The Fresno State Bulldogs (2-3, 1-0 MWC) kicked off the conference portion of their schedule by beating the University of New Mexico Lobos (1-3, 0-1 MWC) 35-24 in Albuquerque on Friday night.
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start on offense again as wide receiver LeKendrick Williams fumbled on Fresno State’s first position. The ball was recovered by the Lobos on their own 13-yard line. Running back Crusoe Gongbay ran 69 yards on the next play to put them in scoring position. After a series of runs and a goal-line stand by the Fresno State defense, kicker Zack Rogers made a 19-yard field goal to open up the scoring, making it 3-0 New Mexico.
The score stayed at 3-0 until the Bulldogs and quarterback Brian Burrell went on an 8 play 75-yard scoring drive to end the first quarter and lasting into the start of the second. The drive was highlighted by a 32-yard pass from Burrell to wide receiver Aaron Peck and capped off by a 23-yard pass from Burrell to wide out Josh Harper to make the score 7-3 Bulldogs with 14:20 left in the second quarter.
The Lobos answered back on their next possession. Quarterback, Lamar Jordan who was 4 of 7 for 97 yards and one touchdown on the night, threw a 24-yard pass to receiver Reece White to start the drive. After the pass, it was all runs for the rest of the drive. Running Back Jhurrell Pressley put the Lobos back in front with an 18-yard run for a touchdown putting the Lobos up 10-7.
On the ensuing drive after a Fresno State three-and-out, Pressley caught a 32-yard pass from Jordan to kick start another scoring drive. Following runs by Gongbay, Pressley and David Anaya to put New Mexico in scoring position, Jordan ran 26 yards for another score to give the Lobos a 17-7 advantage.
After that score, it looked as though New Mexico would go into the second half with a 17-7 lead, but the Bulldogs were able to respond towards the end of the first half. Burrell guided them down the field on an eight-play 87-yard touchdown drive that took just 37 seconds. The drive was set up by a pair of passes. A 32-yard pass to wide receiver Da’Mari Scot then one for 25 yards to Harper to put the Bulldogs in scoring position. Another 8-yard pass to Harper followed by a 10-yarder to running back Josh Quezada put Fresno State in the endzone, making the score 17-14 New Mexico at the half.
The Bulldogs carried the momentum of their scoring drive at the end of the first half into the second as they scored to start the second half after starting with the ball. The 12-play 92-yard drive was highlighted by a 21-yard reception by running back, Marteze Waller, a pass from Burrell to Harper for another 28 yards and a run by Waller for 17 yards. Receiver Greg Watson caught a three-yard touchdown pass to cap off the drive and give Fresno State a 21-17 lead.
New Mexico wasn’t done scoring though. They used the ground game exclusively to get into scoring position, then Jordan threw a pass to Anaya, who ran 36 yards for a touchdown. That finished off a nine-play, 70-yard drive, to make the score 24-21 New Mexico, mid-way through the third quarter.
Burrell then threw an interception on third down on the following drive. Fresno State’s defense responded well forcing the Lobos to punt following a three-and-out.
When the Bulldogs got the ball back, Burrell responded by taking the offense on another scoring drive. He put the team in position with a 45-yard run down to the New Mexico five yard-line. Quezada put the team on the board again by running it in for another touchdown from the 1-yard line following a four-yard pass from Burrell to Peck. The run gave Fresno State a 28-24 lead that they would never relinquish.
The Bulldogs finished off their scoring for the night in the fourth quarter. The drive included a pass interference penalty on second-down that gave the Bulldogs a fresh set of downs. A pair of runs by Waller for 13 and 14 yards highlighted the drive. Once the team was in scoring position, Burrell ran it in from three yards creating an eventual final score of 35-24.
Burrell had his best game of the season, throwing for 318 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He also had 63 yards rushing and ran for a touchdown as well. Marteze Waller also had 19 carries and 163 yards on the night.
Fresno State head coach, Tim DeRuyter was happy with the win saying after the game, “I’m really pleased with our guys going on the road and getting a good conference win. “We didn’t start off the game particularly well. “Credit New Mexico, who came out and played hard and made some things difficult with some wrinkles they added to their offense, but our guys came out and did a great job in the second half,” DeRuyter added.
Fresno State returns home to continue conference play next week against the San Diego State Aztecs next Friday, Oct. 3, for “The Night in Navy.”
The team will wear special chrome helmets and navy jerseys. Fans are encouraged to wear navy as well.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00pm PST at Bulldog Stadium.
Former Bulldogs’ quarterback Derek Carr will be the team’s honorary captain for the game against San Diego State.