Photo Courtesy of Louisiana Tech Athletic Media Relations
The Fresno State football team avoided a major letdown at Utah State â€“ just barely.
Coming off a bye week, the Bulldogs needed a 38-second drive orchestrated by Tom Brandstater, and the longest kick in school history, 58 yards, by Kevin Goessling to stave off an upset.
The 30-28 win over the Utah State Aggies saved the season from a downward spiral and kept the Bulldogs undefeated on the road.
As Goessling was carried off the field, the fans remained in their seats at Romney Stadium, stunned at what had just occurred on their homecoming.
â€œHaving the support of my team and then having them put me on their shoulders was the best feeling Iâ€™ve had as an athlete,â€ Goessling said.
While the victory did little to change the perception that the Bulldogs play down to the level of their competition, the win did improve the Bulldogsâ€™ record to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the WAC.
However, the Bulldogs have put that game behind them and have shifted their focus to the other Bulldogs in the conference, Louisiana Tech.
With both teams having the same mascot, the rivalry has garnered the title â€˜The Battle of the Bone.â€™
Louisiana Tech comes into the game at 3-4 (1-2 WAC), and is coming off a 14-7 loss to Army last weekend.
Fresno State leads â€˜The Battle of the Boneâ€™ series 6-3. With a win Saturday, the Fresno State Bulldogs will become bowl eligible.
Coach Pat Hill recognizes the importance of the upcoming game.
â€œBecoming eligible with four games remaining would be a great accomplishment,â€ Hill said. â€œEvery game is a must-win for us, and we all know, no win comes easy.â€
Louisiana Techâ€™s record is a bit deceiving. Every loss for Louisiana Tech has come on the road, and to quality teams. Its losses have come from Kansas, Boise State, Hawaii and Army. But at Joe Aillet stadium in Ruston, La., the Bulldogs of Louisiana are undefeated.
Hill feels Louisiana Tech is better than its record shows.
â€œThey are a much tougher team at home, and weâ€™ll have to pick up our play from last weekend,â€ Hill said.
Fresno State defeated Louisiana Tech last year at Bulldog Stadium 17-6, and won a tough game in 2006 at Joe Aillet stadium 34-27. Fresno Stateâ€™s last loss in the series was in 2005 at home, 40-28.
Some good news for the team is they will most likely get some key performers back in action this weekend. Top defensive lineman Jon Monga, safety Marvin Haynes and tight end Bear Pascoe look to get back onto the field.
Monga has missed three games due to a knee injury, Pascoeâ€™s injured ankle has kept him out of the last two and Haynesâ€™ injured back caused him to miss the last game.
â€œTheyâ€™re tough competitors and some of the toughest guys on the team,â€ Hill said. â€œThis weekend, they should all be able to give it a go.â€
The Bulldogs are getting healthy at an important stretch in the season and are currently third in the conference. Fresno Stateâ€™s hopes for a conference title remain very much alive. The team is a game behind Boise State and ends the season at Boise.
Hill said the kick last weekend was not only good for Goessling, but huge for the team.
â€œIt kept us in the WAC race,â€ Hill said. â€œWe still hold our own destiny.â€
Goessling gets awards
Fresno State kicker Kevin Goessling was named Special Team Player of the Week by the Western Athletic Conference for his performance last weekend in Logan, Utah.
Goessling was 3-for-4 on field goals, including a 58-yarder at the end of regulation to lift the Bulldogs to victory.
The redshirt freshman was also recognized as Fresno State Student Athlete of the Week.
Several key players for Fresno State are currently sidelined with injuries.
The list includes defensive lineman Jon Monga, tight end Bear Pascoe, free safety Marvin Haynes, tailback Lonyae Miller, kick returner/cornerback A.J. Jefferson and wide receiver Marlon Moore.
Getting to know the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs…
2007 Record: 6-7 (4-4 in the WAC)
The story so far: Louisiana Tech has been strong at home, starting the season with a win over Mississippi State, but has yet to win a road game, resulting in a 3-4 record. The Bulldogs have rotated quarterbacks this season, but may have found some stability with sophomore Ross Jenkins. Louisiana Tech still has plenty to play for, as it could become bowl eligible before the end of the season.
Impact Players: Offense – Tailback Daniel Porter – The junior has established himself as the featured back, starting over senior Patrick Jackson. Porter has rushed for 501 yards and three touchdowns this season while averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
Defense – Safety Antonio Baker – Baker is second in the WAC with 68 tackles, averaging 9.7 tackles per game. The safety will play strong in run support against Fresno State. The junior can also defend the pass well; he has two interceptions this season.
The Buzz: For the second straight week, Fresno State will be the visitors at a homecoming game. Coach Pat Hill needs to stress to his team that nothing is different in a homecoming game. That shouldnâ€™t be a problem, as the Bulldogs have established themselves as road warriors. Fresno State is 4-0 on the road, but Louisiana Tech is 3-0 at Joe Aillet Stadium. Something has to give in this â€˜Battle of the Bone.â€™