Harding's Career High Leads Bulldogs to Victory
Nov. 30, 2007
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -Anthony Harding had a career-high 121 yards rushing on a slippery field, and freshman Ryan Mathews ran for another 99 yards to help Fresno State beat New Mexico State 30-23 on Friday night.
The Bulldogs (8-4, 6-2 Western Athletic Conference) improved to 14-0 all-time against New Mexico State (4-9, 1-7), and now they'll wait to see which bowl game offers them an invitation.
As a steady rain fell, Fresno State rolled up 263 yards on the ground compared with 92 for the Aggies.
Harding had 115 yards rushing in last weekend's 45-29 win over Kansas State.
"It was a great win for us," said head coach Pat Hill. "This game, under these conditions, says a lot about our team. This team has been so resilient all season and this was another example. To go from 4-8 to 8-4 with such a young team is a great accomplishment by them. They deserve a lot of credit."
The only drawback for the Bulldogs was seeing Mathews leave in the fourth quarter with an injured collarbone, just 1 yard short of a 100-yard night. There was no immediate word on the extent of the injury.
"This was a tough game. The conditions were tough. It was hard to move out there especially in the second half. I thought Tom did a great job under the conditions. He was very efficient and threw the ball extremely well. New Mexico State is a scary team to play. When they are on, they can move the ball with anyone. Under these conditions, we had our hands ful," said Hill.
The Bulldogs scored 24 straight points for a 30-13 lead after Harding's 6-yard TD run in the third quarter. During that burst, quarterback Tom Brandstater also had a 1-run plunge and Mathews scored on a 7-yard run.
But the Aggies rallied with a 24-yard field goal from Paul Young and Chase Holbrook's 1-yard TD run, trimming the margin to 30-23 with 5:43 remaining.
After Fresno's Clint Stitser missed a late 24-yard field goal attempt, the Aggies took over at their own 20 with 1:04 remaining but stalled on downs near midfield.
Brandstater completed 10 of 19 passes for 205 yards, and Holbrook was 30-of-51 for 323 yards, throwing a 66-yard TD strike to Kenneth Buckley.
Remarkably, neither team committed a turnover on a wet, cold night.
The Aggies were hoping to send retiring defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer out with a victory. The former Pittsburgh Steelers assistant and ex-head coach at Missouri and Vanderbilt worked the final game of a 40-year career.
The Bulldogs are bowl-eligible for the eighth time over the past nine seasons. One possibility is a return to New Mexico in a few weeks as the WAC's representative for the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque.
Other possible trips include WAC tie-ins with the Hawaii and Humanitarian bowls.
"We are looking forward to a bowl game," said Hill. "We obviously don't know where we will go, but this group is excited about eight wins and a chance to win nine. We have some guys that need some rest but we still have a lot of work to do. The coaches will be on the road recruiting and the players have final exams. So we will have three busy weeks leading up to the bowl game. I'm really proud of this team. I hope everyone can come out to the awards banquet Sunday afternoon and honor these players, especially the seniors. They deserve a lot of credit for a great season. It's not over and we can look forward to a bowl game."
Fresno State will hold it annual awards banquet on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. at the Fresno Convention Center.
"Join the State - Fresno State!" - The Fresno State men's basketball team returns to the Save Mart Center for Community Night on Wednesday, December 5 against Cal-State Monterey Bay at 7 p.m. Tickets are just $2 for adults and $1 for youth (ages eighteen and under). Tickets can be purchased at the Save Mart Center Box Office, online at ticketmaster.com, or by phone at (559)485-TIXS.