Fresno State running back Josh Quezada is taken down after a carry during the Bulldogs’ 40-20 victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack. Quezada rushed for 119 yards in relief of an injured Marteze Waller. Photo by Darlene Wendels/The Collegian
Consider one part of the destiny controlled.
The rationale was simple: win this one, and the Mountain West Championship game is within reach.
The Fresno State football team marched into Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nevada, and played like a team that wanted to reach the game.
The Nevada Wolf Pack was the tougher of the two teams left on the Bulldogs’ regular-season slate. Nevada, which carried the same conference record as the ‘Dogs, was the opponent Fresno State needed to beat in order to have full control of the tiebreak.
The spectacle on the field – led by quarterback Brian Burrell’s 272 yards and five all-purpose touchdowns – was dissimilar to the ‘Dogs’ gameplay at the beginning of the season, nevertheless the last two conference away games.
Remember the matchup against UNLV, which Fresno State lost in overtime? Or remember the week after, when the ‘Dogs had to give the Milk Can back to Boise?
Well, this game was much different. All of a sudden, with the chance to reach the Mountain West Championship game for the second-straight year, the Bulldogs played like defending champions.
“In practice, [the players] had a renewed vigor,” said Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter. “They didn’t like the look of what we showed. We were embarrassed. It’s just like anything in life. We can talk to the kids all the time about how it isn’t a sin to get knocked down, but get your butt back up.”
At the beginning, it looked as if the ‘Dogs and Wolf Pack were going to go back and forth, much like the early stages of Nov. 8’s San Jose State game. Fresno State quarterback Brian Burrell’s strike to Harper put the first points on the board, and then Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo answered with not one, but two long runs to take the lead, 14-7.
Then, the momentum changed.
Burrell started clicking with his receivers, namely Aaron Peck and Greg Watson, to get the Bulldogs back on top 21-14. When Wolf Pack kicker Brent Zuzo missed his field goal – a point that would have tied the contest – Fresno State’s momentum was at full throttle.
After that, the Bulldogs capitalized. In fact, they did not allow Nevada to reach the end zone for the rest of the game.
The entire game continued Fresno State’s momentum. This year, the ‘Dogs have had a “win three games, lose three games” pattern that became very predictable at this time of the year.
Now, with consecutive win No. 2, the Bulldogs should keep their pattern and win the necessary third game in a row to close out the year.
And after that game, it will be a good time to break the pattern.