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October 28, 2013

Fresno State has the will to win




One of the things that separates college football from its peers is that multiple teams can have a magical run. In most sports, magical runs are usually relegated to a team that ultimately wins the sport's greatest prize. But college football allows the nation to be captivated by multiple teams at once and there really hasn't been a more captivating team than the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Amazingly, it's been Fresno's unquestioned leader that has sent opposing coach into 'Carr-diac' arrest by the time all is said and done. Bulldog quarterback Derek Carr has found a way to will this team into remaining perfect, despite several extremely close calls. How does he do it?

"Truth and love comes up," Carr said. "Coach DeRuyter hit it on the head; this team is resilient. This team has a faith that transcends all understanding. We're a very faithful bunch. We believe in each other. We believe in our God. And we believe that, if we love each other and play for each other, it doesn't matter what the clock says, it doesn't matter where they're at, chip-shot field goals - we always think we can win.

"If you saw the sideline while they were kicking that field goal, nobody was worried, nervous, or anything like that. There's a bunch of guys that are saying 'hey, I can't wait to watch this block.' They did a great job."

San Diego State appeared moments away from kicking a chip-shot field goal to secure a victory over the Bulldogs. What happened next will go down in Bulldog history as one of the more memorable things to ever happen.

Lined up behind Bulldog right guard Cody Wichmann and left tackle Austin Wentworth, tight end Marcel Jensen jumped up and threw his massive arms as high as they would go and got enough of the kick to block it and send the game into overtime. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Jensen hadn't seen much playing time this game, but he made the most of his time on that play. Oddly enough, the Bulldogs literally drew the play up and went out and executed it to perfection.

"It was something we kinda drew in the dirt on the sidelines," Jensen said. "I put the bug in Coach [Pete] Germano's ear earlier this year. In 2011, I had three blocks, Cody Wichmann had four, and we had 11 blocks as a unit that season. So, I just kinda put the bug in his ear and we drew it up in the dirt. The season's on the line, so we gotta go.

"I lined up behind Cody and Austin, and they were on top of the right guard. They just blew him up and I was right behind them jumping. I just jumped straight up in the air and got my arms up, got a piece of it. Honestly, I didn't even feel like I got a good jump. But I guess I got good enough extension, I got long arms. Whatever I did, I got it."

But they had to be nervous trying something that they just drew up, right? Wrong. Bulldog outside lineback Ejiro Ederaine, who had a fumble return for a touchdown on one of the year's more awkward plays, couldn't hardly wait for the Aztecs to snap the ball.

"I wouldn't say I was nervous," Ederaine said. "I was really excited out there. It was a really fun game. I know that it was a close game and people would say that's nerve-racking, but it was fun. We watch film. We game plan. I knew how they were going to attack us and for the most part, they played into that game plan. I wasn't really nervous, I was just out there having fun. I was more eager and excited. It's like, 'go ahead and snap the ball and let's get it going in overtime.'


"The only thing I was really worried about was getting off [the ball] because I was on the block side. I was going to take the tight end so Curtis could have a free release to try and block it, but luckily we got big Marcel over there, and 'Cel blocked it from the jump up the middle. But I was worried about my get off, looking at the ball and making sure I was pushing as far as I could into the neutral-zone without being offside and getting a penalty. Then just getting off and hitting him right in the face mask."

Is it really luck when your team is dripping with confidence, though? If you ask Carr, this season has everything to do with the belief this team has in their abilities and their will to win. When asked rather frankly how many lives he thought this team had left, Carr responded with the kind of eloquence and deference you've come to expect from the Heisman hopeful.

"Hopefully a lot, enough to keep winning," Carr said. "I'll tell you what, those are some good games for the television, but not one time does the Fresno State Bulldogs think we're going to lose them. There's not one time where we sit there and say 'oh man, we're three seconds away from our first loss.' I can promise you that. This team thinks, 'we're putting these guys in go block this field goal' and we believe they're gonna do it. It's a belief. It's not a false belief or a false hope. We really think that they're gonna do it and they did it."

A sentiment echoed by Jensen, as well.

"You couldn't write this script any better," Jensen said. "We've won, what's this, three games down to the wire. That locker room over there is full of competitors. When it's crunch time, we know we're gonna compete, and that's exactly what we do."

And they do it in spectacular fashion. Of the three times that the Bulldogs have been on one of ESPN's television affiliates, two have been decided in overtime and one was decided on the final play of the game. With their season on the line and on national television, the Bulldogs have found a way to deliver time and time again.

It's a belief. It's a philosophy. It's a way of life: "we're gonna find a way to win."

They did. They have. And they will with the 'Carr-diac' kid running this team. It's become impossible to count them out of any situation, especially if it's on the biggest stage of them all.

Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the 2013 Fresno State Bulldog season.

Josh Webb is a special contributor to FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @BulldogsTwist.


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