Game-changing moment: first quarter safety
Already up 7-0 early in the contest, New Mexico State shot itself in the foot deep in its own territory. Aggie starting quarterback Andrew Manley couldn’t field an errant shotgun snap and was forced to fall on the ball in his own end zone for a safety. The defensive unit put Fresno State up by two scores 9-0, and the ‘Dogs didn’t look back.
Unsung hero: Derron Smith, free safety
Smith had his number called to start Saturday in Phillip Thomas’ replacement. Smith answered the call with seven tackles and a tackle for a loss. Smith, a true freshman, kept all receivers in front of him and surrendered no big plays, something head coach Pat Hill has stressed in recent weeks.
Fresno State sealed the deal when…
…quarterback Ryan Colburn play actioned on the Aggie three-yard line, rolled left and found Tapa Taumoepeau wide open in the flats for the only aerial touchdown of the night. The score extended Fresno State’s lead to 30-3 just before halftime. The 27-point margin proved to be more than enough for the ‘Dogs to cruise to their fourth victory of the season.
Interesting stat of the game: breaking off the long runs
In five games this year, Fresno State had just one run of more than 30 yards or longer. But Robbie Rouse and Isaiah Burse broke that dry spell against New Mexico State, running from 57, 38, and 30 yards out, all for touchdowns. Rouse’s 57-yard dart was the longest run by a Bulldog at home since Ryan Mathews’ 57-yard run against San Jose State last year.
Call of the game: Burse on the reverse
True freshman Isaiah Burse has taken on a more prominent role in recent weeks and hasn’t disappointed. On Fresno State’s third drive of the game, Burse took a double reverse 30 yards into the end zone and put the ‘Dogs up 16-0 with 3:15 remaining in the first quarter.
Dog bone giveaway: Chris Carter, defensive end
On a defensive line that has been mostly noted due to Logan Harrell’s dominance this season, Carter had his night in the spotlight Saturday. Playing in his final game against New Mexico State, Carter tore through the Aggie offensive line en route to nine tackles, three sacks, four tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.
What we learned:
It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t flashy, but the ‘Dogs got the job done in typical fashion for a Pat Hill-coached squad. The Fresno State offense chewed up the clock with 37 rushing attempts, 16 coming off Robbie Rouse’s 150-yard effort on the night. Coming off a poor performance in just about every aspect of the game against Hawaii the previous week, the ‘Dogs regrouped and easily handled a poor New Mexico State team. The defense harassed the Aggies into a quarterback change in the first half and gave up a season-low 10 points. The first half was packed with excitement with 30 points and 258 total yards. The second half was, well, conservative to say the least with just three points and less than 100 yards of offense.
The ‘Dogs desperately needed to get things going on the ground and New Mexico State was the perfect opponent to establish it with. The Aggies came into the game giving up an average of 227 rushing yards per game and the Bulldogs exploited it with 222 yards on the ground. Running back Robbie Rouse had a career night with 150 yards rushing and two touchdowns on runs of 57 yards and 38 yards. After his worst performance of the season last week, quarterback Ryan Colburn was rarely relied on, completing just 12-of-20 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. In the days leading up to the game, head coach Pat Hill stressed the Bulldogs’ offense needed to have a healthy balance of run and pass. The ‘Dogs did just that with 20 pass attempts and 37 rush attempts. One area in need of dire improvement is third down. Fresno State converted just three of 12 third downs and remains one of the worst teams in the WAC in that area.
After giving up a season-high 55 points last week to Hawaii, the defense rebounded with a dominating performance on defense. As a group, the ‘Dogs collected five sacks and nine tackles for loss. The New Mexico State offense converted only one third down conversion and was forced to punt nine times. With the defense playing exceptionally well, Coach Hill was able to play his second and third team players throughout most of the second half. The ‘Dogs played better on defense this week, but it was due to playing one of the worst offenses in the nation.