Bulldogs Lose Heartbreaker at NMSU
Nov. 12, 2011
Photo by Robin Zielinski/Las Cruces Sun-News
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State quarterback Matt Christian hit Taveon Rogers on a 37-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 left in the game to lift NM State past Fresno State, 48-45, Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
This is Fresno State's first-ever loss to New Mexico State in the 18-game series history and it ends the Bulldogs' (3-7, 2-3 WAC) chances of getting bowl eligible. The defeat also secures Fresno State of just its third losing season in the last 15 years.
"They made the plays and we didn't," head coach Pat Hill said. "The one consistent part is we have not been able to make plays in crunch time and that's been a huge dilemma in some of our close games."
The game was a battle between the two offensive units and it appeared it would come down to who had the ball last. Fresno State gained 495 yards while the Aggies finished with 500.
Bulldog tailback Robbie Rouse gave Fresno State a 45-51 lead with a two-yard touchdown run at 8:05 of the fourth quarter. The Bulldog defense stopped the Aggies on their ensuing possession, but was unable to pick up a first down to wind the clock down when they got the ball.
After a punt, New Mexico State got the ball on its own 44-yard line with 3:04 to play. It only took four plays for Christian to get the Aggies into the end zone, as Rogers caught a jump ball on a corner route, broke a tackle and walked in for the winning score.
The Bulldog offense, which had their way all night against the Aggie defense, couldn't pick up a first down and Fresno State ended up losing a game that will be tough to swallow.
"It's heartbreaking. You put so much effort into something, like everybody on this team does, like coach Hill does, and to come up short, it is tough," said sophomore quarterback Derek Carr, who threw for a career-high 391 yards on 22-of-34 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
"It doesn't matter to me. To be totally honest, I don't care about all that stuff," Carr said of his numbers. "I just want to win."
Carr connected all night on the long ball, as he completed eight passes of over 20 yards, and he repeatedly hit his favorite target Jalen Saunders.
Saunders caught seven passes for a career-high 174 yards and had two touchdown receptions of 59 and 64 yards in the third quarter. He also added in a 15-yard touchdown run in the wild third quarter where the two teams combined for 400 yards of offense and 36 points.
Rouse ran 23 times for 86 yards and had two touchdown runs along with a 20-yard touchdown catch near the end of the second quarter.
For the Aggies, it was Rodgers who did the damage. He set a NM State single-game record with 412 all-purpose yards. Rodgers had 10 catches for 166 yards and the game winning TD reception and also returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
With three games to play, Carr, Hill and the Bulldogs are now playing for pride.
"We're not going to quit, we're just going to keep moving forward," Hill said. "We go to Hawai'i next week and are going to try to win. We just got to fight through this."
"We Are Your Team" - Fresno State travels to Hawai'i next weekend in a game being televised once again by the WAC Sports Network. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. PT.