Fresno State pulled out the 34-20 win against Sacramento State, but it wasn’t pretty.
Six drives ended in Sacramento State territory without any points for the Bulldogs, excluding the kneel-down drive to end the game. Three of them ended with missed field goals, two from fumbles and the ‘Dogs punted once in Hornets’ territory. Fresno State also punted on a drive that ended at the 50-yard line.
“It was a win,” Tedford said. “A lot of work to do. A lot of mistakes that we need to clean up. We have a lot of respect for Sac State. I want to give them a lot of credit, because they’re a really good football team.”
Ultimately, in the mess of missed opportunities and poor execution, one player stood out: running back Josh Hokit.
Hokit put the Bulldogs on his back in the fourth quarter, picking up yards against Sacramento State’s top-notch run defense that were very hard to come by.
He scored three touchdowns, two rushing and one receiving, and was Fresno State’s leading rusher with 72 yards on the ground. He averaged six yards per carry against a Hornets team that came into the game giving up under two yards per carry.
“We kind of got big at the end,” Tedford said. “We got some down and distance situations where we could pound a little bit. Even though at the point of attack there was decent blocking, Josh made a lot of that happen on his own.”
Tedford added that when Hokit runs, the pile doesn’t move backward very often, and he called Hokit a force.
“He’s a hard-nosed tough kid, and I thought he played really well tonight,” Tedford said.
Quarterback Jorge Reyna completed 66 percent of his passes, putting together the best game he’s had yet. He threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns, and notably didn’t have any interceptions.
“I thought Jorge played pretty well,” Tedford said. “Missed a couple reads, missed a couple throws, but we also had three dropped balls too.”
After two tough losses with interceptions to end the games, Reyna picked up his first win as the starting quarterback.
“It means a great deal, however it’s a great team win,” Reyna said. “A lot of our guys stepped up. A lot of our fans realize, ‘Hey, we have multiple weapons. We have a great team.’ And when we’re clicking together and executing – unstoppable.”
Reyna’s receivers stood out, primarily Keric Wheatfall who lead the team with 98 yards and was a deep threat all night.
The play of the game was punter Blake Cusick’s punt in the third quarter that pinned Sacramento State to its one-yard line. Cusick had an excellent night and put the defense in a good position. Sacramento State didn’t have one drive start in Fresno State territory.
“From out past midfield to put it on the one-yard line was huge at that point to keep them backed up,” Tedford said. “That sticks out the most in my mind right now.”
Defensively the Bulldogs forced Sacramento State to punt 9 times and only gave up 19 rushing yards total. Also, the Hornets were only 4-14 on third-down conversions, a much better rate for the Bulldogs’ defense than the previous games.
As far as the three missed field goals by kicker Cesar Silva, Tedford isn’t worried.
“We know he’s a good kicker, it was just one of those nights that didn’t go his way,” Tedford said. “And we need to go back and correct it, but we know he’s a good kicker. We’ll fix it. We’ve got to keep his confidence high.”
Fresno State improves to 1-2 on the season, with one nonconference game remaining next week against New Mexico State.
“We’re fortunate to win the game tonight,” Tedford said. “It always feels good to win, don’t get me wrong, because it’s hard to win. I was proud of our team, their resiliency.”
Photo: Keith Kountz/Fresno State Athletics