‘Dogs suffer 4th quarter collapse in Lincoln

Fresno State showed improvement offensively in its second game of the season, but was repeatedly scorched by big plays.
Fresno State showed improvement offensively in its second game
of the season, but was repeatedly scorched by big plays.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Dickinson / The Daily Nebraskan

After two away games, Fresno State will finally play in front of a home crowd

What began as a potential upset Saturday evening ended with a bad taste in the Bulldogs’ mouths following Fresno State’s long trip to Lincoln, Neb.

The Bulldogs came up short in their battle as the 10th-ranked Cornhuskers used a monster fourth quarter to win 42-29 despite Fresno State being 25-point underdogs.

The 13-point Cornhuskers win wasn’t indicative of how close the game was with the ‘Dogs getting on the board first early on. Senior wide receiver Devon Wylie sliced through Nebraska’s punt return coverage for a 67-yard touchdown return to give Fresno State a 7-0 lead. He also made a difference at the wideout position finishing with four catches for 50 yards.

Then, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez put the Cornhuskers in scoring position with a 57-yard option run as he dashed by the Fresno State defense. Martinez would score from one yard out to tie the score 7-7 in the first quarter. The sophomore torched the Fresno State defense for 166 yards on the ground with two touchdowns and 219 yards through the air and another score.

The ‘Dogs would answer back with a five-play, 80-yard drive ending with Carr scoring his first rushing touchdown of young collegiate career to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-7. Along with that rushing touchdown, Carr went 20-for-41 passing for 255 yards and one touchdown and no drive-halting turnovers.

In the second quarter, Martinez would again get the Nebraska offense rolling with a 38-yard run. This would lead to a one-yard run by Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead to tie the score at 14-14 all.

Fresno State would add two field goals, one at the end of the second quarter and one in the third quarter to add to its lead 20-14. Junior running back Robbie Rouse did a lot of the heavy lifting on both drives, carrying the ball numerous times. Rouse finished with 36 carries for 169 yards, which was his fifth career 100-yard rushing game. It was the most carries by a Bulldog running back since Rouse toted the rock 43 times in last season’s win at Louisiana Tech.

Martinez was at it again in the third quarter, driving Nebraska down the field. He hit wide receiver Quincy Enunwa for the 16-yard touchdown pass to give the Cornhuskers their first lead of the game, 21-20.

Fresno State would never lead the game after that point.

But the scoring wouldn’t end there with Nebraska putting points on the board after Burkhead found the end zone again, this time from six yards out to extend the lead, 28-20.

Then, Carr put the ‘Dogs on his back and led them down the field. He started the drive off with a 55-yard pass to sophomore wideout A.J. Johnson. A couple plays later, the sophomore found freshman wide receiver Josh Harper for a 26-yard touchdown pass to bring Fresno State within two points, 28-26. It was the second touchdown pass from the quarterback-receiver combination on the season.

After the Carr-to-Harper touchdown, the Cornhuskers answered quickly on the ensuing kickoff with freshman Ameer Abdullah returning the kick 100 yards for the 35-26 lead.

With time running out on the Bulldogs’ upset hopes, Carr marched them down the field for a field goal scoring drive to cut the Cornhusker lead to 35-29.

Fresno State gave the Cornhuskers the ball back with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The ‘Dogs couldn’t stop Nebraska’s rushing attack on the drive with Burkhead converting on key third downs. Finally, Martinez put the stamp on the Fresno State’s comeback bid with a 46-yard run to give the Cornhuskers the commanding 42-29 lead. Nebraska would not allow another score and go on to seal the victory.

With the loss, the ‘Dogs drop to 0-2 and will be at home next weekend for their first home game of the season against North Dakota. Saturday’s matchup will mark the inaugural game played on Fresno State’s revamped playing surface.

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