Nevada topped the 400-yard rush mark for the fourth time in 2009 as the Wolf Pack shredded Fresno State consistently with the dive play. But the rout was aided by five Bulldog turnovers and two turnover-on-downs inside Nevada territory.
Colin Kaepernick went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season on a 21-yard fourth quarter touchdown run to cap the scoring at 52-14. If the embarrassing blowout loss wasn’t enough for the Bulldogs, standout running back Ryan Mathews may miss next week’s game versus Louisiana Tech after suffering mild concussion on in the second quarter.
Four plays later, Nevada’s Vai Taua raced 65 yards to put the Wolf Pack up 24-14.
But Mathews’ absence had no effect on the outcome. “It really didn’t change the game plan a whole lot,” Bulldog quarterback Ryan Colburn said. The Bulldog run game never got going finishing with a season-low 112 yards. Mathews finished with 32 yards rushing on just eight carries.
With Fresno State trailing 17-14, Mathews was hit by Nevada Jonathon Amaya after gaining 10 yards on a screen pass. Mathews will be re-evaluated in 48 hours to determine his status for Saturday’s game versus the Bulldogs, according to Fresno State spokesperson Steve Weakland.
“Somebody goes down, somebody has to pick up the flag,” Bulldog running back Lonyae Miller, who finished with 55 yards on 10 carries, said after the game. “Just because somebody goes, we got to keep rolling.”
The run game got going a bit in the second half, but it was a little too late. As the ‘Dogs were outplayed by a more physical Nevada offensive and defensive line.
“That’s where the battle started, we had to win in the trenches,” said Miller.
”We couldn’t do it on either side of the ball.”
Nonetheless, Fresno State moved the ball well amassing 474 yards of total offense. Colburn started an amazing 4-of-4 for 137 yards and two touchdowns as the ‘Dogs led 14-7 late in first quarter.
But Nevada would reel off 45 unanswered points but the Bulldogs had to chances to stop that run, none more important than their final drive of the first half.
Down 24-14, with 2:24 remaining before halftime, Colburn drove the ‘Dogs to the Nevada 27. But on a 3rd-and-7, a failed attempt to throw the ball out of bounds ended up in the hands of Nevada’s Khalid Wooten.
“I was trying to throw it away but it seemed he went up with one hand and caught it,” Colburn said of Wooten’s interception.
“I had an intentional grounding [called] two weeks ago for throwing the ball too far over the guys’ head. It was kind of a bang-bang deal. I was trying to throw it over his head and out of bounds. [Wooten] made a good play, give credit to him.”
The ‘Dogs were clearly in Kevin Goessling’s range before the interception. FS would have had an opportunity to cut Nevada’s lead to one-score.
The Wolf Pack started the second half with 2:55 minute scoring drive capped with the first of Kaepernick’s two touchdown runs, pushing their lead to 31-14.
Then the wheel’s came off the Bulldog bus.
Seyi Ajirotutu fumbled a Colburn pass on just the Bulldog’s second play from scrimmage in the second half. Ajirotutu’s fumble was returned to the FS 28, and two plays later, Luke Lippincott’s 27-yard touchdown run put the game out of reach.
The Bulldogs had multiple opportunities to make the score respectable but turnovers and the inability to execute scoring opportunities in the red zone were too much to overcome.
“We couldn’t finish drives,” said Miller.
The Bulldogs return to Bulldog Stadium next Saturday for senior night.
Ryan Mathews streak of 100-yard rushing games ends at nine games. He also failed to score a rushing touchdown for the first time this season since week two at Wisconsin.
Lorne Bell left the game in the third quarter with a slight injury. He returned and will play next week. “It was just a stinger,” he said following the game.
Devon Wylie and Andrew Jackson are expected to return next week versus Louisiana Tech.
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