Quarterback Derek Carr finds his main target
Jalen Saunders for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Dalton Runberg / The Collegian
Fresno State traveled to Reno, Nev. for a dogfight with the only other undefeated team in the Western Athletic Conference.
The Wolf Pack started off fast with freshman quarterback Cody Fajardo hit senior wide receiver Rishard Mathews with a 58-yard pass to put Nevada in scoring position. Fresno State would come up with a big stop to hold the Wolf Pack to a 22-yard field goal by junior Allen Hardinson to give Nevada the 3-0 lead.
Mathews wasn’t done making plays on the next Wolf Pack possession, he took a punt to the house for an 86-yards to give Nevada the 10-0 lead.
Now it was Fresno State’s time to answer back with junior running back Robbie Rouse putting the ‘Dogs within striking distance of the Nevada lead, 10-7.
On the next drive, Nevada converted another big play with senior wide receiver Shane Anderson catching a 55-yard pass to put the Wolf Pack in Bulldog territory. Fresno State’s defense bent but didn’t break as they held Nevada to another Hardinson field goal to give the Wolf Pack the 13-7 lead.
Sophomore quarterback Derek Carr made his presence felt on the following drive as he led the ‘Dogs on a 15 play drive. On the drive, Fresno State mixed up the pass and the run to drive down the field. Carr found top target sophomore wide receiver Jalen Saunders for a 6-yard touchdown pass to give Fresno State its first lead of the game, 14-13. Carr finished the game going 20 of 37 for 315 yards and three touchdown passes.
Nevada let the pack loose on the next drive with junior running back Mike Ball out running the Bulldogs’ defense for a 35-yard gain. Ball finished off the drive with an 18-yard pass from Fajardo to give the Wolf Pack the 20-14 lead.
It was Carr’s turn on the next drive as he led Fresno State down the gridiron with a variety of runs and passes. The ‘Dogs had to settle for a senior Kevin Goessling 22-yard field goal after the Nevada defense came up with the stop in the red zone. The Wolf Pack still led 20-17.
With only seconds left on the clock, Nevada raced down the field before the half to get into Hardinson’s field goal range and he hit a 48-yarder to give the Wolf Pack the 23-17 lead at halftime.
Senior wide receiver Devon Wylie finally got his hands on the ball and it took two quarters, but he made it worth the wait with his 71-yard catch. Freshman wide receiver Victor Dean made the biggest play of his short collegiate career with a 9-yard touchdown catch from Carr to give the ‘Dogs the 24-23 lead.
Fresno State’s defense finally got a stop with junior defensive end Matt Akers getting the first Bulldogs’ sack of the game, but Wylie would lose a fumble in the end zone. Nevada would recover to take the lead 30-24.
The game would turn into a defensive battle after that as both teams coming up short on multiple drives. The Wolf Pack defense forced a Bulldog fumble to give Nevada the ball with a short field to work with. Nevada got down into field goal range, but Fresno State blocked another field goal.
With only six minutes left in the game, Nevada drove down the field with a heavy dose of Ball that ended in a 16-yard touchdown to extend Nevada’s lead to 37-24.
Fresno State would not quit as they raced down the field with Carr utilizing his weapons. The best weapon was Rouse as he put the exclamation point on the drive with a 25-yard touchdown run to cut the score to 37-31 with a couple minutes left in the game. Rouse had a workmanlike performance with 24 carries for 167 yards and two touchdowns.
Nevada would utilize the pass and the run, ending the drive with a Fajardo 23-yard touchdown run to give the Wolf Pack a 45-31 lead. Fajardo finished the game 19 of 27 for 313 yards and one touchdown pass.
Carr and company were still not done as he lead another late drive to bring the ‘Dogs within seven, 45-38.
Ball would be Nevada’s closer as he got the key first down to put the game out of reach, 45-38. Ball pounded the rock all game with 26 carries for 198 yards and one touchdown.
Fresno State will get back to WAC play against Louisiana Tech in couple weeks, as they will have their bye week.