Fresno State opened the Jeff Tedford era with a resounding victory Saturday night.
The Bulldogs, who hired their former quarterback and assistant coach to rebuild the program amid a 1-11 season a year ago, beat Incarnate Word 66-0 and gave their fans more to cheer about than just a halftime ceremony in which former quarterback Derek Carr had his No. 4 retired.
Fresno State churned out 613 yards of offense while allowing just 148 against the overmatched Cardinals, a championship subdivision opponent picked to finish last in the Southland Conference.
“I thought the team went in to the game tonight with the focus they needed,” said Tedford, a former Bulldogs quarterback and assistant best known for an 11-year run as the coach at Cal. “We needed to stay focused on this game and on ourselves, and we did that.
“It was great for me to return to Bulldog Stadium and run down the ramp again, but tonight was about watching the players run down the ramp and the energy they had tonight.”
The 66 points were the most the Bulldogs have scored since a 69-28 victory over New Mexico in 2013 when Carr threw seven touchdown passes. Their last shutout was a 51-0 win over UC Davis in 2009.
10 conversions for Fresno State on 16 third-down chances. Incarnate Word was 3 for 16.
Fresno State drew 39,447 to Bulldog Stadium, its largest crowd since a sellout of 41,031 for the 2014 opener against Nebraska.
“You definitely notice it as a player,” quarterback Chason Virgil said, “we were able to see in warm-ups all the people that were standing around waiting for us to walk down the ramp and the stadium kind of fills as the warm-ups go on, coming out and to walk out you hear the fans screaming and it was definitely loud and it was good to see the stadium packed.”
Virgil, though not particularly sharp (16 of 29, 55.2 percent), passed for 246 yards and had seven pass plays of 20 or more yards.
The Bulldogs as a team had three more passes of 20-plus, with running back Josh Hokit throwing a 65-yard TD to tight end Jared Rice and backup quarterback Marcus McMaryion hitting Jamire Jordan and Justin Allen with scoring strikes of 24 and 45 yards.
Fresno State had only 31 of those “explosive” plays last season.
-30 rushing yards for Incarnate Word on 27 attempts. Fresno State ran for 199 on 40 carries.
The Bulldogs, who next week play at No. 1 Alabama (a 24-7 winner Saturday over No. 3 Florida State), got on the scoreboard in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Hokit. After a 30-yard field goal by Jimmy Camacho, the sophomore running back hit Rice on a halfback option pass and the Bulldogs continued to pile up the points.
26 total first downs for Fresno State. Incarnate Word had 8.
Fresno State added 17 in the second quarter on a 47-yard field goal by Camacho, a 4-yard run by Hokit and a 2-yard pass from Virgil to tight end Kyle Riddering and went into the locker room at halftime up 34-0.
McMaryion, the former Dinuba High star, finished 6 of 7 for 103 yards in his Bulldogs debut after joining Fresno State as a graduate transfer in the fall.
7penalties for Incarnate Word, setting the Cardinals back 50 yards. Fresno State committed three for 15 yards.
KeeSean Johnson, the Bulldogs’ leading receiver and on the watch list for the 2017 Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top pass catcher, had seven receptions for 120 yards. Ten players had at least one catch.
Check back later Saturday and on Sunday at www.fresnobee.com/bulldogs for more on the game from The Bee’s Marek Warszawski and Robert Kuwada.
Fresno State 66, Incarnate Word 0
FRE — Hokit 1 run (Camacho kick), 6:51.
FRE — FG Camacho 30, 3:56.
FRE — Rice 65 pass from Hokit (Camacho kick), 1:51.
FRE — FG Camacho 47, 11:09.
FRE — Hokit 4 run (Camacho kick), 4:53.
FRE — Riddering 2 pass from Virgil (Camacho kick), :15.
FRE — Safety, 13:11.
FRE — Rivers 30 run (Camacho kick), 11:57.
FRE — Ndoh, safety, 10:22.
FRE — Jordan 24 pass McMaryion (Camacho kick), 7:48.
FRE — Mims 13 run (Camacho kick), 5:40.
FRE — Allen 45 pass from McMaryion (Camacho kick), :33.
A — 39,447.
Time of Possession
RUSHING — Incarnate Word, Philio 7-11, Hite 15-0, (Team) 2-(minus-25), Laird 3-(minus-16). Fresno State, Rivers 9-60, Mims 8-38, O’Neal 5-37, Perry 8-31, Hokit 4-13, S.Johnson 5-13, McMaryion 1-7.
PASSING — Incarnate Word, Laird 9-20-1-90, Brophy 6-11-0-65. Fresno State, Virgil 16-29-0-246, McMaryion 6-7-0-103, Hokit 1-1-0-65.
RECEIVING — Incarnate Word, Hite 4-18, Gilbert 3-39, Brooks 2-45, Parra 2-29, McCollum 2-21, C.Johnson 1-2, Higgins 1-1. Fresno State, K.Johnson 7-120, Rivers 3-22, Jordan 2-64, Allen 2-51, Scott 2-32, S.Johnson 2-23, Grim 2-14, Ja.Rice 1-65, Mims 1-21, Riddering 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — Incarnate Word, Perez 30.