Ryan Colburn hit tight end Kulitapa Taumoepeau for eight yards on a 4th-and-2 on Fresno State’s opening drive of the second half. The conversion set up Colburn’s 28-yard touchdown strike to Devon Wylie on the next play with 10:03 remaining in the third quarter.
It was the first of two Colburn second half touchdown passes as the Bulldogs pulled away from a 14-14 tie at the half to defeat the two-time defending Big East champions Cincinnati. Colburn finished 18-of-24 for 247 yards with four touchdowns.
Despite Colburn’s success, the star of the game was the Bulldog defense.
“Our defense just played outstanding,” said head coach Pat Hill. “We did a great job at disguising coverages. I think we had their quarterback confused tonight. I think he’s an outstanding player, I think they got very good skill guys. Defensively, we played such a way that I thought we confused him. He just didn’t look like he was able to set his feet and throw it with any kind of timing.”
Fresno State’ defense held the Bearcats’ potent offense to just 15 net yards rushing and 234 total yards. Led by a relentless pass rush, the Bulldogs’ defense put on an epic performance. Senior defensive end Chris Carter had three sacks, caused a fumble, but importantly, he drew double teams all night long leaving the interior lineman to wreck havoc in the backfield.
Junior defensive tackle Logan Harrell benefited most recording 4.5 tackles for losses, including a career-high four sacks.
“Once we started getting pressure off their offensive line, it started taking confidence out of the quarterback in his o-line, and they just started falling apart,” said Harrell.
“The defense as a whole we all did really good tonight, the d-line we’ve been working hard. [The coaches] have given us the tools to play how we are playing and I think we are going to continue all season.”
Harrell’s first sack kicked started the dormant Bulldog team just minutes before halftime.
Facing a 3rd-and-6 from their 30, Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros was sacked by Harrell for a 20-yard loss. The subsequent punt gave FS the ball at the UC 49. Four plays later, Colburn found Robbie Rouse wide open on a wheel route for a 20-yard touchdown to cut the Bearcats lead to 14-7 after Kevin Goessling’s PAT.
Colburn would hit Jamel Hamler from 16 yards out with 16 seconds remaining in the half to tie the game at 14.
Rashad Evans’ 59-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the fourth quarter capped the Bulldogs' 28 unanswered points.
Cincinnati opened the scoring with 23-yard Collaros to D.J. Woods touchdown pass. Collaros finished 24-of-41 for 219 yards and the one touchdown. Woods led UC with six receptions for 72 yards.
The Bulldogs next travel to Utah State for September 18 WAC game at 5 p.m. PT.
Cincinnati had a 195-8 advantage in total offense with 11:44 remaining in the game after taking a 14-0 lead. The Bulldogs would outscore UC 28-0 the remainder of the game. But more staggering is the ‘Dogs outgained UC, 288-39 in the final 41 minutes of the contest.
Fresno State had just 11 sacks in 2009. The Bulldogs are above 75% of their total just one game into 2010.
Fresno State was held without a first down in the first quarter for the first time since September 18, 2009 versus Boise State.
Coach Hill said he was disappointed with the run game in the post game press conference. He says they must get back to the basics. He also noted Rouse only practiced the last three days after missing over a week of practice.
Colburn was a perfect 9-of-9 for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the second half.
Jalen Saunders made his first career catch on the Bulldog’s first scoring drive. The 18-yard reception was Colburn’s first completion over six yards on the evening.
Time of possession was nearly identical with UC holding the ball for 30:50 and FS for 29:10.
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