Football Buries No. 10 Oregon State 44-24
Sept 2, 2001
By GREG BEACHAM
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - In the biggest game of his career, David Carr had one of the most relaxing evenings he's ever spent on a football field.
Carr threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns as Fresno State repeatedly struck with its big-play offense to upset No. 10 Oregon State - the highest-ranked team ever to visit Bulldog Stadium - 44-24 on Sunday night.
Carr was 21-for-34 as he tormented Oregon State's vaunted secondary in what he said was Fresno State's biggest home game ever. The senior quarterback was playing in front of dozens of family members against one of the nation's top defenses, and yet he never was worried.
"That was like backyard football for me," Carr said. "It was just fun being out there with my boys. ... We expected to win the whole game. People around the nation didn't give us a chance, but we knew."
Carr and his fleet-footed corps of receivers delighted a frenzied sellout crowd and overwhelmed Oregon State's defense, which was the Pac-10's best last season.
Fresno State, which opened the season last week with a win at Colorado, posted its 16th straight home victory and made a strong case for its first national ranking since 1993. Bulldogs coach Pat Hill was aware of the watershed effects of such a convincing victory in front of a national television audience.
"Why not us?" Hill asked. "Why can't Fresno State play with the big guys? Why not? You tell me."
Extra bleacher seats and a giant video replay screen were installed at Bulldog Stadium for what Carr said was Fresno State's biggest home game ever. Fireworks flew across the sky with each Fresno State score, and a party atmosphere developed when the Bulldogs' victory seemed assured.
After the final whistle, thousands of students stormed the field and tore down one set of goalposts.
Rodney Wright caught seven passes for a career-high 182 yards and two TDs, including a 32-yard score with 10:13 to play that gave the Bulldogs a 38-24 lead. Wright and Carr both are from Bakersfield, Calif., and they've been throwing and catching since the day they both committed to Fresno State.
"Rodney's always my target," Carr said. "He'll run into a brick wall to catch a football, and even try to pop out of it. I have sometimes way too much confidence in him."
Oregon State (0-1) has national title aspirations, but the Beavers didn't look anything like contenders against Fresno State.
The Beavers committed 19 penalties for 129 yards, they also dropped several passes and blew simple assignments on both sides of the ball. Fresno State exposed the Beavers' terrible pass protection with a relentless pass rush that recorded several sacks and hurried many of Jonathan Smith's throws.
"They outplayed us in every aspect of the game," Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson said. "I was surprised. We couldn't run it like I thought we might, and they made big plays on offense. The atmosphere obviously was very important to them."
The Beavers, picked as the nation's top team by Sports Illustrated, were taunted with chants of "Overrated! Overrated!" starting early in the first quarter.
"I didn't think they were overrated," Fresno State receiver Bernard Berrian said. "I just think we were that much better tonight."
The Bulldogs snapped Oregon State's seven-game winning streak - the school's longest since 1966-67 - from last season, which included thrashing of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The Beavers' 13-game winning streak against non-conference opponents also ended.
Ken Simonton, Oregon State's Heisman hopeful tailback, never got going. With several defenders keyed on him with every play, Simonton managed just 42 yards - his lowest total in 17 games - on 15 carries.
Fresno State came out roaring, scoring on its first two possessions and never trailing. Jeremy Johnson caught a 1-yard TD pass in the second quarter to give Fresno State a 17-3 lead.
Simonton kept the Beavers close with a 16-yard TD run 3:43 before halftime. It was Simonton's 49th rushing TD, tying him with Herschel Walker and two others for 14th place on college football's career list.
Fresno State went up 24-10 midway through the third when Berrian made a diving 28-yard TD reception, beating all-Pac-10 cornerback Dennis Weathersby.
The Bulldogs scored again less than five minutes later when Wright caught a short pass, broke two tackles and sprinted to the end zone, diving over the goal line for a 70-yard play.
But Oregon State gave a last gasp with two scores on consecutive plays early in the fourth quarter. Seth Trimmer romped through Fresno State's secondary with a 65-yard TD catch that cut the lead to 31-24 with 12:27 left.