OK, so here is the side story to the Fresno State-Nevada game that we didn’t run in the paper because we ran out of space, so I’ll put it up here and I’ll give my reasons why I think Fresno State lost to Nevada.
‘Dogs missed golden opportunities
Head coach Pat Hill believed it and at no point during the game did quarterback Ryan Colburn believe that the Bulldogs were not going to win against Nevada.
But Fresno State fell just short after taking a fourth quarter 34-28 lead to lose a heartbreaking Western Athletic Conference game to the Wolf Pack 35-34 at Bulldog Stadium.
“We had our opportunities tonight to get this thing done,” Hill said. “But we just didn’t finish it.”
After linebacker Kyle Knox and cornerback Desia Dunn combined to make spectacular fourth-and-goal stop on Nevada running back Vai Taua at the Fresno State 8-yard line, the ‘Dogs had an opportunity to seal the game with 8:37 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But Colburn and the Fresno State offense couldn’t capitalize on their next possession to put the game out of reach for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Nevada offense.
On 3rd-and-8, Colburn overthrew a designed bubble screen to running back Robbie Rouse in the flats that ultimately forced the ‘Dogs to punt for only the second time in the game.
“I missed that throw,” Colburn said. “I can be honest about that. Its a tough throw because I’m fading away and he’s rolling away.”
But Colburn would get a shot at redemption after the Fresno State defense allowed a 24-yard touchdown run by Taua that gave Nevada a 35-34 lead.
With 4:44 remaining in the fourth quarter and one timeout still left in the pocket for the ‘Dogs, both Colburn and Hill expected that the ‘Dogs would win the game on the final drive.
“I really believed we were going to win that football game on that last drive,” Hill said.
After a quick 9-yard pass to receiver Jamel Hamler, Colburn and the offense looked like they were will on the way to a game-winning drive.
But the Nevada defense had other plans. After Rouse picked up a first down with a 3-yard gain following the Hamler completion, the Fresno State offense imploded.
With no sense of urgency, Hill and the coaching staff dialed up two straight running plays that generated zero yards. Facing a 3rd-and-10 situation, Colburn completed a short 5-yard pass to Rouse, forcing a 4th-and-5 from the Fresno State 45-yard line.
On fourth down, Colburn was flushed out of the pocket to his right side and was hit as he let off a pass that fell a few yards short in front of receiver Isaiah Burse.
“Its hard when you’re rolling away from your arm side,” Colburn said. “If I was rolling left I probably could have still gotten it off.”
Colburn finished the game with 194 passing yards and two touchdowns while Rouse became the first Fresno State player in Bulldog history to record back-to-back 200 yard performances with 217 yards and three total touchdowns.
The ‘Dogs will try to rebound from the loss to Nevada when it travels to face No. 3 Boise State on Friday.
“We left a lot out on the table,” Hill said. “This season’s not over, we have a lot of games left. We have to roll forward.”
Reasons why Fresno State loss
1. Failing to take advantage of the turnovers: After safety Lorne Bell made a touchdown-saving interception at the Fresno State end zone in the first quarter, the offense drove the ball into Nevada territory, but it still failed to put any points on the board after kicker Kevin Goessling missed a 55-yard field goal.
Yes the attempt was long, but that was because the play calling didn’t favor Fresno State on that last set of downs. On 2-and-7 from the NEV 30, Rouse took a handoff and was dropped for a three-yard loss. On the very next play, Colburn was sacked for a five-yard loss which would ultimately set Goessling up the long field goal. From having the chance to kick a makeable 47-yard field goal to trying a very long 55-yard field goal attempt really hurt the ‘Dogs chances of extending Fresno State’s lead.
After the Fresno State defense forced Nevada to turn the ball over on downs in the 4th quarter, the offense again failed to do anything, going three-and-out while taking less than a minute off the clock.
Fresno State’s inability to take advantage of Nevada’s costly turnovers, all but ended their chances of winning the season’s first signature game.
2. The coaching staff failing to make adjustments in the fourth quarter: For three quarters, Fresno State football dominated Nevada. But then the Nevada coaching staff made adjustments and twarted the ‘Dogs in the fourth quarter. After not blitzing much and not gambling at all against the Fresno State offense through three quarters, head coach Chris Ault and his staff finally made adjustments to their defensive game plan and dialed up blitz after blitz at Colburn and the offense. Ault took chances on defense. He loaded up the box to stop Rouse in the fourth quarter after he slashed through the Wolf Pack defense for 212 yards in only three quarters of play. Rouse gained just five yards in the fourth quarter.
For some reason, the coaching staff for Fresno State did not try or even attempt to make adjustments in the fourth quarter after it was clear that Nevada had. Fresno State out-coached Nevada for three quarters but when it counted, they got out-coached in the final quarter of play.