Ajirotutu Catches Pair of TDs against Wolf Pack
Nov. 7, 2008
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Fresno State head coach Pat Hill gave his team credit for playing hard, but in the end too many mistakes and missed opportunities cost the Bulldogs against a tough Nevada offensive sqaud. Four Bulldog turnovers were more than the team could handle in a 41-28 loss at Bulldog Stadium.
Vai Taua ran for a career-best 263 yards and a late touchdown, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick added 118 yards and two scores in Nevada's 472-yard rushing attack on Friday night.
Several Bulldogs had stellar nights, including Seyi Ajirotutu who caught two touchdown passes, Lonyae Miller who had a long touchdown run and return whiz A.J. Jefferson, who ran a kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown.
It was Fresno State's first home loss to the Wolf Pack since 1998. Under Pat Hill, the Dogs have won eight of 11 games.
Seyi Ajirotutu caught two touchdown passes from Tom Brandstater for the Bulldogs (5-4, 2-3), who lost their second straight and dropped to 1-3 at Bulldog Stadium this season with just their second loss to Nevada in the schools' last 10 meetings. Brandstater went 23-of-43 for 260 yards, but threw two interceptions.
A.J. Jefferson returned a kickoff 93 yards for a score in the fourth quarter to keep Fresno State close, but Kevin Grimes intercepted Brandstater's fourth-down pass in the final minutes, and Ajirotutu fumbled at the Nevada 10 with 1:57 to play.
Lonyae Miller also rushed for a score, but Fresno State simply couldn't stop the Wolf Pack, who got Kaepernick's third 100-yard rushing game and Taua's first 200-yard performance of the season. Mike McCoy caught an early touchdown pass, and Taua - a third-stringer when the season began - had the sixth-highest rushing total in school history while averaging 9.4 yards per carry.
Kaepernick and Brandstater both grew up in Turlock, Calif., a San Joaquin Valley town about 80 miles north of Fresno, graduating from different high schools two years apart. While Brandstater is a more classic dropback passer, the 6-foot-6 Kaepernick is thriving in the pistol, a shotgun derivative which involves plenty of option rushing and multiple-receiver sets.
Nevada converted a fourth-and-10 on its opening drive, which ended in a 16-yard TD run up the middle by Kaepernick. The quarterback then hit McCoy on the Fresno State sideline on a fourth-and-6 play for a 36-yard score early in the second quarter.
The Wolf Pack racked up 330 yards of offense and made three lengthy scoring drives in the first half, but Nevada also missed a golden opportunity to score more points in the final seconds.
Taua was stopped at the Fresno State 1, and the clock ran out before the Wolf Pack could call a timeout. The officials didn't see Nevada coach Chris Ault, who won his 196th game, frantically signaling to stop the game before the half ended.
Miller turned the corner on Nevada's defense midway through the third quarter for a 34-yard TD run, but Kaepernick capped another lengthy drive with a 2-yard scoring dive. Kaepernick's 20th rushing score tied him with Hall of Famer Marion Motley for ninth place in the school's career touchdowns list.
Fresno State pulled to 31-21 on the third quarter's final play when Ajirotutu made his second TD catch, but Taua capped a 12-play drive with a 25-yard run for a score with 8:40 to play. After Grimes' interception, Brett Jaekle made his second field goal.
Fresno State vs. Nevada
Top Dogs Return
Ajirotutu Again and Again
"We felt we knew what they were going to do and we just gave up some big plays. We made some adjustments to their game, but they definitely readjusted to our adjustments. "
"We're going to get together and take care of business. Our eyes are all set on New Mexico State. We're going to learn from Nevada. We're going to dominate New Mexico State because we can't have teams thinking they can just go out and beat us like that."
Tight end Bear Pascoe
"We have to put this behind us and focus on beating New Mexico State."
On his fumble:
Head Coach Pat Hill
"We're not the same team we were in September. We need to find a way to make this team win in November."
"We're pretty banged up right now. We only had 62 guys in helmets tonight and we're allowed to send 64 to the hotel."
"Join the State - Fresno State!" - The Dogs continue WAC play at Bulldog Stadium as they host New Mexico State at 2 p.m. on Senior Day. To purchase tickets, click on the tickets icon at the top of this page, call the Bulldog Ticket Office at (559) 278-DOGS, or stop by the Bulldog Ticket Office.