The Bulldogs jumped out to a 31-0 lead in the second quarter at home on Saturday, but their effort was not enough as the Tulsa Golden Hurricane stormed back to win 48-41 in double overtime.
In front of only 23,273 people, Fresno State again failed to play a consistent game all the way through, which has been a theme of the team’s 1-3 start. The ball simply bounced the Bulldogs’ way for a quarter and a half, but when Tulsa’s uptempo offense got going, it proved to be too much to handle.
Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter was clearly frustrated after the game with the team’s performance, giving up a 31-point lead.
“I’m extremely disappointed. I know our team is,” DeRuyter said. “We let one go through our hands, we had a chance to win against a good football team, and when you lose those opportunities, you don’t get them back.”
Fresno State quarterback Chason Virgil threw for 276 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 47 yards and two touchdowns, but he only completed 21 of 45 passes.
When the Bulldogs were up by 31, Virgil admitted that the team struggled to stay focused and execute.
“Our energy just died down for whatever reason, and we just have to stay focused,” Virgil said.
The game started off lucky for the Bulldogs. Virgil threw a lateral screen pass to receiver Jamire Jordan near the sideline, but the ball hit the ground before Jordan could get to it, which would have been a fumble. However, Jordan picked up the ball before the Tulsa defenders could grab it and ran 44 yards for a touchdown.
The game continued to play out in Fresno State’s favor until midway through the second quarter. The Bulldogs 31-point lead was cut down by halftime to 31-21. Tulsa continued to push the Bulldogs around, eventually taking the lead 38-34 in the fourth.
The Bulldogs showed their “grit,” as DeRuyter said, and were able to retake the lead before surrendering a game-tying field goal. The Bulldogs failed to make anything happen in the last minute of regulation, which took the game into overtime.
The first overtime saw Fresno State get the ball first and promptly give it right back on an Aaron Peck fumble. This gave the Golden Hurricane a great opportunity to win the game, which they squandered by missing a field goal.
Tulsa took the lead in double overtime and never looked back. The Bulldogs offense could not produce when it mattered most, giving the game to Tulsa.
Fresno State lost in large part due to its poor run defense. Golden Hurricane running backs D’Angelo Brewer and James Flanders combined for 353 yards on 59 attempts. The running game wore down the ’Dogs, and Tulsa’s air attack finished the job with quarterback Dane Evans throwing for four touchdowns.
Senior Bulldog linebacker Jeff Camilli led the defense with 13.5 tackles and added two sacks. He was proud of his teammates and their effort.
“That was a frustrating game. I’m frustrated with the way I played, but there are negatives and positives,” Camilli said. “We fought so hard out there, and I hope everyone saw that everyone put their bodies on the line for everybody out there. That was crazy to see. I’ve never been with a team that fought that hard before.”