Bulldogs Fall 45-20 to USC in Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 21, 2013
By Jason Clay
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - USC scored five first-half touchdowns to open up a 29-point point lead and cruised to a 45-20 win over the 21st-ranked Fresno State Bulldogs at Sam Boyd Stadium in the 2013 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.
"Clearly early in the game, we didn't make enough plays to get into a rhythm," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "We have a lot of respect for USC, they have a lot of good players and are really well coached. They came out very inspired today and you have to give coach [Clay] Helton credit."
Despite losing its fifth-straight bowl game, Fresno State's season is still one of the greatest in school history. The Bulldogs close the year with an 11-2 record, tying the school record for victories.
"This team won 11 ball games and won a second-straight conference championship," DeRuyter said. "I know in my heart that we had a really fine football team and I'm very proud of them. We didn't play our best game today and that goes on me, I got to do a better job getting our guys ready."
Trojan quarterback Cody Kessler set new career-highs with 344 yards passing and four touchdowns to lead USC in its victory. The Trojans (10-4) racked up 487 total yards against the Bulldogs.
Fresno State's offense struggled against the USC defense that came into the game ranked 16th nationally in total defense. The 'Dogs only converted 2-of-14 third-down attempts and finished with 254 total yards, the lowest output of the season.
"They're a good defense for a reason," DeRuyter said. "They're physically very, very good and did a nice job mixing things up."
Bulldog safety Derron Smith, a two-time first-team All-Mountain West selection, led Fresno State on the day. He set a new career-high with 18 tackles and had an interception that he returned 41 yards for a touchdown. It was his seventh pick of the season and 14th of his career.
"Schematically wise, they don't do anything too confusing, they just have a lot of athletes all over the field," Smith said of USC's offense. "They got a good solid quarterback and a tough run game."
USC scored touchdowns on five of its seven drives in the first half to jump out to a 35-6 lead. The Bulldogs only converted 1-of-8 third down attempts in that first half and were out-gained by 175 yards.
After Karl Mickelsen recovered a muffed punt that came following Fresno State's first drive of the third quarter, Derek Carr hit Davante Adams on a 23-yard touchdown pass for his 50th TD of the season.
On that play Carr became just the fourth quarterback in FBS history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season and have 50 touchdown passes. He finished the game going 30-for-54 passing for 217 yards and two touchdowns against one interception.
"It's been so fun," Carr said when asked to reflect on his storybook career at Fresno State. "It's bittersweet, like I [say all the time] I should be a Bulldog for the next 20 years, but I got to feed [my son] Dallas."
Isaiah Burse had six catches for 39 yards and one touchdown in the game where he went over 1,000 yards receiving for the season. With Davante Adams and Josh Harper already having over 1,000 yards, the Bulldogs became the fifth team in FBS history to have three 1,000-yard receivers in a season.
Adams set a new MW single-season record for catches in a year with 131 after catching nine passes for 74 yards and a touchdown against USC. He finished his record season with 24 touchdown catches, which is the fourth-most in FBS history.
The 2013 season was a record-setting one for Fresno State. The Bulldogs are 20-6 in two seasons under DeRuyter and have a promising future ahead of them.
"I think it's good, we got a lot of talented players, great coaches and the sky is the limit," Smith said of the outlook for the program. "We just got to keep working and using this as fuel for next year."
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