Bulldogs Nearly Upset No. 10 Nebraska, 42-29
Sept. 10, 2011
Fresno State (0-2) trailed Nebraska (2-0) 35-29 with just over two minutes to play before Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez broke a 46-yard touchdown run on a third-and-3 to seal the game.
Bulldog head coach Pat Hill said afterwards that it was a great football game and that his team didn't back down an inch, going punch for punch with one of the best teams in the country.
"I'm very proud of our kids for the way they played. They played their hearts out, but in the end we need to win these games," Hill said. "We grew up tonight as a football team."
The Bulldog offense had its way for most of the night against the fearsome Nebraska defense. Fresno State did not allow a single sack the entire night and quarterback Derek Carr was only knocked down once in the game.
"Our offensive line did a great job and we ran the ball well against a team that doesn't give up many rushing yards," Hill said. "I thought we physically matched up and played a very high level of football against a very good football team."
Junior running back Robbie Rouse ran 36 times for 169 yards, his fifth career 100-yard rushing game. Rouse averaged 4.7 yards per run on the Huskers and did not have one rush for negative yardage on the night.
"The offensive line did great and I was able to get on a bit of a roll during the game," Rouse said.
In all, Fresno State finished with 444 yards of total offense to Nebraska's 438 and the Bulldogs ran 25 more plays than the Huskers.
Sophomore quarterback Derek Carr was 20-for-41 passing for 255 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
"I'm so proud of our offensive line," Carr said. "They battled the whole entire game for me and Rouse averaging five yards a carry makes my job a lot easier."
Fresno State hit Nebraska's Martinez all night and caused three fumbles, but were unable to recover any of the three. The `Dogs did pick him off twice, but Martinez hit a number of long passes and finished with 219 yards passing, 166 rushing and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one passing).
"They made some big plays in the passing game and [Martinez] threw up some long balls that they hit on, and that was the difference in the game, a few big plays," Hill said.
Devon Wylie opened the scoring with a bang, returning a punt 67-yards for a Bulldog touchdown midway through the first quarter. Wylie broke several tackles on the play and set up his blocks beautifully on his way into the end zone.
"As soon as I saw a sliver of daylight, I hit it as hard as I could," Wylie said. "From there I just made everybody miss that I could and I got some great blocks."
Nebraska answered quickly with a touchdown of its own on a five-play, 80-yard drive that Martinez finished with a one-yard touchdown run at 5:54.
Carr then ended the first quarter with an acrobatic, three-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-2. He dove head-first over the Husker defender and in mid-air, extended the ball over the pylon for the touchdown.
After Fresno State pinned the Huskers inside their 15-yard line on three-straight possessions in the second quarter, Nebraska finally got out of its end of the field with a 38-yard Martinez run and a 42-yard completion on back-to-back plays. That gave the Huskers the ball on the Fresno State 5-yard line, and Nebraska scored on a fourth-and-goal at the one on a Rex Burkhead rush up the middle.
After an 11-play drive, Kevin Goessling gave the Bulldogs the 17-14 lead heading into the locker room with his 22-yard field goal 25 seconds before the half.
Goessling opened up a 20-14 lead for the Bulldogs early in the third quarter, connecting on a 36-yard field goal.
The lead didn't last long though, as Nebraska scored 14-unanswered points to take a 28-20 lead with just under 13 minutes to play.
However, the Bulldogs were able to answer one-minute later. Carr's 55-yard completion to A.J. Johnson set up a Bulldog touchdown, which came on a 26-yard Carr to Josh Harper pass in the corner of the end zone on a third-and-15.
Fresno State went for the two-point conversion to try to tie the game, but it failed and the Huskers maintained a 28-26 lead.
Ameer Abdullah then returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, making it a two-score game.
After a 37-yard field goal from Goessling at 5:24, the `Dogs only trailed 35-29.
However, Martinez struck again on the third-and-2 with just over two minutes to play with his 46-yard touchdown run that sealed the game.