A sold out Bulldog Stadium was rocking on Saturday night, but the Nevada Wolf Pack were able to score on the opening drive of the game. Clovis West grad Kendall Brock broke a 43 yard touchdown run to give Nevada an early 7-0 lead.
That lead held up for just over a minute, and the Wolf Pack were never able to get it back. Fresno State answered the score with a trick play as Carr lateraled to Isaiah Burse, who lateraled back to Carr, who completed a 57 yard pass to a wide open Josh Harper. It would be the first of 17 receptions for Harper. Davante Adams capped off the opening drive; however, with a five yard touchdown reception.
Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo tested the Bulldogs’ secondary early. For the first time in 34 games, L.J. Jones was not in Fresno State’s starting lineup with redshirt freshman Jamal Ellis starting in his place. Ellis broke up two consecutive passes, setting the tone for Fresno State’s defense early on. Fajardo completed just 3 of 7 pass attempts in the first half for 23 yards and 1 interception as the Bulldogs built a 24-7 lead going into halftime.
“When you have a freshman out there, first time starting, there’s a lot of nerves that go on,” Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said. “For him to make those plays early was huge and hopefully he’ll build on that. That’ll give him confidence that he can play.”
The Bulldogs outplayed Nevada for most of Saturday’s game, but struggled to distance themselves until the game’s final minutes. The Bulldogs failed to convert three fourth-down conversion attempts in Nevada territory. Fresno State left points on the board, allowing Nevada to cut the lead to eight points, twice, in the second half.
“I felt we were moving the ball great, but we stopped ourselves,” Carr said. “When we turn the film on we’re going to be sick. We left so many points out there.”
“I’m so mad that we didn’t finish a lot of those drives. I think we were one of four on fourth down, that’s unacceptable.”
The Bulldogs’ most critical fourth down, however, was left to kicker Colin McGuire. With 5:32 remaining, the freshman made a 40 yard field goal attempt to push the lead to 11 points and effectively putting the game out of reach.
“We didn't start out good the second half and we have to get that fixed and we will, but we finished strong and is something we always want to do,” DeRuyter said. “I am particularly happy with how we ran the ball at the end of the game. Again, we just find ways to get it done on defense, but we gotta keep getting better.”
The Bulldogs ran for 160 yards led by 115 from Josh Quezada, but it was the passing game that stole the show. Carr completed 39 of 55 passes for 487 yards and 3 touchdowns with Harper catching a Fresno State all-time high 17 passes, for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns. Carr’s big day put him past Kevin Sweeney as Fresno State’s all-time passing leader.