Bulldogs Win Thursday Night Thriller in OT

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Aug. 29, 2013

By Jason Clay

Postgame Interviews
Head Coach Tim DeRuyter
Senior QB Derek Carr
Senior WR Isaiah Burse
Junior FS Derron Smith
Freshman K Colin McGuire
FRESNO, Calif. - Derek Carr hit Greg Watson on the first play of overtime and Fresno State stopped a two-point conversion from Rutgers to hang on and win a wacky and wild season opener over the Scarlet Knights, 52-51 on Thursday night in Bulldog Stadium.

To get a grasp of the magnitude of this game, you just need to know that there were 170 plays, it lasted four hours and 26 minutes, there were 10 lead changes and three ties with seven of those lead changes and both ties coming after halftime.

"It was a 15-round fight, both heavyweights were throwing haymakers and landing them," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "I was just happy that we got up every single time, just like Rutgers and give those guys credit they got up every single time we landed one on them and luckily we got the last shot in and made the last play."

Carr set new Mountain West and school records by completing 53-of-74 passes for 470 yards and five touchdowns. 41 of his completions went to his big three receivers Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper. That was just Watson's second catch of the game, first career touchdown catch, and Carr hit him wide open up the middle.

"Football is the ultimate team sport," said Carr, whose completions and attempts were the most ever against a Rutgers team and his passing yardage tied for the most the Scarlet Knight had given up in 144 years of football. "There was not one moment where we thought we were going to lose this game."

In some regards, the Bulldogs had plenty of luck on their side. They survived three turnovers, including two fumbles in the fourth quarter when they held a 35-31 lead.

The 'Dogs overcame an early 20-7 deficit when Rutgers had all the momentum. That didn't swing until Rutgers' Janarion Grant, the same player who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter that seemed to sink the Bulldogs, muffed a punt in the second and allowed the Bulldogs to get back off the mat. Carr threw two TDs in the last five minutes of the second quarter to give Fresno State a 21-20 lead at the break.

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT F
Rutgers 10 10 11 14 6 51
Fresno State 7 14 7 17 7 52

Team Stat Comparison
1st Downs 22 33
Rushing 1st Downs 6 6
Passing 1st Downs 14 21
Net Yards Rushing 195 81
Rushing Attempts 32 23
Avg Per Rush 6.1 3.5
Rushing TDs 0 2
Net Yards Passing 348 470
Cmp-Att-Int 26-41-1 53-74-1
Avg Per Attempt 8.5 6.4
Avg Per Completition 13.4 8.9
Passing TDs 5 5

Individual Stat Leaders
Passing Leaders
  Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Lng
G. Nova 26-41-1 348 5 69
D. Carr 53-74-1 470 5 27

Rushing Leaders
Rutgers No Yds TD Avg
  Paul James 22 191 0 8.3
  Savon Huggins 6 19 0 2.5
Fresno St.        
  Marteze Waller 8 33 0 3.8
 Josh Quezada  7  29  1 4.1

Receiving Leaders
Rutgers No Yds TD Lng
  Brandon Coleman 10 105 2 28
  Leonte Carroo 4 124 69
Fresno State        
  Davante Adams 14 148 2 27
  Josh Harper 14 94 2 16
That got the Bulldogs back into a rhythm, but there was plenty of drama yet to unfold.

After Rutgers would take a 38-35 lead with 5:32 left in the game, Bulldog kicker Colin McGuire drilled a 47-yard field goal - on his very first career attempt - with 3:48 remaining to tie the game at 38.

"That's why we signed him," DeRuyter said. "He is going to win a lot of games for us and I am glad we have him."

After McGuire's heroics, the quarterbacks took over.

Gary Nova drove Rutgers down and hit Leonte Carro on a 30-yard touchdown pass, one of three TD connections between the two, to give the Scarlet Knights a 45-38 lead with 1:18 left on the clock.

Dillon Root returned the ensuing kickoff 56 yards to the Scarlet Knight 40-yard line. Carr got the Bulldogs into the end zone four plays later with a two-yard TD pass to Harper with 38 seconds left on the clock.

Rutgers did not go down and followed up that score that tied the game at 45 by getting down to the Bulldog 26-yard line to set up a Kyle Federico 43-yard field goal attempt. Federico had already hit three field goals earlier in the game, but this one sailed right and the game went into overtime.

There, Fresno State struck right away with Watson's TD pass and found a way to stop the two-point conversion.

"I think the whole defense was a little bit," safety Derron Smith said when he was asked if he was surprised they went for two. "The first overtime, they score to match ours and you assume they are going to kick the extra point. When they kept their offense out there, it caught us a little off-guard, but we handled the play well and got the stop."

Fresno State had 551 yards of offense, 470 of that off of Carr's arm. Adams finished with 14 catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a TD catch in nine straight games going back to last season. That has set a new school record and is the longest active streak in the nation.

Harper had a career-high 13 catches and the two score. Burse finished with a career-high 13 catches for 118 yards. This was the first time in school history that three Bulldogs had 10 or more catches in the same game. There has never been a game with two players with double-digit catches.

Carr finished the game five completions shy of the NCAA single-game record. His 74 attempts were 10 off the record.

"He is the real deal. He had ice in veins," DeRuyter said of Carr's performance. "This year he can make plays with his feet, unlike last year. I thought our protection, except for maybe one or two plays, was excellent. When he gets that kind of protection, he feels confident to get the ball where it needs to go and we got some frisbee catching dogs that will go get it."

"Catch the Wave" - 2013 Fresno State football season tickets are now on sale and can be ordered online at gobulldogs.com or over the phone at 559-278-DOGS (3647). The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.



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