With offensive fireworks flying, Fresno State defeated San Diego State on Saturday night in its first Mountain West Conference game.
Although the Bulldogs started off slow, Fresno State was able to overcome its mistakes and outpace San Diego State to win 52-40.
“I was really proud of the way our team rebounded from a horrific start,” Coach Tim DeRuyter said.
In the first quarter, San Diego State dominated by scoring on its first two possessions of the game. With the score 14-0 early, the Bulldogs retaliated by scoring on a 1-yard run by running back Robbie Rouse.
“The difference was after our team got down 14. We came right back and showed resolve by winning the game. I really wanted to see if we could be tested, have some adversity and be able to overcome it,” DeRuyter said.
The second quarter was an entirely different story as Fresno State was able to outscore the Aztecs 29-6. The Bulldogs were able to ride the shoulders of wide receivers Davante Adams and Josh Harper early in the game to take the lead 27-21.
“The whole receiving corp did a great job coming off of last week’s game,” wide receiver Rashad Evans said. “They’ve got great hands. Our receiving corp is real good!”
The offense for Fresno State continued to click midway through the second quarter and even the defense got in on the action. With 1:17 left in the first-half, sophomore nose guard Tyeler Davison blocked an extra point try by San Diego State and safety Charles Washington returned it for a two-point conversion. The announced attendance of more than 30,000 fans started a fanatical cheering, saying, “Go, ’Dogs, go!”
“I really like the way our defense was attacking and creating takeaways,” DeRuyter said. “I just wanted to score and not let them (the opponent) score.”
The third and fourth quarters were dominated mainly by turnovers. Early in the second half with Fresno State driving, Rouse fumbled the ball and the Aztecs recovered on their own 45-yard line.
“Robbie is normally sure-handed, but he fumbled twice,” DeRuyter said. “We got to take care of the football better.”
San Diego State was able to capitalize on Fresno State’s mistake by scoring a passing touchdown. On the ’Dogs’ next possession, quarterback Derek Carr threw an interception that the Aztecs ran back for another touchdown. This consecutive score for San Diego State allowed it to go ahead 40-36.
“He made a bad decision there,” DeRuyter said. “The resolve he showed after throwing the interception, to lead our team, to continue to score and win this football game was terrific.”
However, Carr, who was encouraged by teammates after he threw his interception, was able to lead the Bulldogs to the end zone again. Throwing a 31-yard strike to wide receiver Isaiah Burse, Fresno State was able to go ahead of the Aztecs 43-40.
“Just go out and keep working hard. We just knew we needed to continue to fight,” Carr said. “After I threw that pick, I had 20 guys go up to me and say, ‘I believe in you. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re going to go down and throw a touchdown right now.’ ”
The ’Dogs were then able to clamp down on San Diego State defensively and close out the fourth quarter of the game. Safety Phillip Thomas had an interception for the fifth straight week.
“It’s big. We needed those turnovers and they came at a key moment,” Thomas said. “It’s a big momentum shift. We know we need to get turnovers.”
“To see the plays that Phillip made on the ball was tremendous,” DeRuyter added.
The Bulldogs’ defense was able to disrupt Aztecs’ quarterback Ryan Katz multiple times in the second half. Thomas easily read Katz and intercepted him twice in the game.
“We had guys who stepped up and made some plays,” DeRuyter said.
The ’Dogs were able to hold San Diego State to 46 total yards in the fourth quarter as Fresno State defeated the Aztecs to win its third consecutive home game.
“Turnovers is what wins us these games,” Thomas said.
Carr was able to set two school and conference records with his spectacular performance in the win against San Diego State. Completing 42 of 56 passes and throwing for five touchdowns, Carr also set a single-game record passing for 536 yards.
“It’s exciting. It means a lot because this program means the most to me. And I love being a Bulldog,” Carr said.
Fresno State travels to Colorado State next week to face the Rams in their second MWC game. The Bulldogs will to try to win their first road matchup of the season.
“If you can go 1-0 in this conference it’s always great,” DeRuyter said. “I have confidence in our guys to be able to find a way to win.”