Sep 16, 2019
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Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah dashes past the Fresno State defense during the Bulldogs' 55-19 loss to the Huskers Saturday. Photo by Khlarissa Agee/The Collegian

Football: Huskers spoil home opener, ‘Dogs fall to 0-3

Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah dashes past the Fresno State defense during the Bulldogs' 55-19 loss to the Huskers Saturday. Photo by Khlarissa Agee/The Collegian

Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah dashes past the Fresno State defense during the Bulldogs’ 55-19 loss to the Huskers Saturday. Photo by Khlarissa Agee/The Collegian

For the first time since Nov. 26, 2011, and in head coach Tim DeRuyter’s tenure, the Fresno State football team lost a game at Bulldog Stadium Saturday.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers stormed into Fresno and snapped the ‘Dogs’ 13-game home win streak, dropping Fresno State to 0-3 on the year.

The 55-19 defeat marks the third game in a row in which the Bulldogs have given up 50 or more points.

“I didn’t think that today we had a lack of competitiveness, I thought we got outclassed today,” DeRuyter said. “We have a young football team that is trying to gel, and when you hit adversity it’s difficult. Three straight games now, we haven’t started very well. Once we got into the flow of the game, I thought we competed much better. But clearly we weren’t good enough again today. You have to give Nebraska credit, they have an excellent football team.”
The Huskers pounced on the Bulldogs early and often, scoring two touchdowns in the first two minutes and 57 seconds of play.

Wideout Jordan Westerkamp took advantage of a busted coverage in the secondary by Fresno State and hauled in a 70-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. for Nebraska’s first score of the game.

On the Huskers’ ensuing drive, running back Ameer Abdullah broke free for a 57-yard touchdown run to give his team the 14-0 advantage. He finished the evening with 110 rushing yards on 19 carries.

The Bulldogs got on the board with a safety after a Husker made contact with a pooch punt and the ball rolled out of the back of the end-zone, resulting in two points.

Freshman kicker Kody Kroening nailed the first field goal of his career from 27 yards out after missing a 30-yard attempt the quarter prior, but by then the Huskers had already built a 27-5 lead.

Quarterback Brian Burrell scored the first touchdown of the game for the Bulldogs on a 66-yard touchdown read-option run, and midway through the fourth quarter, he tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Delvon Hardaway for the freshman’s first touchdown as a Bulldog.

“They’re just good and you have to give them credit,” Burrell said. “They have a good pass rush, they cover guys down the field and they made me hold the ball too long. They were a well-rounded defense.”
For the first time this season, Burrell played the entire game. The junior signal caller completed 30 of 59 attempts for 241 yards and accounted for two scores.

The Huskers were able to pose problems all night, consistently racking up big plays, an area where the Bulldogs have struggled in each contest, so far.

Senior safety Derron Smith had six tackles – five solo and one assisted – and Shannon Edwards led the team with seven.

“As a defense, you have to limit those big plays, and we haven’t done a good job of that obviously,” Smith said. “Busted coverages, missed gap fits, missed tackles, all those things continued to hurt us from Week 1 to Week 3, so we have to get back to practice and fix it.”

Smith stressed the importance of “sticking together” despite the loss.

“ [In] times like this,” he said, “teams can either start their season getting going the next week, or they can keep going in the wrong direction and start pointing fingers. So as a captain, I and some of the upper classmen definitely need to do a good job of leading and make sure everybody sticks together, lock arms, get back to practice and move on to the next week.”

With the Bulldogs’ three-game stretch of opponents from power conferences now over, they can now focus on Mountain West play. The team will seek to win its first game of the season Saturday night when it hosts Big Sky Conference-member Southern Utah. The week after, Fresno State travels to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for its first conference matchup of the season.

“We have to regroup from here,” DeRuyter said. “As bad as we feel right now, our major goal is still ahead of us, and that is to win the Mountain West Conference.

“We have to make Bulldog Stadium our stadium and protect it, and those things are still ahead of us. We’re going to figure out what we have to do and come back Monday with a renewed spirit and get this thing back on track.”

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