Apr 25, 2019
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Fresno State defensive linemen Ricky McCoy lifts the Valley Trophy following the Bulldogs’ 31-13 victory over San Jose State on Nov. 24, 2018. (Jose Romo/ The Collegian)

Bulldogs come alive in second half to defeat long time rival San Jose State

In the last home game of the regular season, the Fresno State Bulldogs faced their long standing in-state rival the San Jose State Spartans on Senior Day. The Bulldogs honored 27 senior players in their last home game of their collegiate career.

With an attendance of a little more than 26,000 people, the Bulldogs defeated the Spartans 31-13 to finish the regular season with an overall record of 10-2.

Quarterback Marcus McMaryion talked about this being his last game at Bulldog stadium and his feelings on his two years at Fresno State.

“I couldn’t imagine ending my career anywhere else, I really don’t feel like I deserve all the success I had here, but I’m glad I did.”

The game began with with a big kick return by wide receiver Jamire Jordan for 65 yards, setting up the Bulldogs inside Spartan territory. However, the ‘Dogs couldn’t capitalize and eventually missed the field goal attempt.

Throughout the entire first quarter, neither the Bulldogs nor the Spartans could gather any momentum, with both defenses shutting down the opponent’s offense. Fresno State didn’t manage to convert a single third down in the first quarter.

The offensive struggles continued in the second quarter, with both teams having to punt in its first possession.

With four minutes left in the quarter, the Spartans finally gathered some momentum and managed to get to the Bulldogs 31-yard-line, but were unable to convert a fourth down, turning the ball over to the ‘Dogs.

The Bulldogs were looking to get some points before the end of the first half and with a few carries by running backs Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims, followed by a 16-yard pass from Marcus McMaryion to Jordan, they were at the Spartan’s 25-yard-line with about two minutes left in the half.

With only 18 seconds left, the Bulldogs were on the Spartan’s 15-yard-line.

After a five yard gain followed by a five yard loss, the Bulldogs tried a pass to the endzone on third down that was knocked down, leaving the Bulldogs with a fourth down and seven seconds left in the half.

The Bulldogs kicked a field goal, leaving the fist half with a 3-0 lead.

In the second half, it seemed as if nothing changed for the Bulldogs, as they continued to struggle to get first downs. However, the defense shut down the Spartans, keeping the Bulldogs in front.

Finally, the ‘Dogs managed to gain some continuity with back-to-back first downs, thanks to a 10-yard reception by wide receiver Keesean Johnson and a 17-yard run by Mims.

The Bulldogs’ first touchdown of the game came, in part, thanks to a pass from McMaryion to Johnson for 45 yards, which left them at the 1-yard-line. On the very next play, Mims punched it in from a yard out to register the first touchdown and give the ‘Dogs a 10-0 lead.

After the defense stopped the Spartan’s offense and force a punt, the Bulldog’s offense got to work moving the ball down the field. McMaryion and Johnson hooked up twice during the drive, once for 37 yards and then again for a 31-yard touchdown.

The Spartans, however, answered quickly in the fourth quarter with a touchdown of their own, thanks to a 73-yard pass from quarterback Micha Carrillo to receiver Malik Roberson, cutting down the Bulldogs’ lead to 10.

With momentum still on its side, Fresno State continued to push the ball down the field to the Spartan’s red zone. The Bulldogs would score once again, thanks to an 18-yard pass from McMaryion to Rivers for a touchdown, making the score 24-7.

After the ‘Dogs again shut down San Jose State’s offense, the offense returned to the field. McMaryion continued to find Johnson, this time for a 37-yard gain.

The Bulldogs would find their offensive drive cut short due to a fumble at the Spartans’ 25-yard-line by running back Josh Hokit.

San Jose State took advantage of the fumble, making it all the way to the Bulldogs redzone, mostly thanks to two big Fresno State penalties. The Spartans tried to pass the ball, but the pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by linebacker Arron Mosby, giving the Bulldogs a 31-7 lead.

After a good kick return put them inside Bulldog territory, the Spartans tried to go deep on first down, but were unsuccessful. However, they managed to get inside of the Bulldogs’ 20 yard line due to a pass interference call on the the Bulldogs.

The Spartans got on the board once again with a pass, but failed the two point conversion, making the score 31-13.With less than two minutes left in the game, Fresno State’s offense went out and took a knee to end the game.

Johnson finished with seven receptions for 173 yards and a touchdown. Johnson became Fresno State’s all-time leader in receiving yards.

“It’s a good accomplishment and I feel grateful for it and grateful for my teammates… they make me better,” Johnson said.

After the game, coach Jeff Tedford said that the team seemed to be ready to play, but the sparse attendance had an impact on the atmosphere. Tedford also talked about how his team handled the struggles in the first half.

“Nothing was really going our way, but nobody panicked,” Tedford said. “We knew we were going to get to this [errors] in the second half. I’m really proud of these [seniors] and how they approach their work and how they behave themselves.”

The ‘Dogs will travel back to Boise Dec. 1 to face the Broncos for the Mountain West championship game. Fresno State lost to Boise State last season in the championship game, 17-14.

 

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