Fresno State found a way to add to its program-record losing streak, less than 2 minutes away from ending it.
Kody Kroening, who had made a nation-leading 15 consecutive field goals including a pair in this one, saw his 43-yard attempt at the game-winner deflected at the line of scrimmage as time expired and Hawaii held on for a 14-13 victory Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.
Helped by a roughing-the-passer call that turned what would have been fourth down into a first, Hawaii scored on Steven Lakalaka’s 2-yard run with 59 seconds remaining. The PAT put the Rainwbow Warriors ahead.
It happened so fast … I don't really know, to be honest. I don’t want to say and speak out of turn until we look at it.
Fresno State interim coach Eric Kiesau on Hawaii’s block of the Bulldogs’ attempted winning field goal
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The Bulldogs until the late drive appeared set to get the win that would have snapped their eight-game skid.
They scored their lone touchdown on a tackle-eligible pass by first-time starter Zach Kline, Kroening kicked field goals of 47 and 27 yards and Fresno State led 13-7 with 3:41 to go.
Hawaii’s Marcus Kemp dropped a potential go-ahead touchdown pass in the end zone on third down with 1:22 to play, but the Bulldogs were whistled for the roughing call. Two plays later, Lakalaka scored.
Earlier in the drive, the Rainbow Warriors escaped a third-and-25 hole at their 26.
How deeply frustrating was this latest loss?
“Extraordinarily,” said Kline, who on the final drive completed four passes and also ran for a 5-yard gain, with three of those plays going for first downs. “It hurts, man. It hurts to not bring home a ‘W.’ ”
Fresno State (1-10, 0-7 Mountain West) has lost four of five home games this season and also the past three games under interim coach/offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau, who took over following the firing of Tim DeRuyter. The Bulldogs will close their third straight losing season when they host San Jose State on Nov. 26.
Ex-Cal coach Jeff Tedford already has been named to take over in 2017.
“This one is probably one of the tougher ones, obviously the way it was at the end,” Kiesau said. “It just burns because these kids are working really hard. You'd just like the work to pay off for them on Saturday afternoon one time.”
Kline’s 13-yard completion to Aaron Peck launched the Bulldogs’ lone scoring drive of the first half. The 14-play, 76-yard march was capped by Kline’s 1-yard pass to offensive tackle Christian Cronk with 10 seconds to go in the second quarter. Kroening’s PAT tied it 7-7.
Kroening kicked a 47-yard field goal to make it it 10-7 with 3:26 left in the third. A 27-yarder by the Lou Groza Award semifinalist pushed the lead to six with 3:41 to go in the game.
Hawaii (5-7, 4-4) delivered the game’s longest play through the air in the first half.
After the teams exchanged five punts apiece, Rainbow Warriors quarterback Dru Brown passed 53 yards to Makoa Camanse-Stevens to the Fresno State 14, and three plays later Lakalaka plunged 1 yard for his 11th touchdown of the season as Hawaii took a 7-0 lead with 5:43 to go in the second quarter.
Kline, a senior transfer from Cal, received his first shot at a start after completing 19 of 39 passes for 270 yards and two interceptions in five games as the backup to redshirt freshman Chason Virgil.
At at the end of the day, if you put it all out on the field, that's what you have to hang your hat on and we did. It hurts, man.
Bulldogs quarterback Zach Kline on Fresno State’s ninth straight defeat
Virgil went to the bench having completed 166 of 322 passes for 2,021 yards with 13 TDs and 10 interceptions for a rating of 111.39 – last among nine qualifying quarterbacks in the conference.
Hawaii entered eighth and Fresno State 12th and last in the Mountain West in total offense. The rankings were reversed on defense.
Josh Hokit, the ex-Clovis High star, filled it at running back as expected and gained 5 yards on his first carry. It came on first-and-10 from the Bulldogs 32 to open their second possession of the game. Hokit, who also will wrestle next season for the Bulldogs, has played both outside linebacker positions, at inside linebacker and as a fullback in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Hokit finished with 18 carries for 97 yards as the Bulldogs piled up a 214-49 edge on the ground. Fresno State had allowed 200-plus rushing yards in eight straight games.
“You saw guys step in there that haven't played positions they've played all year like Josh Hokit, a freshman, just coming in and running like Toby Gerhardt out there,” Kline said. “The guy was running with a purpose.
“When you see a guy that young, with that much heart and that much fight in him, it makes you think that this program is in good hands.”
Kline hit 13 of 23 passes for 108 yards. The Bulldogs totaled 322 yards, just below their average of 338.4 that ranked last out of 12 in the Mountain West.
“All this does is put fuel in the fire for next week,” Kline said, “my last college game.”
Kroening’s 15 field goals are the most by a Bulldogs since Kevin Goessling had 21 in 2010.
FRESNO STATE VS. SAN JOSE STATE
- Nov. 26: 12:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium
- Records: Bulldogs 1-10, 0-7 Mountain West; Spartans 3-7, 2-4 (pending Saturday night game vs. Air Force)
- TV/radio: CBS Sports Network/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
Fresno State-Hawaii by the numbers
5: Games in a row the Bulldogs have gone 3-and-out on their first drive.
4: Games in a row Hawaii defense had allowed a touchdown on opening drive.
73: Combined yards in the first quarter by Hawaii (38) and the Bulldogs (35).
7: Interception by Tyquwan Glass was first in seven games for Fresno State.
8: Games in a row Fresno State had allowed 200-plus rushing yards; Hawaii had 49.
15: Consecutive FGs made by Kody Kroening before game-winning attempt was blocked.
1: Third-down conversions by Hawaii. Rainbow Warriors were of 1 of 11.
0: Explosive plays of 20 or more yards by Fresno State, a season low.
10: Tackles by free safety Stratton Brown, giving him 100 this season.
11: First down for Hawaii; fewest allowed by Bulldogs vs. FBS team since Boise State in MW title game in 2014.