In a thrilling double overtime game, the Fresno State football team was defeated at home by the University of Minnesota Gophers 38-35 Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium in the second game of the 2019 season.
It was a deja vu loss for the Bulldogs: a pass intercepted in the endzone. But this time, it happened at home and in double overtime. Last week, the Bulldogs’ loss against the Trojans came thanks to an interception in the endzone. And a year ago, the Bulldogs lost the same way in Minnesota.
The Gophers struck quickly against the Bulldogs, putting up the first touchdown of the game in their first offensive series. The ‘Dogs were unable to stop Minnesota’s run game for much of the drive, giving up a 15-yard touchdown pass and the first points of the game.
Fresno State tried to answer Minnesota with a drive of their own, going all the way to the Gophers’ 34-yard-line, thanks to some good plays by quarterback Jorge Reyna.
However, the Bulldogs were not able to convert on third down and had to settle for a three-point attempt. The kick was unsuccessful for Fresno State, which had to turn over the ball to the Gophers.
The Gophers were running down the field and into Bulldogs territory, when Minnesota’s running back Mohamed Ibrahim fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Bulldogs.
Fresno State was not able to capitalize on the fumble and were forced to punt the ball back to the Gophers.
After a 50-yard punt by Blake Cusick, the Bulldogs’ defense was able to stop the Gophers from gaining any momentum, forcing them to punt.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs finally got on the board, thanks to a 48-yard kick by Cesar Silva, cutting Minnesota’s lead to four points.
The Gophers were able to score on the next drive, thanks in part to a helmet-to-helmet personal foul committed by Arron Mosby, who was ejected from the game. Minnesota added to its lead, making the score 14-3 in the second quarter.
In the next drive, the Bulldogs were having trouble with Minnesota’s rush defense and looked to be destined for another punt. However, a 15-yard personal foul penalty gave the Bulldogs a fresh set of downs.
Fresno State was able to turn the momentum from the penalty into points, thanks to Reyna’s 25-yard pass to a wide open Ronnie Rivers, scoring the Bulldogs the first touchdown of the night.
After a couple of possessions from each team, both sides went into halftime with more to prove.
The Bulldogs started the third quarter of the game with possession of the ball. They were able to march down the field into Minnesota territory and come out with three points, making the score 14-13.
Only down by one point, it was the Bulldogs’ defense’s turn to show up, and they did, generating and recovering a fumble in the middle of the field, giving the ball back to the ‘Dogs’ offense.
After the fumble recovery, the Bulldogs’ offense was able to go down the field into Minnesota territory. Fresno State took the lead for the first time in the game, thanks to a Reyna 14-yard pass to tight end Jared Rice, and after a two point conversion, the Bulldogs went up 21-14.
The fourth quarter started with Minnesota driving the ball into Bulldog territory. Minnesota scored the tying touchdown, thanks to a 1-yard run by Ibrahim.
The Bulldogs’ offense struggled to make anything happen in the next drive, however, Minnesota muffed the consequent punt, which was recovered by the Bulldogs in Minnesota’s territory.
After the muffed punt and recovery, the Bulldogs’ offense got going, and Reyna decided to call his own number close to the Minnesota endzone and scored a 2-yard touchdown.
Fresno State took the lead 28-21 in the fourth quarter with less than six minutes left on the clock.
The Gophers ran the ball into Bulldog territory, however, poor clock management and penalties forced them to try to convert on fourth and long with less than a minute on the clock.
With one last chance in the game, Minnesota passed the ball to the corner of the endzone, where wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell made a catch, leaving one foot on the ground to score a game-tying touchdown.
In overtime, the Bulldogs had the first chance on offense. After a pair of first downs and a roughing the passer penalty, Fresno State was able to score. Rivers caught a 5-yard pass from Reyna, giving the Bulldogs the lead in overtime.
After the touchdown, an unsportsmanlike foul by the Bulldogs left Minnesota with a short field to score the tying touchdown. A quarterback keeper by Minnesota tied it all up and carried the game to a second overtime.
Minnesota started the second overtime with the ball. However, the Bulldogs’ defense stopped Minnesota on third down, forcing them to kick a field goal.
On offense, the Bulldogs came out throwing the ball, but Reyna’s pass was intercepted in the endzone and returned for two yards.
The interception ended the game, giving the Bulldogs their second loss of the season 38-35.
Head coach Jeff Tedford said during a press conference after the game that this was a learning opportunity for his team, and that he liked how his team came back from a deficit and had a real chance at winning the game.
“I could never question our team’s competitive instincts — how hard we played…sooner or later, we’re going to get over the hump, because we have those attributes in the locker room,” Tedford said. “There is a lot of football left, and we’ll have more opportunities to go out and play.”