Oct 15, 2019
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Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers gets through several USC defenders during an away game at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (Nugesse Ghebrendrias/Contributor)

Bulldogs lose opener against Trojans

The Fresno State football team traveled south to face the University of Southern California Trojans in the opening game of the 2019 football season. The Trojans took the victory from the Bulldogs 31-23 during a thrilling game at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday, August 31, 2019.

The Bulldogs started the game slowly allowing the Trojans to get down the field on an 81-yard drive and score the first touchdown of the game.

Fresno State tried to answer the Trojans quickly, moving the ball into USC territory, but a turn-over by quarterback Jorge Reyna would give the Trojans the ball. 

The Trojans again got moving and quickly managed to get another touchdown on the scoreboard.

Down 14-0, the Bulldogs needed to respond before the game started to get out of hand.

The Bulldogs’ offense finally responded with some positive gains by running back Ronnie Rivers and some great decision making by Reyna, giving the ‘Dogs a field goal and making the score 14-3.

In the start of the second quarter the Trojans added to their lead, but this time only three points thanks to the Bulldogs defense ability to put pressure on the Trojans quarterback slowing their attack. 

After the Bulldogs defense stopped the Trojans inside their own 10-yard-line, the ‘Dogs’ offense was able to take advantage of the short field, scoring the first touchdown of the night for Fresno State and cutting USC’s lead to only seven points.

The touchdown came thanks to a 34-yard pass from Reyna to wide receiver Derrion Grim who held on to the ball even though a Trojan defender was on top of him.

Just before the end of the first half the Trojans starting quarterback, JT Daniels, went down with a leg injury forcing USC to use backup freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis for the remainder of the game.

The first half ended with the score at 17-10. With the Bulldogs playing a better second quarter and making the game more competitive, expectations were high for the second half. 

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs scored the first points of the half with a field goal by kicker Cesar Silva from the Trojans 46-yard-line. 

However, the Trojans answered right away when the ensuing kick was returned for 100 yards by the Trojans Velus Jones.

The Trojans continued their dominance in the third quarter adding one more touchdown just before the end of the quarter.

With a score of 31-13, the Bulldogs faced an uphill battle in the fourth.

Fresno State cut USC’s lead with a field goal just within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, making the score 31-16.

After a Bulldog defensive stand which saw the Trojans go 0-3 in their first drive of the quarter, the ‘Dogs’ offense came alive with another touchdown. 

The score came thanks to a 69-yard drive that the Bulldogs capped with an 8-yard pass from Reyna to wide receiver Chris Coleman, making the score 31-23.

With just over two minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs regained possession of the ball at their own 49-yard-line.

After three consecutive incomplete passes, the ‘Dogs converted on fourth down thanks to Coleman who again grabbed Reyna’s 36-yard pass to the Trojans 15-yard-line. 

However, Reyna’s next pass would be intercepted in the endzone, giving the Trojans the ball back with less than two minutes left. 

USC ran out the clock, ending the game and giving the Bulldogs their first loss of the season and the first opening game loss in three seasons. 

“I am proud of the team for the way that they competed and fought until the very end. But at the end of the day, it is all about winning the game, and we didn’t get that done,” Head Coach Jeff Tedford said in an interview with Fresno State Athletics. “We will go back, look at this and learn from it. We look to improve off of it.”

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