Ram Rally Spoils Bulldogs in New Mexico Bowl
Tom Brandstater passes the ball vs. Colorado State. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Tom Brandstater passes the ball vs. Colorado State. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Dec. 20, 2008

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Fresno State had two backs each rush for 100 yards and two touchdowns, but Bulldog miscues in the final quarter saw Colorado State outscore the Bulldogs 20-7 and win 40-35.

The Dogs couldn't find an answer for Ram back Gartrell Johnson, who rushed for a career-high 285 yards and scored two touchdowns.

The Rams (7-6) took their first lead at 33-28 when Billy Farris threw a 69-yard TD to Rashaun Greer with seven minutes left. Fresno State cornerback Sharrod Davis took a big chance but whiffed on his attempt to bat the ball. Greer made the catch at the 30 and went untouched into the end zone.

The loss also spoiled big rushing efforts by Anthony Harding and Lonyae Miller, who each scored twice. Harding finished with 120 yards rushing, and Miller added 113. Fresno State got within 40-35 with 55 seconds to go when Tom Brandstater threw a 7-yard pass to Ryan Skidmore. But Colorado State's Kyle Bell had no trouble fielding the ensuing onside kick.

The loss capped a rough season for the injury-depleted Bulldogs (7-6), who talked in fall workouts about a possible Bowl Championship Series run. They led 28-20 early in the fourth quarter.

Johnson was named most valuable offensive player in front of 24,735 fans.

This was the second bowl game of the bowl season.

He broke a 57-yard run in the first quarter and went another 57 yards on a shovel pass from Farris in the second, leaving defenders reaching for the dreadlocks tumbling out of his helmet.

Johnson, who averaged 99 yards rushing this season, had 97 by the end of the first quarter. He went wild against a young Fresno State defense that had allowed 197 yards rushing per game.

The Rams trailed 21-20 after 6-foot-6 Kory Sperry caught a perfectly placed ball from Farris and beat two defenders in the corner of the end zone with two seconds remaining in the first half.

The Bulldogs played without six starters--four on defense--who were lost for the season. But they were in control most of the way. Miller scored Fresno State's first TD on a 1-yard plunge. Then he bounced outside for a 69-yard TD run to put the Bulldogs up 21-13 late in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs were playing in their ninth bowl game in the last 10 years. Only 16 other schools playing in bowl games this season have been as successful.

2008 New Mexico Bowl
Fresno State vs. Colorado State
University Stadium / Albuquerque, N.M.
Postgame Notes and Quotes
Dec. 20, 2008

Brown Family Reunion
With Dan Brown coaching his final game as Fresno State's defensive coordinator, 27 members of his family were in Albuquerque, N.M. for the New Mexico Bowl. Brown, who once coached at the University of New Mexico and shared an office with CSU head coach Steve Fairchild, also a member of the UNM staff. Brown has been battling brain cancer for two years and will be stepping away from coaching to take care of his health. Brown's wife, Mindy, six children and two grandchildren are at the game, as are nine of his 14 siblings. Brown's mother, Sue, is among those in attendance. Sue Brown, who has 60 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, made the trek from Southern California to attend the game. The remainder of the 101 members of Brown family will be watching today's game on national television from their homes in Alaska, Boston and Southern California. While in New Mexico, Brown was greeted by dozens of his New Mexico friends. They held a dinner to honor Brown on Thursday night. Brown is nationally respected as a coach and family man, as well as a long-time member of the Fresno community.

Double Trouble
For the second time this season, the Bulldogs' running back duo of Lonyae Miller and Anthony Harding each had more than 100 yards in a game. They combined for four touchdowns and 137 yards. Miller finished with 13 carries for 114 yards and Harding had 123 yards on 18 carries. The last time they combined for more than 100 yards was against Hawaii on Oct. 4.

Long Lonyae
Lonyae Miller set a Fresno State bowl record for longest run from scrimmage with a 69 yard touchdown in the second quarter. Miller's run was four yards longer than that of Darrell Rossette, who had a 65 yard run against Western Michigan in Cal Bowl VIII (Dec. 10, 1988). It was Miller's third touchdown run of better than 65 yards this season. He has two of the Top 20 longest runs in the NCAA this season with a 90-yard touchdown against Idaho and one for 80 yards against Hawaii. His rush gave the Dogs a 21-13 lead.

Senior end Ikenna Ike gave up his starting spot to fellow senior end Michael Stuart. Stuart hasn't started a bowl game before and Ike asked defensive coordinator Dan Brown and head coach Pat Hill if Stuart could start in his place and they agreed ... Ike was repaid for his act of kindness getting the game's first sacks in the third quarter ... the Dogs were blessed with terrific weather in Albuquerque, where the elevation is a mile high. The temperature at kickoff was 41 degrees with a slight breeze under sun-drenched skies ... the Dogs went scored a touchdown on the opening drive against Colorado State, third time this season they've scored a touchdown on the opening drive of a game. The Dogs did it against Idaho and Utah State. Fresno State added another touchdown on its second drive of the game, the only time this season it has scored on the first two drives of a game and they had 143 total yards on the two drives combined ... The 41 point scored in the first half set a New Mexico Bowl record for most points scored in a game ... freshman walk-on Shawn Plummer had a career-high 8 tackles in the game.

Head Coach Pat Hill:
"That game was a lot like our season. We had so many ups and downs and had our chances to win the game. We gave up too many big plays. We had dropped balls at tough times and weren't able to make plays. This game is all about making plays and we couldn't when we had to. That was a tough game to lose."

"I give Colorado State credit. They made plays when they had to. The two long plays for touchdowns, their receivers made big-time plays. That's football."

"We have a lot of work to do in the off season. A 7-6 record is not acceptable to us. We have high expectations placed on us but none greater than we put in ourselves. The guys are going to get a month off and when we come back to school in January we are going to start preparing for the 2009 season. We are going to evaluate every area of our program and make improvements."

"Join the State - Fresno State!" - Join the Bulldog men's basketball team for its next home game Saturday, Dec. 20, against USC Upstate at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at TicketMaster or the Save Mart Center box office.



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