Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville could tell his team was a "little shell shocked" at halftime.
The Red Raiders were down a touchdown and struggling to move the ball, but Tuberville said there was always belief.
"Deep down, I think everybody on the sideline felt like we can win this game, we will win this game if somebody would just step up and make a play," he said.
That play, to Tuberville, was Jarvis Phillips knocking down a pass to Nevada's Richard Matthews in the end zone as the Wolf Pack was threatening to go 35-21 in the third quarter. Instead, Nevada settled for a field goal to lead 31-21.
"I thought that was a huge play," Tuberville said.
The game was won when Seth Doege scrambled, looked right and found a wide open Eric Ward with 44 seconds left to rally the Red Raiders to a 35-34 win Saturday night.
Ward caught Doege's third TD pass of the night as the Red Raiders (3-0) came back from a 28-14 deficit midway through the third quarter.
The winning score happened on a fourth-and-three.
He threw touchdowns of 4, 8 and 2 yards en route to completing 26 of 38 passes for 222 yards.
The Red Raiders struggled on defense, giving up 562 total yards and Nevada (1-2) capitalized.
Redshirt freshman Cody Fajardo threw two touchdowns passes and ran for a 56-yarder for Nevada. He finished with 139 yards on 10 carries.
Fajardo also ran for a 6-yard touchdown and threw a 16-yard TD pass to Kolby Arendse. Mike Ball compiled 139 yards on 27 carries.
"We just have to execute on finishing more because we always practice to win," Ball said. "There were a couple of missed cues but we will fix them."
Doege looked stymied as he took the snap on the final score of the game. He back-peddled to about the 17 yard line as he scanned for an open receiver in the end zone. No one in the middle. No one on the right. He looked left and saw Ward, lofting it to him in the back corner for the winning score.
Fajardo and Tyler Lantrip shared quarterback duties for the Wolf Pack, but it was Fajardo who provided the spark. He put them up 28-14 when he faked a handoff to Ball and scampered along the right sideline to score.
"For most of the game the offense was there, defense was there," defensive lineman Brett Roy said. "We played an outstanding game up until the end. Now we've got to learn from it and play the full four quarters and not just expect the game to be won."
Nevada coach Chris Ault was not available. He was ill.
Doege found Jace Amaro for an 8-yard score to pull the Red Raiders within 28-21. Two field goals by Nevada gave the Wolf Pack a 34-28 lead before Doege led Texas Tech down the field for the winning score.
Texas Tech was without its leading receiver, Darrin Moore, for most of the game. Moore left early in the first quarter after he injured his left ankle and knee on a deep incompletion. Isaiah Frey hit Moore as he tried to catch a pass. Moore, ranked No. 2 nationally in receptions per game (11) has caught 21 passes for 339 yards. He had no catches Saturday night.
The Wolf Pack went up 14-7 near the end of the first half quarter when redshirt freshman quarterback Cody found a wide-open Kolby Arendse on the right side of the field for a 16-yard touchdown pass. On the first play of the drive, Fajardo turned a broken play into a 34-yard gain. Three plays later, he found Arendse open in the middle of the field and turned it into a 27-yard play.
Fajardo replaced starter Lantrip midway through the second quarter and led the Wolf Pack on an 83-yard scoring drive, keeping the ball on the ground for all but one play. Fajardo scored untouched on a 2-yard run around the left side for to tie it at 7-7.
Nevada held Texas Tech scoreless in the first quarter, which was a first this season for the Red Raiders. The Wolf Pack found success on the ground early while simultaneously eating clock and keeping the Red Raiders off the field. Their first scoring chance came at the end of a 14-play drive, but Anthony Martinez's 31-yard field goal missed when he hit the right upright.