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September 21, 2013

Bulldogs get the monkey off their back

Friday night the Bulldogs took on the Boise State Broncos in front of the first sellout crowd in Bulldog Stadium since 2008, after a hard fought up-and-down game the Bulldogs came out the victors with a 41-40 win over their bitter rivals.

Quick Start

On the opening kickoff, Boise State's return man tried to test the Bulldogs' secondary and paid the price, corner Jonathon Norton buried him at the 14-yard line. After a first down the Bulldogs' defense rose up and stopped the Broncos on a third-and-five, to get the offense the ball for the first time.

The 'Dogs first offensive possession was a thing of beauty. After a 15-yard facemask penalty the 'Dogs put together an eight play scoring drive capped off by a huge 15-yard passing touchdown from Derek Carr to Josh Quezada on third and long to give the 'Dogs an early 7-0 lead.

Boise's second drive began in the shadows of the student section after a huge tackle for loss by safety Charles Washington, the crowd noise forced Joe Southwick to take the Broncos' first timeout of the game, and the defense followed it up with another stop.

After a quick Fresno State three-and-out the Bulldogs' defense made their first mistakes of the night. With a lack of discipline the 'Dogs took two personal fouls extending the Broncos' drive on both occasions. After the second personal foul put the Broncos at the Fresno State two-yard line, the defense made a stand on two straight plays but broke on the third allowing a one-yard touchdown run by Jay Ajayi to even the score 7-7 with four minutes left in the first.

The Bulldogs' offense struck back in their normal explosive manner. After a dropped pass by Davante Adams, Greg Watson caught an 11-yard screen for a Bulldog first down, and on the very next play he streaked down the sideline and connected with a Carr pass for a 68-yard gain down to the one. After a soft run by Malique Micenheimer, a dropped pass, and a miscommunication between Carr and Watson, the Bulldogs' offense would stall and have to settle for a 20-yard field goal from Colin McGuire to put the 'Dogs up 10-7.

On the ensuing possession the Bulldogs defense would make another costly mistake. This time it came in the face of a blown coverage between corner Curtis Riley and linebacker Donavon Lewis that allowed for a big 60-yard pass play to Geraldo Boldewijn. The Bulldogs' defense would get tough in the redzone and force the Broncos to settle for a 31-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10 after one quarter.

The Bulldogs' started the second quarter much like they did the first. After allowing a couple big pass plays the defense made a stand with two straight sacks including a fourth down stop to give the offense the ball back.

Once the offense had the ball they never looked back. In typical Schramm/Carr style the 'Dogs went 65 yards on just two plays, the first a 44-yard pass to Isaiah Burse, the second a 21-yard touchdown to Josh Harper who went up and snatched the ball over the defenders back to put the 'Dogs up 17-10 with just under 12 minutes left in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs wouldn't hold the lead for long. A short kickoff and bad coverage by the kick team allowed Boise to start the drive on the Fresno State 39-yard line. On the ensuing play Southwick was slammed to the turf by Derron Smith and forced to leave the game. However, the Broncos did not miss a beat. Backup quarterback Grant Hedrick entered the game, and following a couple successful run plays, threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Troy Ware. The Broncos would go for two on a swinging gate play but were unsuccessful, leaving the 'Dogs ahead 17-16.

After a dropped pass by Watson led to a three-and-out the Bulldogs' defense made big play to get the offense the ball back. After a series of successful comeback routes, Southwick went back to what had worked all game, this time Derron Smith would not be fooled. Smith jumped the route and intercepted the ball for his second pick of the year.

The Fresno State offense, not to be outdone by their counterparts, put together a spectacular drive after the turnover with a nine play scoring drive. As the Bulldogs' drive seemed to stall a huge fourth down conversion on a pass to Isaiah Burse kept them alive, and they were able to finish the drive with a five-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Harper to put the 'Dogs up 24-16 with under three minutes remaining in the half.

Following the touchdown drive the Boise State Broncos attempted to orchestrate one of their own, with under three minutes left in the half the Broncos' offense moved the ball downfield with ease into the redzone. The Bulldogs' stingy defense would make yet another series of great plays. Two pass breakups and a huge hit and sack from linebacker Ejiro Ederaine later, Boise State was forced to settle for a field goal to end the half with the Bulldogs up 24-19.

Second Half

The start of the second half featured more of the same from the Bulldogs' offense. Led by Carr the 'Dogs marched down the field on their opening drive on big plays from Isaiah Burse and Marcel Jensen, Carr then took it into his own hands on a QB keeper and ran the ball down to the 2-yard line. The Bulldogs' running backs struggled to punch it in. On third-and-goal from the one Carr would do it himself. He hooked up with Davante Adams for a one-yard touchdown pass, his fourth of the game, to give the 'Dogs a 31-19 lead.

After an empty possession from each team's offense, Boise began to drive down the field. After a four minute drive the Broncos decided to go for it on a fourth down from the Fresno State 15-yard line. The Bronco's appeared to convert on the fourth down, but linebacker Karl Mickelsen punched the ball out of the arms Bronco running back Jay Ajayi, and the fumble was recovered by L.J. Jones to give the 'Dogs the ball back.

Immediately after the turnover Carr and the offense picked up where they had left off. The Bulldogs' offense stormed down the field on seven plays and looked to have what they thought was an Isaiah Burse touchdown. The play was called back on an illegal chop block, and the 'Dogs drive would stall. They settled for a 28-yard field goal from Colin McGuire to take a 34-19 lead.

Blown Lead

With a two possession lead the 'Dogs got lazy. Another kick coverage blunder gave the Broncos the ball to start their drive from the Fresno State 35-yard line. On the ensuing play the Broncos went 35 yards right up the middle for a touchdown to cut the Bulldog lead to eight at 34-26 right before the end of the third quarter.

A stalled Fresno State drive gave Boise the ball back down eight with a chance to tie the game. Boise compiled an 89-yard drive over the course of about six minutes and scored on a one yard run play to cut the lead to 34-32. The Broncos attempted to go for two on a toss sweep play where they were stopped short, conserving the Bulldogs' two-point lead.

The Bulldogs' special teams have been doing its best to lose the game all night. After giving up two huge returns allowing Boise to have a short field, Boise pooch kicked the kickoff and the Bulldogs stood around like they had never seen it before. Nobody caught the ball and Boise recovered giving them new life with the ball down only two with under eight minutes remaining.

Boise capitalized on the opportunity. Led by a big run by Southwick the Broncos marched right down the field and scored the go ahead touchdown, and completed a circus play two-point conversion to take a 40-34 lead over the 'Dogs with seven minutes left in the game.

Calm Cool and Collected

The 'Dogs would respond. Calm cool and collected, senior quarterback Derek Carr marched his team down the field on an 11-play drive with the help of big catches by Davante Adams. Josh Quezada was able to punch in a two yard rushing touchdown and following the extra point the 'Dogs led 41-40 with two minutes remaining.

After a Bulldog scoring drive the defense would make its biggest stop of the season. After two first downs the 'Dogs held their ground. On a fourth-and-six at the 'Dogs dialed up pressure and forced the ball out early. Southwick's pass fell harmlessly to the turf, and in a fashion eerily similar to the Rutgers game, the Bulldogs would finish on top beating the Boise State Broncos for the first time in seven years.

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


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