Aug 10, 2020

Fresno State stumbles in crucial WAC contest

Fresno State’s defensive Achilles heel has been the big play,
being burned once again Saturday. Louisiana Tech running back
Lennon Creer (5) finished the game with 117 yards on 17 carries.
Dalton Runberg / The Collegian

Fresno State was fresh off a bye week and welcomed another Western Athletic Conference opponent, Louisiana Tech, to Bulldog Stadium for a game with conference title implications.

Louisiana Tech was without its starting quarterback Nick Isham, but started off fast with backup Colby Cameron finding his top target junior wide receiver Quinton Patton for the 45-yard touchdown reception to jump out to a 7-0 lead.

On the next drive, Cameron duplicated what he did on the first drive by leading Louisiana Tech down the field with a variety of plays. He would end the drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Patton to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-0.

It continued to be the Cameron show as he led Louisiana Tech down the field again to set up the Bayou ‘Dogs in scoring position. Junior kicker Matt Nelson booted a 26-yard field goal to increase the lead to 17-0.

Fresno State’s offense finally woke up in the second quarter with sophomore quarterback Derek Carr utilizing his weapons throughout the drive. Carr avoided the rush and found senior wide receiver Devon Wylie for a 39-yard reception. Carr would finish off the drive by hitting freshman wide receiver Victor Dean for the six-yard touchdown pass, Dean’s second reception of his collegiate career. The score cut the lead to 17-7.

The Louisiana Tech offense would get on the board again on the next drive, but this time on the ground. Senior running back Lennon Creer sliced the Fresno State defense to the tune of 53 yards to extend Louisiana Tech’s lead to 24-7. Creer ended the night with 17 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown.

Louisiana Tech’s offense continued to make the Fresno State defense work as Cameron found wide receiver Myles White for another big touchdown pass. This time it was of the 75-yard variety to give Louisiana Tech the 31-7 lead.

With only a couple minutes remaining at the half, Louisiana Tech kicked a field goal to extend its insurmountable lead to 34-7.

Louisiana Tech still wasn’t done after the half as it drove down the field on its first drive with Cameron having his fingerprints all over it. Cameron would find junior receiver Richie Casey for the six-yard touchdown pass, his fourth touchdown pass of the game, giving Louisiana Tech the 41-7 lead. Cameron finished the game going 17 of 32 for 358 yards and four touchdown passes.

It was a tale of two halves as Fresno State came out of the break looking like a different team, perhaps because Louisiana Tech took the foot off the peddle a bit. After giving up the first score, Fresno State’s defense put the clamps down on the Louisiana Tech offense holding the unit to just one second-half score.

The offense also played like a different team behind Carr’s arm. Carr utilized his playmakers throughout the drive. Carr’s main playmaker, sophomore wide receiver Jalen Saunders, made the biggest play of the drive as the Bakersfield Christian High School graduate found him for the 16-yard pass in the back of the end zone to cut into the lead, 41-14.

The offense continued looking like a different unit with Fresno State utilizing Carr’s arm as he drove the offense down the field again to get into scoring position. The drive ended with Carr finding Wylie for the 26-yard touchdown pass, Carr’s third of the game, to cut Louisiana Tech’s lead to 41-21. Carr finished the game going 39 of 49 for 290 yards and three touchdown passes.

Junior running back Robbie Rouse had a relatively productive night, though off his season average, finishing with 24 carries for 96 yards and also went over the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season.

Rouse’s play wasn’t enough as Louisiana Tech cruised to a 41-21 victory to knock Fresno State’s conference record down 2-2 on the season.

After the game, head coach Pat Hill gave some thoughts on his team’s demoralizing defeat.

“We gave up some big plays and dug ourselves quite a hole,” Hill said. “Once we dug that hole, it really gave all the advantage to them.”

With the loss, Fresno State’s bowl chances took a huge hit and now it will need to win its remaining four games to become bowl eligible.

The Bulldogs will face New Mexico State next Saturday. The Aggies are coming off a 63-16 loss to Georgia.

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