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October 20, 2013

A grand homecoming for the Bulldogs

The Fresno State Bulldogs walked onto their home turf Saturday night for the first and only time in October and walked off it with a 38-14 win over the UNLV Rebels.

Fast Start

The Bulldogs' high-flying offense would waste no time. After a touchback on the opening kickoff Derek Carr hooked up with Davante Adams for a 75-yard touchdown pass giving the 'Dogs a 7-0 lead less than 15 seconds into the game.

Not to be outdone by the offense, the Fresno State defense rose to the occasion on their first possession of the game. After allowing two first downs the 'Dogs made a stand with the help of a huge tackle for loss by cornerback Curtis Riley followed by consecutive sacks by safety Charles Washington and linebacker Ejiro Ederaine to give the ball back to the offense.

The first two drives of the night for the Bulldogs' offense were very different, but ended with the same result. After chewing up some clock relying on the legs of running back Marteze Waller the 'Dogs capped another drive on yet another spectacular catch and run by Davante Adams for a 28-yard touchdown. That play gave Fresno State a 14-0 lead with about five minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The helmets were not the only thing throwback about the 'Dogs on Saturday night. On their third drive, after explosive plays from Isaiah Burse and a first down run by Derek Carr in which he went airborne to reach the marker, the high-flying, fast paced Fresno State offense lined up in a double tight T formation in the red zone. From there they pounded the ball in for another touchdown on a 2-yard run by Josh Quezada.

As they have been all year, the Fresno State defense was again susceptible to the big play. Following a short completion, the Rebels handed the ball off to their speedster Shaquille Murray-Lawrence who left the entire defense in his dust on the way to a 73-yard touchdown to cut the Fresno State lead to 14.

But as has been the case all season, the Bulldogs' offense would respond. After a decent return by T.J. Thomas and some hard running from Quezada, the Bulldogs' big play receiver Davante Adams would strike for his third touchdown grab of the night, this time from 36 yards out to give the 'Dogs a 28-7 lead.

After trading missed field goals the Bulldogs' defense would rise up again and force a much needed three-and-out. On fourth and about six UNLV attempted a desperation fake punt, but the 'Dogs were not fooled and stopped them just short of the marker to give their offense the ball back with great field position.

The Bulldogs' offense would squander their good field position. On the first play of the drive the 'Dogs attempted the second double pass of the night. Burse was intercepted by UNLV safety Frank Crawford giving UNLV their own excellent starting field position.

The Rebels' offense would make the most of the gift from their defense. UNLV mounted their only sustained drive of the night and capped it off with a touchdown pass from quarterback Caleb Herring to receiver Marcus Sullivan to cut Fresno State's lead to 28-14 going into the half.

Coasting to the Finish

The start of the second half put on display a weakness that has plagued Fresno State all year. On the opening kickoff of the half the coverage team would again let the 'Dogs down allowing a return across the 50-yard line and giving UNLV another possession with great starting field position. However, the defense would let them off the hook getting the ball back after a quick three-and-out.

The onslaught put on by the Carr-Adams tandem would continue on the ensuing possession. After driving down the field the two would connect on another long touchdown pass from 37 yards out for their fourth touchdown connection of the night, making the score 35-14 with just under ten minutes left in the third quarter.

The defensive intensity was way up to start the second half. Back-to-back huge hits by L.J. Jones and Jonathon Norton had UNLV players limping off the field, and a crucial stop on fourth down would get them off the field without allowing a first down on a second straight drive.

The aerial assault seemed to continue on the Bulldogs' next drive when Carr threw what looked to be his fifth touchdown of the night to Adams, but the touchdown would be taken off the board after an offensive pass interference call, and the 'Dogs would have to settle for a 36-yard Colin McGuire field goal to make the score 38-14.

The fourth quarter saw relatively little action. The Fresno State defense showed more of the same relentless pressure as they had all night forcing Herring into a lot of throwaways and busted plays, while the Bulldogs' offense took their foot off the throttle and milked the clock, happy with a 24-point win on homecoming night.

Record Breaking Night for Carr

For the Bulldogs' star quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Derek Carr this night would be one to remember. In the second quarter on his third touchdown pass of the game Carr would become the all-time leading touchdown passer with 85 career touchdowns, surpassing former Bulldog great Paul Pinegar. Before the end of the night Carr would also pass another milestone when he went over the 10,000 yard mark for his career, finishing the game with 412 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

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


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