The win, championed by a season-high 311 rushing yards, snapped Nevada’s (4-7) five-game skid. San Jose (5-5) has dates with Navy and Fresno State remaining to become bowl eligible.
“I’m very happy for our kids right now,” Nevada coach Brian Polian said. “I thought they played their tails off in all three phases of the game."
After forcing a lone first-half punt, Nevada forced four consecutive San Jose punts to open the second half. The Wolf Pack out-gained the Spartans 233-49 in the third quarter alone.
With a suddenly dominant defense, Nevada’s offense scored touchdowns on two of its first three second-half possessions to put the game away.
“In the second half, our staff did a really nice job of honing in the plan,” Polian said. "I thought our pass rushers did a really nice job.”
The Wolf Pack defense finished with five sacks.
Don Jackson matched his season-long with a 39-yard touchdown run to cap Nevada’s second series of the second half, cutting from the left has to the right pylon.
“It just feels good to win,” Jackson said.
Jackson ran for 80 yards and the score on 11 touches.
Brandon Wimberly moved into third on Nevada’s all time receptions list the play before with an 8-yard grab. The reception was the 249th of his career, passing Nate Burleson.
Wimberly finished with 11 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown, extending his nation-leading streak of games with a reception to 51.
Cody Fajardo added a 17-yard touchdown run on Nevada’s next drive to extend the lead to 35-16 with three minutes to play in the third quarter.
Fajardo led the team with 106 rushing yards on 14 carries, including the touchdown. Nevada’s banged-up quarterback also completed 20-of-27 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown.
Nevada took a 21-16 into the locker room at the half despite allowing the Spartans to march into its side of the field four times.
The five-point lead was a result of forcing three Austin Lopez field goals. Lopez drilled field goals of 44, 47 and 50 yards to set the San Jose school record for field goals in a season with 19. The previous record was 18.
Lopez’s longest first-half field goal came on the final play of the half. San Jose marched 43 yards in 57 seconds to set up the lengthy attempt.
Nevada cornerback Charles Garrett dropped a sure interception, which hit him between the two and the four on his jersey the play before, which would have effectively ended the half.
Kendall Brock capped the Pack’s sharp opening drive with a 2-yard plunge to put Nevada in front 7-0.
Brock racked up 86 yards and two touchdowns on 17 touches.
“I thought our backs really ran hard and finished runs tonight,” Polian said.
Following Lopez’s 47-yard field goal and one of Nevada’s two first-half punts, San Jose grabbed its lone lead of the half with Billy Freeman’s 5-yard touchdown grab.
Brock grabbed the lead back on Nevada’s next drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive.
Wimberly put Nevada in front 21-13 with 3:32 left in the half, snaring a 2-yard touchdown pass from Fajardo on a perfectly thrown fade route.
Nevada had a chance to put points on the board at the end of the half, taking over at its own 20 with 1:42 left but went three-and-out. Nevada’s defense forced its first punt of the half to set up the possession.
San Jose quarterback David Fales marched the Spartans into field goal range at the end of the half to set up Lopez’s 50-yarder.
After putting together its most complete game of the season, Nevada is off next weekend before wrapping up the season at home against BYU Nov. 30.
“What you saw tonight is what I believe we could have been capable of,” Polian said. “What you saw tonight is my vision.”