Robbie Rouse rushed 51 yards untouched for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to giving Fresno State a 40-28 lead. The one-play, eight-second drive came after Desia Dunn – playing the ball like a center fielder – intercepted a Ross Jenkins pass with 2:28 remaining in the game as the Bulldogs were rallying after falling behind by 12 points.
“I'm very happy we got a win on the road this is a tough place to play, but we're going to have to improve a lot before Nevada,” Fresno State head coach Pat Hill said after the game.
Austin Raphael blocked a Ryan Allen punt later in the third quarter with Fresno State trailing 21-17. Ryan Colburn capped a seven-play 26-yard drive on a one-yard quarterback keeper to give the ‘Dogs a lead it wouldn’t relinquish with 13:25 remaining in the game.
“Where we didn't do good was we've had zero administrative penalties all year, we had delays of games and we have to clean some things up,” added Hill. “We got all of our receivers back but I think we're trying to do a little too much to do with them some were lined up in the wrong positions.”
While the Bulldogs did commit seven penalties for 60 yards, Louisiana Tech probably committed the most critical penalty prior to Colburn’s go-ahead scored.
With a first and goal at the La. Tech 3-yard line, Hill called four straight blast plays for Rouse. The sophomore netted two yards on the first attempt, but he was stopped for no gain on the subsequent three runs. However, Justin Ellis was called for a facemask penalty on fourth down giving FS a first and goal at the one.
Louisiana Tech looked unstoppable early as the Bulldogs jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game on a pair of early touchdowns. However, the Fresno State defense would clamp down on defense. LT gained 91 yards in its first two drives but only 60 yards the rest of the first half.
Fresno State would answer with Jamel Hamler.
The junior wideout caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Colburn to give the Bulldogs their first score of the game with 6:52 mark in the first quarter. Hamler caught a second touchdown reception that gave FS a 17-14 lead in the third quarter. He finished with a career-high eight receptions for 118 yards and three touchdowns – the final score coming on 3rd-and-4 from 33 yards out with 4:23 remaining in the game.
La. Tech got a late jolt as Phillip Livas returned the subsequent kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to cut the margin to 33-28.
“Our defense played really well and special teams had one real big mistake on the kickoff,” said Hill. “We have a lot of work to do but we're looking forward to getting home and going to work but it’s better to have a win under your belt instead of anything else. We just have to win in November.”
Fresno State improves to 6-2, 4-1 in WAC play, on the season. The ‘Dogs host Nevada on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
When Kenny Wiggins left the game with an injury, redshirt freshman Austin Wentworth picked up significant playing time at right tackle. Wiggins later returned to the game. Guard Leslie Cooper and center Joe Bernardi suffered first half injuries and were replaced in the second half by Matt Hunt and Richard Helepiko, respectively.
Junior Kevin Goessling made a 49-yard field goal in the second quarter to extend his streak to nine in a row. He later missed on a 40-yarder ending the streak. Goessling set a Bulldog record with 18 straight field goals earlier this season. He also had his school record 118 straight PATs snapped in the fourth quarter, also a school record.
Austin Raphael blocked a punt late in the third quarter, the 89th block in the Pat Hill era. This is the fifth block of the season and fourth blocked punt. This is the most blocked punts Fresno State has had in a year since 2005. The Dogs scored a touchdown after the block to take a 24-21 lead. Ben Jacobs blocked an extra point attempt late in the fourth quarter, the sixth of his career.
In the fourth quarter, junior Logan Harrell made his ninth quarterback sack to match his teammate Chris Carter's number as current leader of the Bulldog team. Harrell and Carter are among the top six players in the nation in quarterback sacks.
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