Senior running back Robbie Rouse rushes through a hole in the Wildcats’ defense. Rouse is only 193 yards from from tying Ron Rivers record. Photos by Roe Borunda / The Collegian

Rouse breaks all-time rushing record in historic first half

Senior running back Robbie Rouse rushes through a hole in the Wildcats’ defense. Rouse is only 193 yards from from tying Ron Rivers record.
Photos by Roe Borunda / The Collegian

It probably couldn’t have happened under more ideal circumstances.

En route to Fresno State’s 69-14 dismantling of the Colorado Buffaloes (0-3), senior running back Robbie Rouse broke the school’s all-time record in rushing yards previously set by former Bulldog great Ron Rivers.

It was on his ninth and final carry of the game. It was during the first play of Fresno State’s fifth offensive drive.

It was on a 94-yard touchdown score where he scurried through Colorado defenders from one end zone to the other as fellow receivers Josh Harper and Davante Adams picked up blocks for him as far as 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.

It was in the first quarter. Fresno State (2-1) had just stretched its lead over the Buffaloes 35-0.

“It was better than I ever imagined,” Rouse said. “I never imagined that the record would be broken on a 94-yard run.”

The announced crowd of 27,513 chanted Rouse’s name after he crossed the plane for the touchdown. Despite it being the fifth straight home game with a crowd under 30,000, Bulldog Stadium—for that moment—seemed to roar as loud as one with a sold-out crowd.

With 146 rushing yards and two scores on only nine carries, Rouse leads Fresno State running backs with 3,539 career rushing yards. Rouse also had four receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns.

“I was extremely excited for and proud of Robbie Rouse,” coach Tim DeRuyter said.

“Robbie would be the first one to tell you he knows it’s not just him. But for him to get the all-time record, especially in the way he did it. I was really happy for him. It couldn’t have gone to a better high-character guy.”

Against a Pac-12 team that appeared to look more like an overwhelmed Football Championship Subdivision opponent, Rouse’s overall first-half production –186 total yards, two rushing and two receiving touchdowns—outmatched Colorado’s 123 total yards. The Buffaloes finished with 278 yards of total offense.

Rouse’s record-breaking run tied for the school’s longest run.

But Rouse wasn’t the only one to break records on Saturday.

Fresno State’s 55 first-half points were the most points scored by a Mountain West team in the first two quarters of a game. The Bulldogs’ 35-point scoring frenzy in the first quarter broke the Mountain West record for most points scored in the first 15 minutes of regulation.

The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on their first six offense drives. Fresno State got off to a 28-0 start with over five minutes left in the first while possessing the football for four minutes, 51 seconds.

The Bulldogs’ 665 total yards on offense is a season high.

“News flash: that’s going to be our strategy for the year,” DeRuyter said. “We’re going to try to start fast and get people on their heels.”

Quarterback Derek Carr’s 97-yard pass to junior receiver Isaiah Burse in the first quarter tied the Mountain West record for longest touchdown reception. Carr completed 17 of 22 passes for 300 yards, five touchdowns and an interception.

“We had a false start the play before and they kind of showed me their coverage, so I signaled him a different route based on what coverage they showed,” Carr said.

“When we lined up, sure enough they were in that same coverage. I just looked at him and gave him the thumbs-up.”

Safety Phillip Thomas’s three interceptions tied a Mountain West record. Two of those interceptions were returned for scores from 43 and 16 yards out. Fresno State intercepted four passes in the game.

“I guess the quarterback thought I was the weak link out there… 10 other guys on the field were either out there getting pressure or covering their guys good that the quarterback thought he should pick on me,” Thomas said. “It’s the product of a whole defense.”

Fresno State will close its nonleague schedule next Saturday at Tulsa. The Bulldogs will enter conference play in the Mountain West on Sept. 29 when they host San Diego State.