Robbie Rouse made it clear early that Saturday would be a special night. He got the momentum started by taking a screen pass for 25 yards, carrying defenders onto the longest reception of his career. He would cap the drive by taking a pitch that appeared to be well defended, but cut back to the opposite side of the field, leaving behind 10 Colorado Buffaloes as he dove over the top of an 11th for the game's opening touchdown en route to a 69-14 win for Fresno State.
Rouse entered the game with just three career touchdown receptions, but he would be the first target that quarterback Derek Carr would look for on the next two drives. From nine and 12 yards out, Carr connected on back-to-back touchdown passes to Rouse on identical routes.
"Oh yeah, [Rouse] has the best routes," Carr said. "He can run the best routes I've ever seen. Once we got it matched up on how we wanted, it was right after that. I didn't even look anywhere else."
What had been already been a great game for most players wasn't enough for Rouse however. He had his eyes on the school rushing record and was still 28 yards away.
"He's got great feet, great vision, more determination than anyone I have ever been around," described head coach Tim DeRuyter. "You combine that with natural talent. I am just really, really happy that he's playing for the Bulldogs, and sad I only get him for one [year]."
Rouse fittingly showed all those traits on his touchdown run that made him Fresno State's all-time career leader in rushing yards.
He used his great vision to see his designed hole collapsing and see an opening elsewhere. He used his great footwork to cutback behind the line and made his move up field. And he showed he had more determination than anyone lined up across from him, outrunning defenders for a Fresno State record-tying 94-yard touchdown run.
"When I crossed the goal line I just looked back and looked at my teammates and everybody just came running to me, it was a great feeling," said Rouse.
This moment was something that Rouse had imagined as he closed in on Ron Rivers' career record of 3,473 yards set in 1993. It couldn't have developed any better for the senior on Saturday.
"It was better than I imagined. The way we came out and played, I want to thank my linemen. It's hard for me to really tell how great of a blocker they are, I know they are great because they are making hard cuts and it's easier for me to see my receivers. Josh Harper made a great cut and Davante Adams; he ran stride for stride with me and made a great block down field. I just want to thank my team, offense to defense; I couldn't have done it without them."
On top of setting the record on a fantastic play was the fact the Rouse was able to do it inside of Bulldog Stadium. As he stepped onto Jim Sweeney Field for his 18th game in Bulldog Stadium, he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to write history in front of his family and fans.
"Definitely, for it to happen at home with the great fans and my family was here. It was great to have it home," said Rouse.
"I was celebrating with my team and everything and I love the fans. But, I love my teammates. We grind for seven months. People don't understand our hard work."
Rouse and his teammates had a celebration that warranted a 15-yard penalty that practically went unnoticed in the moment. He then found his mother on the sideline and gave her a big hug as an announced crowd of 27,513 chanted "Robbie" over and over.
As Robbie Rouse addressed the media, he kept his game ball within reach. There was no doubt about what he was going to do with it.
"It's going to my mom's house, where all of the other accomplishments are. It means a lot. As of now, it's my greatest accomplishment."
What has been the key to Robbie Rouse's Fresno State career rushing record may not be his great vision or great footwork. Rouse is certainly not the biggest running back to play for Fresno State, and not quite the fastest, but he now stands alone as the school's leading career rusher.
His dedication to the team and the heart he plays with has earned him 674 carries in his Fresno State career, more than any other Bulldog in school history. Fresno State Head Coach Tim DeRuyter praised Rouse for his hard work.
"He's not the biggest guy, the fastest guy, but he's probably got the biggest heart of any guy I have ever seen playing that position," DeRuyter said.
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