.
The Eagles (7-6) caught an early break on Nevada’s second possession as Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who threw for 192 yards, fumbled on a scramble and Donnie Fletcher recovered at the Wolf Pack 30. Andre Williams scored on the very next play, a 30-yard sprint down the sideline that gave Boston College a 7-0 lead with 8:21 left in the opening quarter.
But Kaepernick rebounded from the error and led Nevada 77 yards on 10 plays, capping the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews, who was named the Outstanding Offensive Player of the game, to tie the contest with 3:36 left in the quarter.
After forcing a quick three-and-out on the Eagles’ next possession, Matthews took the punt at the Wolf Pack’s 28 and raced 72 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
The second quarter was mostly a punting battle, with Nevada getting a 40-yard field goal from Anthony Martinez with 5:48 left in the half as Nevada led 17-7 at the break.
Luke Kuechly, who was named the game’s Outstanding Defensive Player, picked off a Kaepernick pass on the opening possession of the second half and returned it to the Wolf Pack 5-yard line, but Nevada’s defense held and forced a 22-yard field goal by Nate Freese.
The Wolf Pack stretched the lead back to 10 on their next possession, moving the ball 34 yards in nine plays to set up a 27-yard field goal by Martinez with 1:17 left in the third.
Boston College then put together a late drive in the final quarter, benefiting from two pass interference calls to set up a 32-yard field goal by Freese to draw the Eagles to within seven at 20-13 with 3:52 left.
But the Eagles’ onside kick was recovered by Nevada at the 46 and the Wolf Pack ran the clock down to 3:06 before punting the ball back to the Eagles at their own 10 with no timeouts left.
Rettig, who completed just 14 of 34 passes for 121 yards and two interceptions, moved Boston College out to their own 42 before throwing the errant pass under pressure to Wooten to seal the game for Nevada.