Bulldogs Powered by Strong First Half
Nov. 8, 2009
MOSCOW, Idaho - It only took nine seconds to make it apparent it would be a special night, as Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews busted free for the longest run of his career, a 77-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The play set the tone for the night as he led the Bulldogs to a 31-21 win over Idaho on Saturday in Moscow, Idaho.
Mathews ended the night with 143 yards, to give him his seventh-straight performance of 140 yards or more on the ground. He remained the leading rusher in the NCAA with 1,489 yards, 278 ahead of the next closest, Bernard Pierce of Temple. Mathews also matched a career-high with three touchdowns against Idaho.
The Bulldogs had one of their most efficient all-around offensive performances as junior quarterback completed all of his pass, going 14-for-14 for 159 yards and one touchdown.
Fresno State receivers Seyi Ajirotutu and Marlon Moore each gained more than 40 yards receiving. Ajirotutu caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. Moore's sole reception, a 41-yard catch, was the Bulldogs' longest of the night.
Bulldog kicker Kevin Goessling continues to be automatic from nearly anywhere on the field. The sophomore from Placentia, Calif., connected on a 52-yard field goal to give the Bulldogs a 17-0 lead. The field goal was his 10th-straight field goal without a miss. He has two field goals of 50-yards or more on the season.
A strong first half carried the Bulldogs to the victory. Mathews' leaped over the pile for a touchdown on a crucial fourth-and-goal from the one with 1:07 remaining, giving the Bulldogs a 24-0 lead heading into halftime.
The Fresno State defense also did its job in the first half, as it held the Vandals to 118 yards of total offense, including just 2-for-10 passing for 29 yards.
In the third quarter, Idaho running back De'Maundray Woolridge found daylight with a 68 yard carry to the Fresno State 29-yard line. The Vandals finished the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brian Reader to Max Komar with 5:51 remaining in the third. The pass put Idaho on the scoreboard for the first time, trailing the Bulldogs 24-7.
Mathews' third touchdown of the night put the Bulldogs up 31-7 with 47 seconds remaining in the third, but the Vandals would make a final surge in the fourth quarter.
A four-yard Reader touchdown run and successful two-point conversion, cut the Fresno State lead to 31-15 with 12:21 remaining in the fourth. But the Vandals couldn't cross the goal line again until the final 25 seconds of the game on a 69-yard Maurice Shaw reception from Reader, but the two-point conversion was unsuccessful and the Bulldogs came out with a 31-21 victory.
Fresno State improves to 6-3 on the year and 5-1 in WAC play, while Idaho falls to 7-3 and 4-2 in the WAC.
POSTGAME NOTES AND QUOTES
HEAD COACH Pat Hill: "I give Idaho a lot of credit. They battled tonight. That's not the way we want to finish a game, that's for sure. But getting a win on the road against a good Idaho team was important. They hadn't lost at home all year and they've had some great comebacks at home."
"I thought we played very well in the first half. We executed well on offense the defense played very well."
"We have some work to do to get ready for Nevada next week. That's going to be a big game for us."
"We Are Your Team" - Don't miss the `Dogs on the Bulldog Sports Network as they face the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday, November 14th at 1:00pm (KAIL MY53 - Comcast Cable, Channel 13). The team will return home to face the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in their final home game of the 2009 season on Saturday, November 21st at 2:00pm. The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve "Toys for Tots" Program will also be taking place so be sure to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the game. For tickets and more information, visit GoBulldogs.com or call the Bulldog Ticket Office at 278-DOGS.