The first play of the game was the indicator – like mercury measuring the day’s heat – that Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr would rewrite the school’s record books again.
He did — breaking records on a record night.
Wide receiver Davante Adams lined up on the outside to Carr’s right in that first play, single-covered by the UNLV defense and ready to run a straight vertical route.
Adams gained separation from his guy about 20 yards out. Carr threw a strike after brief hesitation – and Adams caught it and ran for a 75-yard score, nine seconds into the game.
And in the process of a 38-14 Mountain West Conference win over the Rebels Saturday at Bulldog Stadium, Carr ran his name deeper into the Fresno State record books.
Carr set the school record for career touchdown passes early in the second quarter and finished the night completing 33 of 48 passes for 412 yards and four touchdowns.
Afterward, Paul Pinegar, the previous record-holder, caught Carr on the sidelines and shook his hand in congratulations. Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter found out about it after the game.
“Were you aware of where Derek was in terms of school records?” DeRuyter was asked in the postgame press conference.
“I knew he was close. Did he get it?”
“Oh, congratulations,” he told Carr from the podium, who was sitting in one of the front rows. “During the game, I wasn’t thinking about it.”
Carr wasn’t either.
“The stats and all that are great,” he said, “and it’s going to be great for my son to look at someday, but to me, I just want to win games.”
On the field, there was no answer for Carr, who threw swing passes and deep balls, evaded pressure and gambled for yardage with his feet on a night Bulldogs of the past were there to watch.
Jeff Tedford and Kevin Sweeney, two former Fresno State quarterbacks who set records of their own in their time behind center, were there.
Fresno State football alumni – spanning decades – met the Bulldogs of the present at the 50-yard line as they grabbed a 6-0 start for the first time since 2001.
Older brother David, who manned the quarterback position that year, watched too.
“When the best quarterback to ever play here is your big brother, and you can have both your names on a book someday that says you have records together, it means a tremendous deal to me,” Carr said after the game with David, like the Boise State game, watching from a corner in the room.
“Not only is he my big brother and the best quarterback to ever play here, he’s my role model. I want to be just like him, obviously, because I came here.”
Carr also set a new school record for career pass completions (he’s 849 of 1,278 at Fresno State) and, in the third quarter, he became the third player in school history to pass for more than 10,000 yards in a career.
Carr connected with Adams for all four of his touchdown scores.
There would’ve been a fifth connection – which would’ve helped Adams set the school record for touchdown catches in a game – in the third quarter, but an offensive interference penalty voided the touchdown pass.
“We’ll tie it for now,” Adams said.