Mathews not enough

Tailback Ryan Mathews carried the ’Dogs with 238 yards and three scores, but nearly threw an interception on a halfback-option in the third quarter.
Matt Weir / The Collegian

The tailback’s 238 yards and three scores not enough to keep up with No. 10 Boise State.

Despite tailback Ryan Mathews’ momentous effort trying to lead Fresno State to victory, Boise State still defeated the Bulldogs, 51-34, Friday night.

Mathews led the Bulldogs’ struggling offense, trying to end their three-game losing streak to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) champions, scoring three rushing touchdowns of 60 or more yards.

Head coach Pat Hill said that he has never seen a game with so many big plays as this one. Both teams combined for eight plays of 60 or more yards.

The Bulldogs’ offense struggled from the start when quarterback Ryan Colburn threw an interception in the first quarter and the Broncos took back for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game.

The Broncos, who jumped up to No. 8 in the AP Poll, were led in the first three games of the 2009 season by a strong defense. The team’s passing defense proved to be impenetrable, picking Colburn off twice and keeping him off-balance in the pocket.

“You got to give Boise State credit, they’re a heck of a football team,” Colburn said. “There’s no question.”

Colburn got shook up in the fourth quarter after he ran 22 yards for a first down conversion on fourth and four. He ran into two of the Broncos’ defenders in a helmet-to-helmet collision on the play. He said the blow to the head was not as painful as the errors he made from the start.

“I’m hurting more mentally than I am physically,” Colburn said.

Colburn gained his momentum during the third quarter when he led a drive to the end zone and threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Devon Wylie. The touchdown pass got the Bulldogs within three point, 24-27.

Brianna Campbell / The Collegian

Although the Broncos maintained the lead throughout the game, they had to pick up their defense after Mathews ran for two touchdowns during the second quarter on back-to-back possessions.

Mathews said that he did not underestimate Boise State’s defense, but when he saw the opportunity to go he took advantage of it.

“I like making safeties miss, that’s what a running back is supposed to do,” Mathews said. “You always got to make that one guy miss and then it’s off to the races.”

Mathews had 19 carries for 234 yards, the third highest single-game rushing in Bulldogs’ history.

The Broncos’ special team returners, Titus Young and Doug Martin, each ran for more than 100 yards in kick returns, proving to be Achilles’ heel for the Bulldogs.

“Our cover teams did not do the job we need to do against Boise’s kickoff team. They beat us there, for sure,” Hill said.

The ’Dogs’ defense was successful in pressuring quarterback Kellen Moore. The sophomore completed 18 of his 26 throws and had 181 passing yards and one touchdown.

The downfall for the Bulldogs’ defense was their lack of run defense against Boise State’s running backs, Jeremy Avery and DJ Harper. Avery had 190 rushing yards, and Harper had 112.

Avery’s breakout runs against the Bulldogs during the fourth quarter eliminated any chances for a comeback. His final assault was a 67-yard touchdown catch on a screen from Moore.

Hill said despite the loss to the Broncos, he is optimistic of the team’s capabilities and is now looking forward.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Boise, they’re an excellent football team,” Hill said. “They made some big plays, we made big plays, it’s just not enough tonight. Overall, I told them in the locker room, I think we have a chance to be a very good football team.”

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