Rebounding from a tough loss against Boise State, the Bulldogs found their rhythm again in a crushing win over Wyoming 42-14 Saturday night.
In another spectacular offensive showing at home, Fresno State’s attacking schemes were clicking on all cylinders as it posted 394 total yards and gained 26 first downs in a route of the Cowboys.
“I was pleased that our guys were able to bounce back after a tough loss last week,” coach Tim DeRuyter said.
“The best thing about football is that you have another chance to redeem yourself and get back out there on the field and make up for the loss last week,” running back Robbie Rouse said.
With another solid offensive performance by quarterback Derek Carr and the wide receiver corps, the ’Dogs were able to spread the ball around to five different targets. Fresno State’s special teams were also able to get on the scoreboard with a stunning punt return by wide receiver Rashad Evans.
“I was also really pleased with our special teams, in particular our punt return unit, as they scored and set up a short field for us,” DeRuyter said. “He’s (Rashad) definitely a weapon for us and we were happy to see him get in the end zone.”
Wide receiver Davante Adams was also able to have an all-around performance as he led all ’Dog receivers with 11 receptions for 86 yards and one touchdown.
Field position was never a problem for Fresno State as it was able to punch multiple scores from inside the 20-yard line on all four of its first possessions.
The ’Dogs defense also played solid as it held Wyoming to only one rushing yard in the first half. The Cowboys were not able to convert on third down until midway through the third quarter.
“I think our defensive staff does a really good job of analyzing strengths and weaknesses of an offense. We had a good plan and our guys executed that plan,” DeRuyter said. “Our defense I thought played outstanding for most of the game.”
The first half featured the Bulldogs scoring two short-yardage touchdowns. Quarterback Derek Carr passed to Evans for a six-yard strike. Then on its last possession of the first half, Fresno State scored on another passing touchdown to receiver Victor Dean.
“He’s (Victor) tall and fast. He’s a good player. And he’s grown up right before our eyes,” Carr said. “I’m so happy for him. I’m more happy for him as a person rather than as a player.”
Sandwiched between these two scoring drives by the Bulldogs offense was Evans’ 78-yard punt return. After Wyoming’s drive stalled at its own 29-yard line, the Cowboys punted and Evans was able to scamper amidst teammates blocking to the end zone.
“Rashad was able to do a great job on that, but there was a bunch of guys that were sustaining blocks along the way,” DeRuyter said. “You’ve got to have a special guy like Rashad to make guys miss on a zone. But there were a lot of guys that helped spring that play.”
Fresno State’s rushing was explosive as not only Rouse, but also receiver Isaiah Burse were able to have solid games. Burse was able to get on the scoring board with a 14-yard reverse from Carr to Rouse, to Burse who then dashed past the goal line.
Wyoming was then able to capitalize on its breakthrough and score on a six-yard passing touchdown. The Bulldogs defense countered the Cowboys score with one of their own. With about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, safety Phillip Thomas intercepted the ball and took it to the end zone for a 20-yard score.
“We have guys that execute. Guys like Phillip do a great job within the scheme. If you throw the ball around him, he’s going to make you pay sometimes,” DeRuyter said.
This interception return for a touchdown marked Thomas’ third of the season. Thomas has set a Mountain West Conference record with three interceptions returned for touchdowns in the course of a single season.
“We’re taught to get the ball all year long no matter how we can get it. Strips, force fumbles, hitting the quarterback. That’s what we’re going to do all year long,” Thomas said.
The Cowboys were able to get a late score in the fourth quarter and narrow Fresno State’s lead to 42-14.
In the game against Wyoming, running back Robbie Rouse was able to go over 4,000 yards for his career and now leads as Fresno State’s all-time rushing leader.
“It’s crazy when you think about it. It’s a lot of yards,” Rouse said. “I just want to thank my teammates, my line, receivers, Derek and other players who have played with me in previous years to help me get to this point in my career.”
Quarterback Derek Carr had an effective outing as he passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns, but had an interception in the second half.
Now 3-1 in the Mountain West and 4-0 at home, the ’Dogs really enjoy the comforts of being at home. The energy that the crowd puts off seems to bolster Fresno State’s confidence as they have outscored their opponents 200-78 while playing at Bulldog Stadium this season.
“Our guys love going down the ramp. Our guys get juice off the crowd. And I thought the crowd really affected our guys,” DeRuyter said.
“Whenever we make big plays, it’s great to hear the crowd cheering for us and encourage us to want to make more big plays,” Rouse said.
The ’Dogs hit the road again to face New Mexico in conference play. Although Fresno State has seemingly been invincible at home, the road has been a different story. The Bulldogs will look to change this losing streak when they travel to Albuquerque Saturday.
“Nothing’s a given in football and you have to play hard every game, every week and practice hard every day,” Dean said.