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August 30, 2013

Bulldogs win a thriller against Rutgers

Fresno State entered Bulldog Stadium Thursday night for their long awaited opener with the Rutgers Scarlett Knights. When all was said and done, the Bulldogs won an overtime thriller, 52-51.

Early Going

Rutgers won the toss and chose to defer to the second half giving the 'Dogs the ball to start the game.

Dillon Root took the kickoff out across the 'Dogs 25 and Derek Carr and the offense never looked back. With the help of a big catch from Marcel Jensen and a long dash up the middle by Josh Quezada the Bulldogs marched down the field and scored their first touchdown of the 2013 season on a 3-yard run by Quezada on 4th and 1.

Seconds later the 'Dogs had their first big mistake of the season. On the ensuing kickoff Rutgers kick returner Jeremy Deering took the kick right up the seam and went untouched for a 99-yard touchdown.

After a Bulldog three and out Rutgers converted a huge 30-yard pass play from Gary Nova to Brandon Coleman on 3rd and 17 and went another 20-yards before the drive stalled. On fourth down Rutgers kicker Kyle Federico made good on a 48-yard field goal attempt putting the Scarlett Knights up three.

The 'Dogs had a promising drive at the end of the first quarter. They drove the ball all the way into the red zone before Carr threw an interception in the end zone to dash the Fresno State scoring opportunity.

Rutgers didn't take long to capitalize on Carr's first mistake of the season. On the second play of the ensuing drive Nova hooked up with sophomore receiver Leonte Caroo, who beat L.J. Jones on the play, for a 69-yard touchdown.

The Bulldogs caught a break halfway through the 2nd quarter when Rutgers muffed a punt. The 'Dogs took over at Rutgers' 40-yard line and mounted a drive down to the one. The Bulldogs would get lucky again; after a goal line stand Rutgers defensive lineman Darius Hamilton was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty giving them new life. Two plays later Malique Micenheimer punched it in for a touchdown bringing the Bulldogs within six.

Following a crucial third down stop by the Bulldog defense with just under two minutes to go, the offense marched 80 yards down the field in ten plays, and completed the drive on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams as time expired. The Bulldog went into the locker room at half time up 21-20.

Second Half, Second Wind

The 'Dogs entered the second half with new life. After a somewhat lackluster start the defense made an impressive quick three and out allowing the team to keep a hold of the momentum gained at the end of the second quarter.

The 'Dogs first drive of the second half would stall, and Rutgers was there to capitalize. Running back Paul James carried the ball off the right side for 65-yards before being knocked out at the Fresno State three yard line. However, the Bulldogs defense rose to the occasion and kept Rutgers out of the end zone with a tremendous play from Karl Mickelsen. Rutgers converted on a 19-yard field goal to regain a two point advantage.

Rutgers did not hold the lead for long. On 4th and 3 from the Rutgers 40-yard line Carr kept the ball himself and ran for 20 yards delivering a blow to the defender at the end of it. Carr inspired his offense to score a touchdown two plays later on a 15-yard pass to Josh Harper to give the 'Dogs a five point lead.

The Bulldogs entered the fourth quarter down by a score of 31-28. Following a big three and out Isaiah Burse gave the 'Dogs an electrifying punt return inside Rutgers territory. Three plays later the Carr and Adams struck again, hooking up for a 20-yard touchdown to give the 'Dogs a four point lead with 11 minutes remaining.

On the ensuing possession the 'Dogs fanatical defense rose to the occasion once again, with three straight plays for loss including the first sack of the game to give Carr and the offense the ball back.

With eight minutes to go the game saw three turnovers on three straight plays. The play immediately following a Josh Harper fumble, Derron Smith made an incredible interception, but just as it seemed the 'Dogs had all the momentum, Marteze Waller fumbled on the very next play giving Rutgers the ball at the Fresno State 35.

Immediately following the turnover Rutgers decided to go for it on 4th and 4 from the Bulldogs 15 and beat Curtis Riley in man coverage for a demoralizing touchdown for the eighth lead change of the game, giving Rutgers a 38-35 advantage with five minutes remaining.

The Bulldogs put their season opener in the hands of true freshman Colin McGuire and he did not disappoint. With just under four minutes to go down three McGuire trotted out and hit a game tying 45-yard field goal, the first field goal attempt of his career.

On 3rd and long the Bulldogs defense had what seemed to be a game saving stop. However, a phantom pass interference flag was thrown, and as Rutgers has done all game, they capitalized and completed a 30-yard touchdown pass on the very next play to take a 45-38 lead with under a minute and a half left.

On the ensuing kickoff, Root, who had been quiet all night, busted a huge return into Rutgers territory to give Carr and the offense life. The Bulldogs offense went down and tied the game on a touchdown pass from Carr to Harper, sending the game into overtime (after Rutgers missed a potential game-winning 43-yad field goal).

Even More Football

The Bulldogs struck first in overtime. Rutgers won the coin toss, chose to defend and the Bulldog offense made them pay. On the first play Carr hooked up with Greg Watson for a 25-yard touchdown and gave the 'Dogs a 52-45 lead.

Rutgers would respond, however. In three plays the Scarlett Knights scored and opted to go for a 2-point conversion that failed, giving the Bulldogs the victory by a final score of 52-51.

You can follow FSBulldogs.com on Twitter at @FresnoDogs.


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