Behind the arm of quarterback Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State beat the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 31-21 on the road Saturday.
The Bulldogs had a 24-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but some costly mistakes allowed Hawaii to close the gap.
“We had some good times in the game, and down the stretch we made a few mistakes that hurt us, but thankfully we made an interception at the end of the game to wrap it up,” said head coach Jeff tedford.
Fresno State received the ball to start the game but gained only 23 yards and was forced to punt. The Warriors and Bulldogs traded punts before Hawaii opened up the scoring on its second drive of the game with a 7-yard touchdown pass.
The Bulldogs stormed back in the second quarter with three McMaryion touchdown passes to put them up 21-7 at halftime.
Shortly after the game was tied at 7-7, it was delayed for 41 minutes in the second quarter because of lightning. This gave Fresno State the opportunity to make some adjustments.
“We went in and made some adjustments and came out and got 14 points afterwards, which was critical for us,” Tedford said.
The Bulldogs stopped the Warriors’ offense after halftime and responded by driving downfield and finishing with a field goal by kicker Jimmy Camacho.
On Hawaii’s ensuing possession, Fresno State linebacker Tobenna Okeke forced a fumble which defensive end Robert Stanley recovered, giving the ‘Dogs the ball at the 50-yard line.
Okeke had three sacks and forced two fumbles. He credited the defensive backs for giving him the time to make an impact.
“They held the receivers long enough for me to get back there and make those plays,” Okeke said.
Starting at the 50-yard line, Fresno State drove down the field and finished with another McMaryion touchdown. Wide receiver KeeSean Johnson caught his second touchdown of the game.
Hawaii answered with a scoring drive of its own. Quarterback Dru Brown completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dylan Collie. The Warriors made the 2-point conversion, bringing the score to 31-15.
On the ‘Dogs’ next possession, the Warriors capitalized on one of McMaryion’s few mistakes. Linebacker Solomon Matautia intercepted a pass and took it for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
With under five minutes left in the game, the Warriors came up with another interception, though this one was on a tipped pass off the hands of tight end Jared Rice.
With a chance for Hawaii to pull within three points, Fresno State defensive back Anthoula Kelly intercepted Brown in the end zone for a touchback, sealing the victory for the ‘Dogs.
McMaryion finished with 226 yards and four touchdowns. Running backs Jordan Mims, Ronnie Rivers and Josh Hokit combined for 152 yards on 33 rushes.
Fresno State is in first place in the West division with games against Wyoming and Boise State remaining. The Bulldogs only need to win one of the games to clinch the division and punch their ticket to the Mountain West championship game.
“When you are in first place in the division, teams are going to be coming for you,” Johnson said. “Hawaii is a good team, and we didn’t take this game lightly. Every game is a big game.”