’Dogs overtime effort falls short

Fresno State
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.

“I have to give our kids credit for bouncing back,” Hill said, whose record is now 10-20 versus BCS Conference teams in his coaching tenure. “They 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.”

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 Aggies’ 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 ‘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 Bulldogs’ 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.

“The ball just slipped out of my hand,” Moore said. “Next time I would run the ball straight out of bounds.”

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.

“They say our receiver tried to stretch it over the goal line,” Hill said. “That was the call and we’ll live with it. I’ve never seen anything like that, but that’s how it goes. That’s the way football is sometimes.”

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 ‘Dogs up 39-32.

The back-and-forth game continued though as Texas A&M’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.

“This is every running back’s dream,” Lane said. “I give my o-line all the credit for my touchdowns. They did a great job.”

Of the 397 yards Texas A&M gained on Saturday, 318 of them were on the ground.

“(Lane) is a tough guy,” Hill said. “When they went to pound the big guy on us, I knew we were in trouble.”

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.

“I thought we had the game won on the first play of overtime,” Pascoe said. “Sometimes things don’t go your way. You get knocked down, you get up and come back at them. Texas A&M is a great team.”

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.

“I’m tired of getting so close and coming about with a heartbreaking loss,” Brandstater said. “We could have come out with a victory, but it’s unfortunate the way things turned out. We are so close to becoming a great football team.”

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.

“It was a heck of a football game for both teams, there was a lot of fight, ” Hill said. “It came down to a final two-point play. We’ve got a great young football team and hopefully we can build on this.”

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