The Fresno State football team kept its Mountain West title hopes alive with a 38-24 win over in-state rival San Jose State (3-6, 2-3 MW) Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium.
The double-digit victory snaps a three-game losing streak for the Bulldogs and elevates them to third place in the West Division, just behind Nevada and San Diego State.
“I’m just really proud of our team’s effort and resolve to bounce back from last week,” Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said. “It was a great venue tonight, it was homecoming, we had the Red Wave back, and I really appreciate the crowd because they were into it. I really gave our guys a push to follow this thing through.
“Like last week, we started fast, we got punched in the mouth and they came back. It’s a rivalry, things like that happen, but I like how our guys responded. We’re finding ways in all three phases to get it done.”
A strong all-around performance paved the way for the Bulldogs all night long. However, the run game got things rolling with a 44-yard opening drive rushing touchdown up the middle from junior running back Marteze Waller to put the Bulldogs up 7-0.
The Spartans would respond with a big 51-yard run of their own from running back Tyler Ervin to tie things up midway through the first quarter.
San Jose State would capture their first and only lead of the game later in the quarter with an 86-yard catch and run from wide receiver Jabari Carr. Two Bulldogs defensive backs would run into each other on the play while attempting to intercept the ball which left nothing but open field for Carr.
Moments later on a 15-yard run, Waller would go on to become the 21st Bulldog in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards. However, he would suffer a shoulder injury and sit out the rest of the game.
“Marteze is really playing well and we’re run blocking pretty well,” DeRuyter said. “We want to take some pressure off the quarterback position and it opens up your pass game so we just thought we had a good matchup there.”
Things remained competitive until late in the second quarter when the Bulldogs and Spartans would exchange interceptions.
Fresno State quarterback would drive the Bulldogs down the field only to be picked off in the end zone by Spartans CB Jimmy Pruitt.
However, linebacker Kyrie Wilson would get the ball back for the Bulldogs after picking off SJSU quarterback Joe Gray on a screen pass on the Spartans ensuing drive.
The interception by Wilson helped set up a 2-yard touchdown between Burrell and freshman tight end Chad Olsen which tied things up at 14 apiece.
Later on with the crowd getting into it, the Bulldogs would generate 14 points in the final 1:50 of the first half from a Josh Harper 18-yard touchdown catch and a blocked punt by Da’Mari Scott that was picked up and returned 5 yards for the score by linebacker T.J. Thomas.
Coming out of the locker room, Burrell would drive the Bulldogs down the field and connect with Harper on a 19-yard pass to go up 35-14.
Harper would finish with a team-high 67 yards and two touchdowns.
The Spartans would go on to score 10-unanswered points but ultimately were not able to compete the comeback as turnovers and penalties would haunt them.
Waller finished the game with 22 carries for 146 yards and one touchdown. Quezada took over after Waller got injured and carried the ball 24 times for 117 yards.
Moving forward, the Bulldogs will have a bye followed by a road trip to Reno on Nov. 22.