David J. Phillip / AP Photo
Pat Hill and Fresno State made a big statement on Saturday in College Station.
Facing a 19-0 deficit at halftime, the Bulldogs showed resilience, pushing the No. 23 Texas A&M Aggies to triple overtime.
However, the end result would not favor the Bulldogs as they lost a heartbreaker 47-45 at Kyle Field.
â€œI have to give our kids credit for bouncing back,â€ Hill said, whose record is now 10-20 versus BCS Conference teams in his coaching tenure. â€œThey got in a hole in the first half, but battled back. We have a good young football team and hopefully we can learn from this.â€
The Bulldogs were only able to muster up 78 total yards of offense in the first half to go along with 5 first downs. The defense was dumbfounded by an option-oriented offense that gained 191 total yards in the first half.
The second half however was a different story altogether.
On the Aggiesâ€™ first possession of the second half, Fresno State linebacker Quaadir Brown sacked quarterback Stephen McGee and forced a fumble. This was a huge momentum change for the â€˜Dogs.
David J. Phillip / AP Photo
Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater would capitalize on the turnover and hit tight end Bear Pascoe on a 16-yard touchdown pass to put the score at 19-7.
The Bulldogs’ rally continued with touchdown runs from running backs Ryan Mathews and Anthony Harding, which tied the score at 22-22.
Another Aggie touchdown late in the fourth quarter made the score 29-22. But Fresno State would not be denied.
Brandstater played like there was ice in his veins with 1:52 left in the game. He found freshman wide receiver Devon Wylie on a crossing route for a 44-yard gain to put the Bulldogs at the Aggie 20-yard line. Brandstater then found Pascoe for the 3-yard score to tie up the game at 29-29.
This dramatic drive proved to be tame compared to what was to come in the overtime periods, with each team having a 25-yard field to operate on.
The Bulldogsâ€™ defense was able to force the Aggies to kick a field goal in its first overtime possession.
The Bulldog offense appeared to have won the game on its first play.
Brandstater connected with wide receiver Marlon Moore on a 24-yard pass. Moore stretched over the goal line to break the plane of the end zone but fumbled the ball, which in turn was recovered by Texas A&M.
â€œThe ball just slipped out of my hand,â€ Moore said. â€œNext time I would run the ball straight out of bounds.â€
Moore made a nearly identical mistake last weekend against Sacramento State.
After reviewing the play, officials spotted the ball at the 1-yard line. A second review however, said Moore fumbled the ball. Fresno State retained possession due to a penalty on Texas A&M for roughing the passer.
â€œThey say our receiver tried to stretch it over the goal line,â€ Hill said. â€œThat was the call and weâ€™ll live with it. Iâ€™ve never seen anything like that, but thatâ€™s how it goes. Thatâ€™s the way football is sometimes.â€
After the controversy, the Bulldogs would kick a field goal to even the score at 32-32.
In double overtime, Harding would lead the Bulldogs running attack on an 8-play drive and plunge into the end zone to put the â€˜Dogs up 39-32.
The back-and-forth game continued though as Texas A&Mâ€™s powerhouse running back Jovorskie Lane punished Bulldog defenders, running straight up the middle.
His 2-yard run would tie up the score again. Lane continued his dominance in triple overtime with another touchdown, and added a two-point conversion to put the Aggies ahead 47-39.
Lane wound up with 121 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns.
â€œThis is every running backâ€™s dream,â€ Lane said. â€œI give my o-line all the credit for my touchdowns. They did a great job.â€
Of the 397 yards Texas A&M gained on Saturday, 318 of them were on the ground.
â€œ(Lane) is a tough guy,â€ Hill said. â€œWhen they went to pound the big guy on us, I knew we were in trouble.â€
With the ball in their corner now, the Bulldogs had to score and make a two-point conversion to stay in the game.
On third-and-five, with the game on the line, Brandstater found his security deposit Pascoe for a 9-yard score.
Pascoe finished the day with 7 receptions for 70 yards and 3 touchdowns.
â€œI thought we had the game won on the first play of overtime,â€ Pascoe said. â€œSometimes things donâ€™t go your way. You get knocked down, you get up and come back at them. Texas A&M is a great team.â€
Needing a two-point conversion to force a fourth overtime period, Brandstater dropped back to pass and threw the ball to Moore on a post-corner route to the back of the end zone. But his efforts were to no avail.
â€œIâ€™m tired of getting so close and coming about with a heartbreaking loss,â€ Brandstater said. â€œWe could have come out with a victory, but itâ€™s unfortunate the way things turned out. We are so close to becoming a great football team.â€
Brandstater was 21-31 passing in his gutsy performance for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Bulldogs will travel to Eugene, Ore. to take on the Oregon Ducks Saturday.
â€œIt was a heck of a football game for both teams, there was a lot of fight, â€ Hill said. â€œIt came down to a final two-point play. Weâ€™ve got a great young football team and hopefully we can build on this.â€