Battling the injury bug since the first game of the season, the Fresno State Bulldogs were only a shadow of their former selves. After flirting with bursting the BCS bubble last season, the Bulldogs had lost nearly all of their stars to graduation or injury and were in search of someone to help them regain their glory. On a night when they needed it most, they found that someone in a group; their special teams unit.
After falling behind early 7-0, the Bulldogs scored on their first possession off the foot of Asen Asparuhov to close the gap to 7-3. Holding the Rams on their next possession, Adam Jennings returned the ensuing punt 59 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bulldogs the lead for good.
But that wasn't all!
Late in the second quarter, with the Rams pushed back near their own goal line, a bad snap over the head of Colorado State punter Joey Huber forced him to bat the ball through the end zone for a safety.
The two points came in a flurry of 12 that Fresno State scored in the final minute of the first half to take a 15 point, 29-14 lead into the locker room.
To add insult to injury!
With Colorado State mounting a comeback against the suddenly stagnant offense of Fresno State, Bulldog center Rodney Michael penetrated the line and blocked a 31-yard field goal attempt by Ram kicker Jeff Babcock.
But all the stars weren't on special teams.
After finally being named starter, redshirt freshman quarterback Paul Pinegar showed a national television audience watching on ESPN, what they could expect from him in the future. Pinegar connected on 20 of his 28 pass attempts for 184 yards, 1 touchdown and no interceptions.
Junior running back Rodney Davis, who had started the season expecting to backup Derrick Ward (lost to academics), carried the ball 18 times for 115 yards (6.4 yds/carry). After Davis suffered an injury to his shoulder, seldom used redshirt freshman Bryson Sumlin came off the bench and carried the ball 10 times and gained 35 yards.
Also stepping into his own and making himself noticed is 6'-3", redshirt freshman, Jermaine Jamison. Jamison caught 3 passes for 43 yards but all three receptions were key in the Bulldogs first half effort.
What about the second half effort?
After taking the halftime lead 29-14, a scene all too familiar began to unfold in front of the 38,336 Bulldog fans in attendance, a dwindling lead.
As with other seasons, the Bulldogs always seem far too content to sit on a large lead and nearly let another win slip from their grasps. It's the same thing that cost them a shot at a BCS berth a year ago (losses to Boise St and Hawai'i after holding 21-point leads). It's the same thing that happened earlier this year in Wisconsin and it almost cost them their fourth loss of the season to ranked opponents tonight. But fate finally circumvented the on-field action as well as the conservative play calling and after scoring only 3 points in the second half, a batted ball in the end zone on a Colorado State 2-point conversion attempt and an on-side kick cover by tight end Duncan Reid sealed the victory for the Bulldogs.
"We should have kept up what we were doing in the first half," Pinegar said. "I feel like we really should have put it to those guys. We were up big, and we should have won big."
Finally someone from within isn't afraid to speak out!
Colorado State quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt did what he does best; run. On nine attempts, Van Pelt rushed for 125 yards including a 79-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter. Van Pelt also threw for 215 yards on 10-21 passing as the Rams abused the Bulldog defense with numerous big plays.
Ram running back Cecil Sapp opened up for 94 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown.
Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick had been attempting to gain his 100th career win before falling victim to the mystique of Bulldog Stadium where the Bulldogs have won 22 of their last 24 games.