For the second consecutive season, the Fresno State Bulldogs football team clinched a berth in the Mountain West championship game at home.
The ‘Dogs defeated the San Diego State Aztecs 23-14 on Saturday in the teams’ annual Battle for the Oil Can.
The ‘Dogs offense has gotten a lot of credit for its performances this season, but on this night, it was the defense that was able to overcome a rocky first half and shut down the Aztecs in the second when the offense wasn’t clicking like it normally does.
The ‘Dogs defense was burned twice in the first half with big plays by the Aztecs. Receiver Fred Trevillion got behind Fresno State’s defense for scores, including ones for 75 yards and 70 yards, respectively. Trevillion had 3 catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone.
But the 14 points they gave up on those two drives was all the ‘Dogs defense decided it would surrender. They kept the Aztecs off of the scoreboard entirely in the second half.
As for Trevillion, he was held to just one catch for a measly 10 yards in the second half.
“We just became more disciplined,” Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford said about the defense’s job against Trevillion in the second half.
“When you go into a game like this and you are so focused on stopping the run, sometimes the safeties try to get a little bit over-aggressive and try to come down hill. Our eyes were undisciplined and we let guys get behind us. Credit to them, they had a couple of good play calls, they protected the passer well and the quarterback hit him right in stride.”
Offensively, although the team wasn’t at its best, it still managed to make big plays when it needed to, including an 86-yard strike through the air from quarterback Marcus McMaryion to Jamire Jordan in the first quarter to give the ‘Dogs their first points on the evening.
Senior receiver KeeSean Johnson had one of his most productive games of the season, registering 10 catches for 141 yards.
Backing up Johnson’s efforts were running backs Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims.
Both backs found paydirt, including Mims’ one-yard rumble into the endzone in the fourth quarter to give the ‘Dogs a nine-point lead and put the game out of reach.
After securing a couple of first downs in the fourth quarter after the defense stopped San Diego State, the ‘Dogs offense was able to run out the clock with two kneel downs.
The ‘Dogs have one more game against San Jose State on Nov. 24 on Senior Day, when the Bulldogs senior players will take the Bulldog Stadium field one last time in their careers.
“I just want to say thank you [to the fans] and come out for the last game next weekend and possibly my last game here,” Johnson said. “It has been a crazy ride from going from losing to winning. I didn’t think that I would be kind of sad about the game Saturday night. I’m proud and we are going to go out there and win.”