Fresno State’s football team picked up its fifth consecutive win on the road after defeating University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), 37-30, in Allegiant Stadium.
The victory keeps the Bulldogs in first place in the Mountain West (MW) Conference’s West division, putting the Bulldogs at 6-4 overall (5-1 MW).
“It was a really hard fought game, and when you’re going back-and-forth like that with a really good team, it’s very exciting to come out on the right side,” said Fresno State Head Coach Jeff Tedford. “Playing all four quarters is what it takes against good football teams, especially when you’re on the road during a short week.”
Playing in the new home of Fresno State legends and now Las Vegas Raiders duo Davante Adams and Derek Carr, the new Bulldogs duo of Jake Haener and Jalen Moreno-Cropper finally played to the potential credited to them in the preseason.
Haener led the way for the ‘Dogs by throwing for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Moreno-Cropper led the receiving core by scoring two of those touchdowns along with 164 total receiving yards.
With the game tied late into the fourth quarter, Haener had the chance to display his knack of leading late touchdown drives.
“It just comes down to preparation. I think when you’re prepared, then anything that’s thrown at you is expected. I think the [offensive line] and the receivers all did a great job tonight. It helps when I have a lot of explosive guys around me,” Haener said.
UNLV began the game with a 51-yard drive, ending in a field goal in 10 plays. The Rebels gained an early 3-0 lead in the first minutes of the game.
The ‘Dogs responded the very next drive with Haener and Moreno-Cropper’s first touchdown of the game. Fresno State got its first lead, 7-3.
However, UNLV countered once again with a 15-play drive, culminating with a touchdown from Rebel running back Doug Brumfield. With another lead change, Fresno State trailed 10-7.
The Rebels’ ground game gave the ‘Dogs trouble all night, as they finished with 219 yards and two touchdowns. This also allowed them to string together four 10-plus play drives to control the time of possession.
On the ‘Dogs ensuing possession, a fumble by Bulldog Nikko Remigio allowed the Rebel kicker to successfully kick a field goal after a grueling 15-play drive, making it a 13-7 UNLV lead.
However, Fresno State followed up with a nine-play, 74-yard drive of its own that resulted in a Jordan Mims touchdown run.
While the ‘Dogs looked to head into halftime with a 14-13 lead, the Rebels marched down the field through their rushing attack and took a last second 16-14 lead at halftime.
In the second half Fresno State seemed to begin controlling the game, as the ‘Dogs began the third quarter with a 12-play, 67-yard drive, resulting in a field goal by Bulldog kicker Dylan Lynch.
Fresno State regained the lead, 17-16.
After a defensive stop, the ‘Dogs extended their lead to 24-16. This time, it was due to a 2-yard touchdown pass by Haenerto Bulldog receiver Zane Pope.
The two teams then traded possessions, resulting in field goals to make the score 27-19, with Fresno State leading with under 10 minutes remaining.
As the Rebels faced a crucial fourth down situation that looked as if they were going to have yet another three-and-out, Aidan Robbins bursted through the ‘Dogs defense for a 66-yard rushing touchdown.
This score tied the game at 27, but only three plays later, Haener threw a 65-yard bomb to Moreno-Cropper to take the 34-27 lead.
UNLV found itself in another fourth-and-one situation, but Robbins was stuffed at his own 34-yard line.
The ‘Dogs then used the prime field position to ice the game with a 29-yard field goal.
Despite the Rebels kicking a field goal with 13 seconds remaining, Fresno State recovered the onside kick to secure its fifth straight victory, 37-30.
The ‘Dogs are now bowl eligible and lead their Mountain West division with just two games remaining.
The Bulldogs will travel to Reno to take on the Wolf Pack at Mackay Stadium on Nov. 19. Kick off is set for 7:30 p.m.