`Dogs Drop Offensive Shootout at Nevada
Oct. 22, 2011
It was a matchup between the only two undefeated teams in conference play, giving Nevada (4-3, 2-0 WAC) a leg up on the Bulldogs (3-5, 2-1) in the race for the Western Athletic Conference title.
Two costly fumbles, one that Nevada recovered on a muffed punt in the end zone for a touchdown, and an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown from Rishard Matthews lifted Nevada to its fourth-straight win over the Bulldogs.
"I got to give [Nevada] a lot of credit, they capitalized on their chances," head coach Pat Hill said. "We had our opportunities to win that game, but every time we got momentum, give Nevada credit they came back and made some plays or we self-destructed."
Nevada had 581 yards of offense in the game using a balanced attack. Freshman quarterback Cody Fajardo threw for 313 yards and one touchdown and Mike Ball ran for 198 yards on 26 carries and one TD.
Nevada was 9-for-16 on third downs in the game and was 3-of-4 in the fourth quarter. Its late conversions prevented Fresno State's offense from having the opportunity to tie the game late.
The Bulldogs finished with a season-high 522 yards of offense. Junior running back Robbie Rouse ran for 167 yards and two TDs on 24 carries for his sixth 100-yard rushing game this season. Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
"We had two turnovers, they had none, and normally when you win that part of the game you win the game," Rouse said. "We shot ourselves in the foot a lot."
The first quarter was one filled with big plays. Nevada got the 86-yard punt return for a touchdown from Matthews and completed two passes of over 55 yards. However, the Bulldog defense held Nevada to two field goals on its two drives and the Wolf Pack only held a 13-7 lead after 15 minutes.
Fresno State's first quarter points came on a 65-yard touchdown run from Rouse on a third-and-2. It was the longest rush of Rouse's career.
The Bulldogs took a 14-13 lead on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Jalen Saunders at 11:19 in the second quarter. It was a well-earned touchdown for the `Dogs, as they converted three third-downs on the drive that went 75 yards over 15 plays and used up just over six minutes on the clock.
Fajardo and the Wolf Pack answered with a lengthy drive of their own, traveling 80-yards on nine plays. Fajardo finished the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ball.
Fresno State got a 22-yard field goal from Kevin Goessling with 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but Nevada drove down to the Bulldog 31-yard line in the final seconds and Allen Hardison nailed a 48-yard field goal to give the Wolf Pack a 23-17 lead at the half.
Devon Wylie took a wide receiver screen 71-yards to the Nevada nine-yard line on the second play of the second half. The play set up a Carr nine-yard touchdown pass to Victor Dean , which was his first career reception.
The first turnover of the game cost Fresno State seven points two minutes after Dean's touchdown. Wylie muffed a punt inside the five-yard line and the ball rolled into the end zone where Bubba Boudreaux recovered for the touchdown for Nevada.
Ball's 16-yard touchdown run at 6:47 of the fourth quarter gave the Wolf Pack a 37-24 lead, which Rouse answered 47 seconds later with a 25-yard touchdown run of his own.
Fajardo's 23-yard TD run with 2:15 ended up being the winning points. Carr drove Fresno State down for a touchdown with 1:06 left in the game to cut Nevada's lead down to seven, but the `Dogs could not recover the on-sides kick and ended up falling by the score 45-38.
"We Are Your Team" - The Bulldogs are idle next weekend and return to the field on Nov. 5 when they host Louisiana Tech at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU.