Fresno State redshirt quarterback freshman Kilton Anderson gets chased down by Nevada defenders during Thursday night’s 30-16 loss to the Wolf Pack at Bulldog Stadium. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
After a sluggish start in the first quarter, the Fresno State Bulldogs responded and came out swinging in the second quarter of Thursday night’s home showdown with Nevada.
But the third and fourth quarters were a completely different story as they were the ones taking the punches.
The Wolf Pack (5-4, 3-2) scored 13 unanswered points and held the ‘Dogs scoreless in the second half en route to the 30-16 victory.
“The game is what it was,” Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said. “We had a chance at halftime. I thought we competed well but we turned the ball over and dug ourselves in a hole. In the second half, they hit some plays on with throwing the ball to No. 12 [Hasaan Henderson] and their quarterback running the ball. We have to do a better job of being disciplined in but we weren’t and they took advantage of that.”
On the first possession of the game, Fresno State redshirt freshman quarterback Kilton Anderson dropped back and was sacked and stripped of the ball. Nevada linebacker Matthew Lyons scooped up the ball and returned it 30 yards the other way to give the Wolf Pack the early 7-0 lead.
Early in the second, the ‘Dogs cashed in on a turnover thanks to the pass rush that applied pressure, forcing Nevada quarterback Tyler Stewart to throw off balance. Stewart threw the ball up for grabs and corner Tyquwan Glass came away with the interception and return to set up ‘Dogs inside the Wolf Pack 30-yard line.
“I saw the ball and went to go get it,” Glass said. “We’ve been working a lot on ball drills and I finally got that opportunity so I had to take advantage of it.”
The offense came away with a Kody Kroening 25-yard field goal to cut the lead to four.
But just when the ‘Dogs were gaining momentum, Nevada responded with a big play of their own.
On the ensuing possession, wide receiver Hasaan Henderson burned defensive backs Glass and Charles Washington for a 73-yard touchdown.
“It’s football,” DeRuyter said. “You’ve got to be able to make quick adjustments and get guys back on out there. Right now we’re a fragile football team. When adversity hits, we’ve got to be able to bow up and do a better job coaching our guys to respond to it.”
However, the ‘Dogs still had fight in them and climbed back from a 14-3 hole by responding with a touchdown drive of their own. The ‘Dogs marched down the field and with the offense facing a 4th-and-1, Anderson kept the ball on a read option and raced up the middle for a 24-yard score to cut Nevada’s lead to four.
Nevada scored its last points of the half on a field goal while Fresno State managed to find the end zone again with a 2-yard strike from Anderson to Josiah Blandin. But the missed PAT made it 17-16.
The Wolf Pack defense held Fresno State scoreless in the second half and its offense scored 13 points in the span to pull away – capped by a 59-yard touchdown run from running back James Butler.
“Give them credit, they made plays in the second half,” DeRuyter said. “We got a little desperate and they hit us on a couple blitzes in the run game. It hurts, we have a bunch of guys that work their tails off and wanted to put themselves in position to win a football game but didn’t get it done. We’ll be back tomorrow to fix it and move on to Hawaii.”