'Dogs Claim MW Championship with 24-17 Victory
Dec. 7, 2013
By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
FRESNO, Calif. - Derek Carr threw for 404 yards and the Bulldog defense rebounded after a tough loss last week at San Jose State to lift No. 24 Fresno State past Utah State 24-17 Saturday night to win the inaugural Mountain West Championship game at Bulldog Stadium.
The Bulldogs (11-1), who shared the league crown last year in their first season in the league, won their first outright conference championship for the first time since 1989 in the Big West. This is also Fresno State's first back-to-back conference championships since 1992 and 1993.
"Our whole team did a hell of a job, but I was really proud of our defense," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "Our No. 1 goal is to win the conference championship and we did it with the help of the Red Wave. Our guys got resiliency, they got spirit, but I was really proud of our defense this week."
After the game, the Bulldogs accepted a bid to play in Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 12:30 p.m. PT and it will televised by ABC. They 'Dogs will face an opponent from the Pac-12.
After the game, during the postgame ceremony, Carr who was the offensive MVP, thanked his counterparts on the other side of the ball by saying "defense wins championships."
That defense only allowed 304 yards to the Aggies (8-5) and came up with several big stops when Utah State was threatening to score.
"I've said it all week long, the performance that we put on last week against San Jose State, that's not the defense that we are," said safety Derron Smith, who was named the defensive MVP of the championship game. "You know, that's the way we know how to play, getting sacks, getting physical, getting turnovers, that's what leads us to have a good day on defense."
Smith registered his sixth interception this season in the second quarter when Utah State was closing in to the red zone. Redshirt freshman Dalen Jones, making his first career start, also picked off a pass with 58 seconds left in the game on the Bulldog 17-yard line to ultimately seal the game.
Offensively, Carr led the Fresno State offense that racked up 460 yards against the Mountain West's No. 1 defense. He was 36-of-53 passing for the 404 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.
"This was a big reason why I came back - I wanted to win an outright Mountain West Championship," Carr said. "Sharing a title was great with Boise and San Diego State, but as a competitor that wasn't enough. We had to come back and finish this thing off right."
Carr, who entered the game owning 22 school records, set three more on Saturday night. He set the Bulldog single-season records for touchdown passes in a season (48), passing yards (4,866) and total offense (4,983). All of which are also Mountain West records.
Isaiah Burse caught a career-high 17 passes - tying the school record set by Josh Harper this season - to go along with 132 yards and one touchdown. Davante Adams added nine receptions for 168 yards and one touchdown.
Adams set new school records for career completions (224) and 100-yard receiving games with 13. His 23 touchdown receptions on the year are the fourth-most in FBS history.
In the end though, much like it has been in wins over Rutgers, Boise State, Hawai'i and San Diego State, the defense was the one the field at the end of the game making the play to decide the game.
"Their defense forced a lot of turnovers, but at the end of the day, these resilient guys in [our locker room] got it done," DeRuyter said. "I love `em and can't say enough about them and I am just glad we have one more game left with this group."
Tickets for the 2013 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl will go on sale Sunday morning online at www.GoBulldogs.com beginning at 11 a.m. They are on sale for $55 to the general public, $15 for student and $25 for student-guest tickets.
"Catch the Wave" - The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.