Fresno State running back Jordan Mims showed no signs of celebrating and remained humble in one of the best performances of his Bulldog career.
During the postgame conference, his mentality and main message for his performance was clear: “the job is not finished.”
But after starting running back Ronnie Rivers suffered an injury in the first quarter, Mims stepped up and was a key contributor for the ‘Dogs’ offense in Fresno State’s 34-32 victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.
Mims led Fresno State with two touchdowns and 134 rushing yards, a career-high for the 6-foot senior.
“Jordan stepped up. He’s a great player. He’s a great friend of mine,” Bulldog quarterback Jake Haener said. “He ran his tail off tonight, so he’s the reason we got this win.”
With 14:11 left in the second quarter, Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener passed the ball to Mims for 9 yards with 1 yard left to the end zone on second down. The ‘Dogs continued to give the ball to the hot hand, and Mims rushed the final yard to get Fresno State’s second touchdown of the game.
“Moments like that, you know, where everybody’s up in their seats… that’s why we play,” Mims said.
Mims was not concerned about how well he performed, but in his fifth season, he is a team favorite and role model for the ‘Dogs.
Head coach Kalen DeBoer said the team is really close and loves supporting players like Mims when they shine on the field.
“[The team] is so happy for him because they know the work that’s been put in,” DeBoer said. “Our guys are just truly, genuinely excited for him.”
Both Fresno State and Nevada had a slow start. The Wolf Pack kicked off with a 2-yard rush before punting on fourth down, and the ‘Dogs’ first drive had the same result. Nevada was the first to score with a 32-yard field goal kick, leading the ‘Dogs 3-0.
But it wasn’t until the end of the first where Fresno State caught fire. Bulldogs running back Ronnie Rivers maneuvered through the Wolf Pack’s defensive line and rushed for 64 yards to the end zone. Fresno State led 7-3 with 5:08 left in the first quarter.
In the same play, Rivers would get a leg injury as a Nevada player landed on his ankle. But that did not stop the ‘Dogs hot streak.
In Nevada’s next drive, Bulldogs defensive back Daron Bland intercepted a Wolf Pack pass and returned it for 6 yards. Fresno State capitalized on the interception and utilized both its rush and pass offense.
It started with a 42-yard pass from Haener to receiver Keric Wheatfall. Then, Mims rushed for 16 yards. After a 5-yard pass from Haener to Bulldog Jalen Cropper, Mims rushed to the end zone.
Fresno State led 14-3.
“This is the balance we love to have. This is what’s gonna keep teams, defensive coordinators having nightmares,” DeBoer said.
Fresno State finished with 256 passing yards and 205 rushing yards. The ‘Dogs defense recorded one fumble recovery, one interception and five sacks.
But this was not a runaway game for the ‘Dogs.
After Mims’ touchdown, Nevada had a run of its own, forcing a Fresno State fumble with 10:51 left in the second quarter.
Wolf Pack quarterback Carson Strong capitalized with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Cole Turner. Fresno still led 14-10.
Strong and Wolf Pack receiver Romeo Doubs kept this game close. Strong finished with 476 passing yards, Doubs led with 203 receiving yards and Turner followed with 105 receiving yards.
In the third quarter, Fresno State increased its lead to 21-10 with another touchdown. Strong responded with a 30-yard touchdown pass. The ‘Dogs still led 21-16 with 8:46 left.
Mims ended the third quarter with a 7-yard rush to the end zone, but Strong started the fourth quarter with another Nevada touchdown in the first four seconds. Fresno State led 31-23.
Bulldog kicker Cesar Silva increased the lead to 34-23 with a 47-yard field goal. Despite it looking like a sealed victory for the ‘Dogs, Nevada did not give up until the last minute.
After a Nevada field goal, Strong threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Turner, making it 34-32.
Nevada attempted a 2-point conversion to extend the game to overtime, but Fresno State pushed the Wolf Pack receiver out of bounds to win the game.
The Bulldogs will travel to Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson next Saturday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m. against San Diego State.