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Carr, Evans help ’Dogs debut in MWC with a bang

Wide receiver Rashad Evans breaks a tackle en route to gaining a 51-yard reception.

As of late, it seems that records are being broken every time a game is played at Bulldog Stadium.

In Fresno State’s Mountain West Conference debut, a 52-40 drubbing of San Diego State, quarterback Derek Carr completed 42 of 56 passes for a career-high 536 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. His 42 completions and 579 yards of total offense set new school and Mountain west records.  He was one yard shy of tying the Mountain West record for passing yards in a game.

Fresno State is 11th in Football Subdivision rankings for passing yards—averaging 335 passing yards per game.

“Take that Dave,” Carr said jokingly and in reference to his brother, David, a former Fresno State quarterback. “It’s fun. This program means the most to me.”

Fresno State (3-2, 1-0 MWC) powered through San Diego State’s 3-3-5 defense, while the Bulldogs’ high-speed spread offense ran 86 plays and finished with 655 total yards.

Saturday’s game was only the second time in school history where three players—Rashad Evans (100 yards and three touchdowns on 10 receptions), Davante Adams (102 yards on eight receptions) and Josh Harper (120 yards and a score on nine receptions)—had more than 100 yards receiving.

In his season debut after serving a four-game suspension, Evans led the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns. One of his receptions, a 51-yard pass from Carr, was the longest of the night.

“I thought it was a nice coming out party,” coach Tim DeRuyter said. “He’s been frustrated the last four weeks. It was nice to get him involved, and I thought he took advantage of the opportunity that he had.

“We still run our base offense, but there’s still one more electric player that they have to be concerned about. That’s the beauty of the spread offense.”

In Saturday’s high-scoring conference opener, the Bulldogs and the Aztecs combined for a total of nine turnovers. San Diego State threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles. Carr threw two interceptions and running back Robbie Rouse lost two fumbles in the first half.

One of Carr’s interceptions was returned for 96 yards by San Diego State’s Leon McFadden for a touchdown.

“Stupid decision. It happens,” Carr said. “[When] you throw the ball 56 times, not all of them are going to be perfect.”

Fresno State’s long-anticipated debut in the Mountain West was, at some points, a nail-biting shootout. Against San Diego State, the Bulldogs faced two 14-point deficits in the first quarter, trailing 14-0 and 21-7 – and were also behind 40-36 early in the third.

“When the score got to 21-7, I was pretty upset,” safety Phillip Thomas said. “I knew we were a way better defense than what we were showing at that point.”

Thomas picked off two of Aztecs quarterback Ryan Katz’s three interceptions. He has five interceptions for the season.

DeRuyter said, “I believe in this team. I believe we have a lot of high-character guys on this team. I wanted to have our guys in that situation, and I guess it’s a little bit of a leap of faith until they’re actually put in that situation. I wanted to see it proven. Our guys proved it tonight.”

Saturday’s announced Homecoming crowd of 33,894 was Bulldog Stadium’s largest in two years. At home, Fresno State has outscored opponents, 158-64.

“As I looked up, it looked pretty close to full,” DeRuyter said. “In the middle of the game, it was really rocking. That’s a big momentum pump for our guys.”