Sept. 26, 2009
Cincinnati (AP) - The Fresno State football team wanted to keep one of the nations leading offenses off the field. The strategy nearly was successful as the Fresno State offense was on the football field for 43:42 compared to 16:18 for No. 14 Cincinnati (4-0). Despite the time of possession difference the Bearcats still pulled out a 28-20 victory on Saturday afternoon at Nippert Stadium.
Ryan Mathews carried the ball a career-high 38 times for 145 yards, topping the 100-yard mark for the fourth straight game. He was the Bowl Subdivision's leading rusher coming in, averaging 149 yards per game. His ability to find holes behind 270-pound fullback Reynard Camp kept Cincinnati on the defensive all game.
Fresno State had the fourth-best running game in the nation, and showed it wouldn't be pushed around by churning out a 17-play drive that took more than eight minutes in the second quarter. Ryan Colburn's 21-yard touchdown pass to Jamel Hamler - uncovered in the middle of the field - cut it to 21-17 with 7 seconds left before halftime.
The Bulldogs had 443 yards of total offense to 357 for Cincinnati. Fresno State grounded out 290 yards on the ground. Colburn passed for 153 yards, one touchdown and had one interception.
The Bulldogs had a chance to take the lead in the third quarter as they had the ball on the Cincinnati six-yard line but on a fourth-and-two from the Bearcat six-yardline, quarterback Ryan Colburn was intercepted, ending a 14 play. 59 yard and 7:34 drive.
Cincinnati's offense had the ball for only one minute in the third quarter - a three-and-out drive that put the whole burden on the defense. Linebacker Craig Carey's first career interception on Fresno State's pivotal fourth-down pass helped the Bearcats improve to 25-0 under coach Brian Kelly when they open the fourth quarter with a lead.
Mardy Gilyard also caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in another career day. The senior receiver and returner had nine catches for a career-best 177 yards, giving him eight touchdowns in four games.
.The Bearcats' no-huddle offense needed only 2:12, 1:43, 2:53 and 1:45 to zip down the field for its touchdowns, giving the defense little rest. The game was in the hands of that tired crew after Fresno State got the ball back at its 7-yard line following a punt with 3:55 to go.
Fresno State had one last shot to tie the game as they drove to the Cincinnati 38-yard line thanks to a Lonyae Miller 33-yard run. But the hopes for an upset victory ended when Colburn's fourth-down pass from the Cincinnati 37 was broken up by safety Aaron Webster with 39 seconds left, clinching it.
POSTGAME NOTES AND QUOTES
HEAD COACH Pat Hill: "This was a tough loss. We came in here with a good game plan and for the most part were pretty successful at doing what we wanted. We kept their offense off the field. They are a heck of a team and really are explosive on offense. We gave up a few big plays, but for the most part we did a good job. To hold a team like that to 28 points at home and350 total yards is a good effort by our defense."
"We had our chances like we have the last two games. I feel so bad for the guys in that locker room. They have worked hard and played hard and deserve to have some success."
"This has been a tough stretch. Nobody else has played two games on the east coast, and we are playing against some really good teams. The break comes at a good time for us. We can get some rest and get ready for another tough road trip to Hawaii."
"We Are Your Team" - The Bulldogs travel to Hawai'i to take on the WAC rival Warriors on Saturday, October 10th at 8 p.m. The game can be seen on the Bulldog Sports Network on KAIL MY53 (Comcast Cable, Channel 13). The Bulldogs return to Bulldog Stadium on Saturday, October 17 as they host San Jose State in the annual Homecoming game. The Community Food Bank along with the Bulldog Pantry will be hosting a canned food drive so bring canned food to help feed the Central Valley's hungry. Tickets can be purchased at the Bulldog Ticket Office, by calling 278-DOGS or online at GoBulldogs.com.
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