Football Gets Over the Top, Beats Colorado 24-22
Aug 26, 2001
Fresno St. 24, Colorado 22
By JOHN MOSSMAN
BOULDER, Colo. - Under Pat Hill's ambitious program, Fresno State has begun scheduling elite non-conference opponents in hopes of being considered a Top-25 contender.
On Sunday night, the Bulldogs took their biggest step yet in that direction.
David Carr passed for one touchdown and ran for another, and Fresno State converted three Colorado turnovers into 17 points en route to a 24-22 victory.
"I think we're at the stage now where our team can play with a lot of people," said Hill, whose team meets nationally ranked Oregon State and Wisconsin the next two weeks.
Fresno State cornerback Devon Banks made an interception in the end zone with 3:32 left, thwarting a Colorado drive that had reached the Bulldogs' 2-yard line.
On the final play of the game, safety Cameron Worrell intercepted a desperation pass at the Bulldogs' 14 - Colorado's fifth turnover of the game.
"The turnovers obviously killed us," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. "It's very hard to beat anybody when you have five turnovers. One of them stopped a drive, and three of them were turned into points by Fresno."
Craig Ochs threw two touchdown passes to John Minardi for Colorado, which lost for the first time in five meetings with Fresno State.
Ochs' forced throw to tight end Daniel Graham that resulted in Banks' interception was critical.
"Craig just tried to force it in, and it wasn't there," Barnett said. "We have a chance to win if he throws it away or tries to run. We just have to throw it away, line up and kick a field goal, and we go up 25-24. But he's a sophomore. This is how you grow as a quarterback."
Ochs, who started the last seven games of his freshman season, said he
"committed the cardinal sin. I tried to force the play. I just made a bad
Carr was 21-of-36 for 198 yards in the inaugural Jim Thorpe Association Football Classic. Ochs was 31-of-51 for 346 yards.
"Our team led from start to finish, and I think that's really important," Hill said. "We never relinquished the lead, and it was a pressure-type situation the whole night. We had the (crowd) noise, we had a lot of things going against us, and our kids fought through it."
Carr said the key for Fresno was "consistency and not turning the ball over. We didn't make the big mistake."
Barnett was worried about a carry-over effect. His team faces in-state rival Colorado State in six days. "We have to bounce back" he said. "We can't let Fresno beat us twice."
Fresno State, the preseason pick to win the Western Athletic Conference, had a modest 71 yards in the first quarter but led 14-0, thanks to two Colorado fumbles that the Bulldogs converted into touchdowns. Colorado never recovered.
Midway through the third quarter, Roman Hollowell's 36-yard punt return gave Colorado possession near midfield, and Pat Brougham, making his major college debut, kicked a 42-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to 21-16.
In the final minute of the quarter, however, Ochs fumbled a snap in the shotgun formation, and tackle Alan Harper recovered at the Colorado 45. The Bulldogs then overcame penalties for holding and a false start, and Asen Asparuhov kicked a 43-yard field goal for a 24-16 lead with 12:29 left.
Ochs passed 16 yards to Minardi to make it 24-22 with 7:51 to go, but he overthrew Hollowell on a 2-point conversion attempt. Colorado's two subsequent possessions ended with interceptions.
Five minutes into the game, Colorado running back Chris Brown fumbled when hit by Banks, and end Justin Johnson recovered at the Colorado 45. Carr was 5-of-5 on the drive, which he capped with a 1-yard sneak with 6:23 left in the opening quarter.
On Colorado's next possession, Ochs fumbled when he was sacked by blitzing safety Bryce McGill, and the Bulldogs recovered at the Colorado 21. Carr's 13-yard pass to Bernard Berrian set up a 1-yard scoring run by Paris Gaines with 3:34 to go in the period.
Each team missed long field goal tries early in the second quarter. With 6:03 remaining in the half, Hollowell returned a punt 77 yards for a score, cutting the lead to 14-7.
Fresno countered immediately with an 80-yard scoring drive. Carr was 5-of-6, including a 21-yarder to Marque Davis with 1:58 left for a 21-7 lead.
Colorado battled the clock for a touchdown with 56 seconds left in the half. Ochs passed 29 yards to Derek McCoy and 18 yards to Graham, then scrambled 16 yards on third-and-10. Ochs hit Minardi on an 8-yard scoring pass, but the extra point was blocked.