In his final season at Bulldog Stadium, Derek Carr proved quite the magician making leads by Rutgers and Boise State. disappear in Fresno State come-from-behind victories.
It appears he is at it again – this time, making fans reappear.
Fresno State athletic department officials are expecting a crowd in excess of 38,000 for the Sept. 2 opener against Incarnate Word and are hoping to get to a sellout at 41,031. Carr will have his No. 4 retired during a halftime ceremony and it’s the debut of coach Jeff Tedford, himself a former Bulldogs star quarterback.
I think people are looking for that historic night, that special night. We’re going to be able to provide them with a very special evening where they get to see their beloved son in the stadium one more time.
Paul Ladwig, Fresno State senior associate athletics director for external relations
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“It would be great for the Carr family, and then also it will be great for these guys playing,” Tedford said. “I mean, they’ll be fired up to have that type of crowd in the stadium.”
If Fresno State gets to 38,000, it would mark the largest crowd at Bulldog Stadium since the 2014 season-opener when 41,031 watched the Nebraska game.
That was the first game after Carr moved on to the Oakland Raiders and there hasn’t been a home sellout since. Over the past two seasons, Fresno State has played in front of fewer than 30,000 fans in eight of its 12 home games including five of six last season.
Paul Ladwig, Fresno State’s senior associate athletics director for external relations, said he’s expecting two final pushes: “It was the first day of classes on Tuesday, so we know the student tickets are going to be sold within the next week or so. And then if you look at a normal game day walkup and if the weather is good and all those things, it’s very possible” to reach a sellout.
By comparison, the first home game for coach Pat Hill in 1997 drew 33,114 for Portland State and the first home game for coach Tim DeRuyter in 2012 drew 27,663 for Weber State.
Fresno State last season averaged only 25,493 for six home dates at Bulldog Stadium, down from 29,036 in 2015, 34,876 in ’14 and 36,917 in ’13.
But a halftime ceremony in which Carr will have his jersey retired is proving to be a prime draw.
Carr will be joined on the field by at least three of the first six Fresno State players to have jerseys retired: No. 8 David Carr, Derek’s older brother; No. 9 Kevin Sweeney; and No. 21 Dale Messer.
All fans in attendance will receive a commemorative T-shirt courtesy of Valley Children’s Hospital.
Fans quickly snapped up a special ticket promotion in which Fresno State offered four tickets in section 4 for just $44. “It was gone in a heartbeat,” Ladwig said. And tickets for the game have continued to go at a solid clip.
“The season ticket numbers are good,” Ladwig said. “Obviously, Jeff Tedford and his first home football game is a draw. And then being able to bring back arguably the Valley’s most famous football player and what that means, I think people are looking for that historic night, that special night. We’re going to be able to provide them with a very special evening where they get to see their beloved son in the stadium one more time. We all know what Derek Carr means to the Valley.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Fresno State vs. Incarnate Word, 7 p.m. Sept. 2 at Bulldog Stadium
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