Fresno State opened up conference play Saturday night against Nevada with an undefeated record on the line.
That record moved right along as the No. 25 Bulldogs had little trouble dispatching the Wolfpack 27-9 to improve to 5-0.
What happened: Nevada received the opening kickoff and started what looked to be a worrying sign for the Bulldogs. The Wolfpack had a slow, methodical drive that included two fourth down conversions.
- But immediately after the second of those two conversions, the Wolfpack were penalized for holding to put them behind the sticks. Fresno State pounced, coming up with a tackle for loss on first down and a 7-yard sack on third down to push Nevada out of field goal range.
- In the end Nevada’s 18-play drive only netted the Wolfpack 41 yards, and the timely performance by Fresno State to force the punt set the tone for the rest of the game.
- The Bulldogs quickly capitalized with what would be the first of two long touchdown plays in the first half. Quarterback Mikey Keene hit receiver Jaelen Gill out left in the flat, who turned the corner on the sideline and took the ball 65 yards to the end zone to give the Bulldogs an early 7-0 lead.
- Fresno State’s second big play came in the second quarter. Running back Malik Sherrod ran up the middle and appeared to be down, but he landed on the legs of offensive lineman Mose Vavao and bounced right back up directly in front of Nevada’s unsuspecting defense to sprint 72 yards to the end zone.
- Although Keene had a miscue to open up the second half with an interception, the defense responded with a three-and-out, and Keene regrouped the offense to lead scoring drives on the next three possessions, followed up by a missed field goal.
- The Wolfpack didn’t find the scoreboard until forcing a safety in the fourth quarter. Nevada then went on to its lone touchdown drive of the game in garbage time against Fresno State’s second unit on defense.
By the numbers: Nevada’s offense was abysmal all night, struggling to gain any sort of momentum outside of the first drive of the game, which fell short. Only four of Nevada’s 12 drives managed to go for over 15 yards, and on half of the Wolfpack’s drives the offense failed to gain any yards.
- Fresno State only committed 3 penalties for a loss of 35 yards. Nevada, on the other hand, was penalized 10 times, which set the Wolfpack back 98 yards.
- Another comparison showing the discrepancy between each team came on special teams. Fresno State only punted once, which came late in the game, while Nevada had to send the punt unit out 9 times.
- Keene threw for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns, completing 76 percent of his passes. He did throw 2 interceptions, however, keeping his game from being untarnished.
- Sherrod had his first 100-yard game with the Bulldogs with 123 yards on the ground and 1 touchdown, and Gill led all receivers with 8 receptions for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns.
What they’re saying: “That’s a good football team,” said Head Coach Jeff Tedford. “Their defense – I was very concerned going into this game, because their defense is very solid, very tough to run the ball against. I thought they did a good job most of the night of shutting us down on the run game and put a lot of pressure on our passer. Have a lot of respect for them and what they did and how they play on defense.”