Fresno State out of bowl eligibility after loss against Nevada

Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers runs through Nevada defenders during the first half of a home match at Bulldog Stadium on Saturday, November 23, 2019 (Armando Carreno/The Collegian)

Fresno State has been in control of its own destiny for the past two games, Senior Night was no different. 

After dropping the last home game against the Utah State Aggies and losing the Oil Can trophy to the San Diego State Aztecs, the Bulldogs needed a win against the Nevada Wolfpack for its seniors and for bowl eligibility.

Before kickoff, Fresno State took the time to have its 17 seniors honored as they meet their parents/relatives at midfield. Featured in festivities were quarterback Jorge Reyna Jr., running back Josh Hokit, tight end Jared Rice, linebacker Mykal Walker among others as they took their final steps inside of Bulldog stadium.

Coming into yesterday’s game, the Bulldogs were on a two-game losing streak and Nevada was returning from their bye week. Nevada were on a two-game winning streak coming with its last victory being the upset of then ranked San Diego State.

The Wolfpack started off hot by picking up the first score with a 29-yard pass on its opening drive. The Bulldogs opening drive was a bust as they failed to convert the fourth down conversion. The Wolfpack then found itself in the endzone again on its next drive with two minutes to go in the first quarter.

With the Wolfpack leading 14-0, the Bulldogs looked for a momentum swing, as Reyna drove the Bulldogs down the field in four plays and score his first touchdown of the game on 34-yard wheel route to Ronnie Rivers. By the end of the first quarter, Fresno State had cut Nevada’s lead to one touchdown.

Nevada carried its possession into the second quarter, but its drive ended in the hands of Walker who punched out the ball to give the ‘Dogs their first turnover of the game. 

Reyna took the Bulldogs to the red zone, however he was hit hard rushing towards the endzone. Reyna was writhing in pain, but managed to get up under his own will and was taken out the game to be evaluated.

While Reyna was with the trainers, redshirt freshman quarterback Ben Wooldridge had his name called to continue the Bulldogs drive. Wooldridge only needed one play to tie the game up with a lob caught by wide receiver Eric Wheatfall in the endzone.

Following Wooldridge’s touchdown, Fresno State found amazing field position thanks to a fumble from Nevada on the kick return. The returning Reyna then threw his second touchdown of the game to wide receiver Emoryie Edwards to put the Bulldogs up 21-14 at the end of the first half.

Alongside the Bulldog seniors being honored, a few former Bulldogs returned to their alma mater during the game. KeeSean Johnson, who is the current all-time program leader in receiving yards and receptions, took time out of his bye week with the Arizona Cardinals to visit. as well as current New York Yankee Outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge was named the honorary captain of the game.

Fresno State’s opening drive of the second half was highlighted with success as Reyna threw his third touchdown of the game. Reyna’s third passing touchdown was to senior wide receiver Derrion Grim, who made a spectacular one handed grab to extend the Bulldogs lead to 14.

The Wolfpack took charge following the Bulldog’s opening score and cut the Bulldog lead back down to seven with a 5-yard touchdown to cap off a seven play, 75 yard drive. A few drives later, Reyna threw the only Fresno State turnover of the game. The Wolfpack offense wasted no-time to tie the game back up at 28 apiece.

Both teams reached a stalemate and could not produce anything in the fourth quarter. Fresno State’s defense stopped Nevada’s offense, as Nevada’s punter put the Dogs’ back in its own endzone and Fresno State’s offense was not clicking.

In Fresno State’s last drive of the game, Reyna threw three straight incompletions and could not get the ‘Dogs out from its own three yard line.

Punter Blake Cusick had his 46-yard punt returned for 24-yards to put Nevada at Fresno State’s 25-yard line. The Wolfpack would then score the game winning touchdown with 12 seconds remaining in the game on a run play inside the 3-yard line.

Fresno State fails to stop the Nevada comeback with the final score of 35-28. Fresno state will now travel next week to face its rival, the San Jose State Spartans.

“I feel bad that we weren’t able to come away with a victory on senior night,” Head coach Jeff Tedford said. “But [the seniors] have been apart of a lot of great times in [Bulldog] stadium and those are the things they should remember. There’s been a lot of close games that we haven’t found a way to win. The class and integrity that our team plays with everyday is something that I’m really proud of.”

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