TUCSON, Ariz. — Reagan Roberson bulldozed through one tackler and dove into the end zone on an 11-yard catch-and-run in overtime, lifting UNR over Arkansas State 16-13 in the Arizona Bowl on Saturday.
“This is right up there at the top as far as guys fighting and believing in each other,” UNR coach Jay Norvell said.
UNR (8-5) labored against Arkansas State’s defensive front all game before coming to life late, going up 10-7 on Devonte Lee’s 1-yard touchdown run with 1:06 left.
Arkansas State (8-5) racked up 499 yards, but was 1 for 5 in the red zone with two turnovers before marching quickly down the field at the end of regulation. Blake Grupe, who had one field goal blocked and badly missed on another, drilled a 32-yarder to tie it on the final play.
Grupe opened overtime with a 24-yard field goal, but Roberson bulled his way into the end zone to send the Wolf Pack rushing onto the field.
“We’ve been working that play I don’t know how long,” UNR quarterback Ty Gangi said. “I gave him a chance and he made a great play for me, broke a tackle and dove into the end zone for the winner.”
Gangi had 200 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-34 passing with two interceptions.
Arkansas State’s Justice Hansen threw for 275 yards, but also had three interceptions — two in the end zone — after throwing six during the regular season. Warren Wand ran for 140 yards for the Red Wolves.
“Honestly, I feel like I let them down,” Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson said. “My job as the head coach and offensive coordinator is to put points on the board and we just left too many.”
UNR and Arkansas State came to the desert known for their prolific quarterbacks and high-scoring ways. Neither showed up in a stuck-in-the-mud first half.
Both quarterbacks airmailed receivers multiple times, including one by Hansen that was intercepted at the Wolf Pack 20.
Gangi opened 1 for 6 and hit a few passes after that, setting up Ramiz Ahmed’s 36-yard field goal. UNR had 72 total yards at halftime, yet only trailed 7-3.
Hansen was a bit more effective despite the pick, setting up the Red Wolves for three scoring chances. They converted one: Marcel Murray’s 2-yard TD run.
The earlier field goal fiascos seemed to have an impact on play calling the opening drive the second half. Instead of attempting a field at fourth-and-goal from the 4, the Red Wolves tried a trick play. The Wolf Pack sniffed it out and stuffed offensive lineman Lanard Bonner after he caught a back pass from Hansen.
Arkansas State again had the ball inside UNR’s 10 the next series after an interception, but the Wolf Pack intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone.
Next two series, same thing: Arkansas State interception, UNR interception in the end zone.
“Obviously, a rough day for us,” Anderson said.