Football team celebrate season’s achievements

Fresno State football team gets ready to step on to the field at Bulldog Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (Armando Carreno/The Collegian)

Following a loss to the San Jose State Spartans, the Fresno State football team gathered on Sunday afternoon for its end-of-season awards banquet.

The banquet celebrated the 18 seniors that were a part of the Bulldogs’ journey to two Mountain West (MW) division titles, a MW Championship and two bowl wins under head coach Jeff Tedford’s tenure, according to a Fresno State athletics news release. 

Alongside the celebration of the team’s seniors, team awards were handed out to the respective winning Bulldogs.

The 2019 Bulldog Award was awarded to senior running back Josh Hokit. The dual athlete set aside the beginning of wrestling season and stepped up for the Bulldogs following the injuries of three of the Fresno State running backs. 

Hokit played in all 12 games this season, rushed for 287 yards and scored nine rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown, finishing in seventh place in all of the MW in touchdowns.

The Bulldogs’ Most Improved Player for 2019 was junior offensive lineman Matt Smith. Smith, who was a walk-on, earned a scholarship this year and the starting center position. The offensive captain would only play eight games this season as he would suffer a season-ending injury, breaking his fibula in the away game against the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

The Most Valuable Skill Player award went to junior running back Ronnie Rivers. Rivers ended his junior season as the MW’s leading scorer in touchdowns with a total of 16 touchdowns. Three of his 16 touchdowns were receiving touchdowns. Rivers finished with a total of 899 rushing yards and received 43 receptions for 352 yards.

On defense, the Most Valuable Skill Player was senior defensive back Juju Hughes. Hughes finished third for the most tackles on the team with 80 tackles. He also racked up eight pass deflections and caught two interceptions. 

Starting senior quarterback Jorge Reyna was named the team’s offensive Most Valuable Player (MVP). Reyna started in all 12 games this season, threw for a total of 2654 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. At the end of the season, his QB rating stood at 133.22 percent with a 64.44 completion percentage. Reyna also rushed for 264 yards and had a total of two rushing touchdowns. 

On defense, senior linebacker Mykal Walker was awarded defensive MVP. Walker was second on the team in total tackles with 96 — nine of his tackles being a tackle for loss — along with a total of two and a half sacks. He also broke up four passes, forced and recovered a fumble this season. 

And on special teams, senior punter Blake Cusick was awarded special teams MVP. Cusick started all four years at the punter position and was last year’s recipient of the special teams MVP award. This year, Cusick punted 52 times with 17 of those punts landing inside the 20-yard line. Cusick ended this season punting for an average of 42.5 yards per punt.

The Bulldogs had four captains at the start of the 2019 season but two extra captains stepped up due to injuries. Reyna, Walker, Hughes, Hokit, Smith and junior offensive lineman Netane Muti were all honored with the Captains Award.

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