Bulldogs Drop Opener to Cal, 36-21
Sept. 3, 2011
Fresno State (0-1) converted just 2-of-14 third downs in the game and only had 146 yards of offense up until the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs were sacked four times and only had 68 net yards rushing.
"We didn't play at the level we needed to play at tonight," head coach Pat Hill said. "I believe this is still going to be a very good football team, but we are going to go through a few growing pains. That was a good football team we played tonight."
The loss ends Fresno State's seven-year streak of winning its season opener.
The Bears (1-0) were led by quarterback Zach Maynard, who was 16-for-35 passing for 266 yards with a pair of touchdown tosses to Marvin Jones. Maynard also ran for 53 yards while Cal running back Isi Sofele added 83 yards rushing on 23 carries with two TDs.
Bulldog sophomore quarterback Derek Carr threw for 142 yards in his starting debut, completing 21-of-33 passes with one touchdown and one interception. Running back Robbie Rouse had 86 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown and redshirt freshman receiver Josh Harper caught Carr's TD late in the game.
"Nothing surprised me today. I knew they were going to come out and try and hit me," Carr said. "We wish we could have done more. We competed, we tried our best and they are just a good defense."
Safety Cristin Wilson recovered a fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter. That was one of two turnovers the Bulldogs forced, but Fresno State turned the ball over two times itself, one that directly resulted in a Bear touchdown.
"I thought Cal made some big plays," Hill said. "The game came down to big plays and Cal made them."
Bulldog sophomore cornerback L.J. Jones got Fresno State off on the right foot, intercepting Maynard's pass 19 seconds into the game to the give the 'Dogs the ball on the Cal 16-yard line. Rouse punched it in three plays later on a 9-yard touchdown run.
The Bears were quick to answer though, scoring on a pair of touchdown runs from Sofele. Fresno State lineman Cody Wichmann blocked the extra-point attempts following both touchdowns.
The Bulldogs didn't get a first down after each of Cal's first two touchdowns, and the Bears' momentum led to a third touchdown in the opening quarter. That came on a 42-yard Maynard to Jones touchdown pass at 1:31 to give the Golden Bears a 19-7 lead after the first 15 minutes.
The second quarter was quiet until the last five minutes. After Bulldog punter Andrew Shapiro pinned the Bears down on their six-yard line, Sofele fumbled the ball in the end zone and Wilson jumped on it for the Bulldog touchdown. The score four minutes before the half cut Cal's lead down to five, 19-14.
On its first drive of the second half, Cal drove 91 yards on six plays and scored on a 23-yard Maynard to Jones pass.
Late in the third quarter, Cal defensive back Cecil Whiteside stripped Carr of the ball when he was reaching back for a pass. Trevor Guyton picked up the fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown, putting the Bears up 33-14.
That pretty much put the game out of reach. Fresno State did get one final touchdown, a seven-yard Carr to Harper pass with 3:29 left in the game.