Fresno State has four conference games to go and there is no sense jumping too far ahead. That’s not part of the deal with coach Jeff Tedford anyway.
But the Bulldogs, 1-11 just one year ago, took solid hold on a berth in the Mountain West Conference championship game Saturday by throttling two-time defending champ San Diego State 27-3 at SDCCU Stadium.
The victory gave the Bulldogs a 4-0 record in conference play and a two-game lead over the Aztecs in the West Division, plus a head-to-head tiebreaker, and the division is not full of emerging challengers.
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Nevada, Hawaii and UNLV are all 1-3 in the conference; San Jose State is 0-4.
And the Aztecs, they were just soundly beaten on their home field, the Bulldogs taking their recipe to two titles and just doing it better.
All of it.
“We made a statement tonight,” said running back Josh Hokit, who had touchdown runs of 1, 26 and 4 yards.
“Looking back at last year, 1 -11, and now we’re No. 1 in the Mountain West, just beat down a San Diego State team that’s very good. It’s going to hit me later tonight. We’re going to celebrate. It’s going to be good.”
The Bulldogs (5-2 overall) took a 17-3 lead into halftime, playing to plan.
San Diego State rushed for 100 yards, but 66 came on two plays. The Aztecs had a 45-yard run by Juwan Washington and a 21-yarder by Rashaad Penny.
On the other 19 running plays in the half, the Aztecs gained 34 yards, or 1.8 per play.
Fresno State allowed only 155 yards in the half, and has not allowed 200 yards in a half since the first two quarters in a loss at Washington. That was Sept. 16.
The Bulldogs’ offense also averaged 7.7 yards per play against a team that came in leading the Mountain West in total defense.
Marcus McMaryion hit two big plays to set up scores, a 48-yard pass to Jamire Jordan that led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Hokit and a 30-yard strike to Da’Mari Scott ahead of a 26-yard TD run by Hokit.
Jimmy Camacho added a 38-yard field goal with 2:05 to go before halftime, then a 43-yarder with 6:03 remaining in the third quarter.
The second half was no different. “This one outing, it was nice to see,” Tedford said. “To go on the road and beat a quality team like that, that’s not easy to do. Really proud of our guys and our staff.”
Fresno State pounded out 199 yards in the ground at 5.2 yards per play. Freshman Jordan Mims racked up 112 yards in 21 plays while Hokit became the first Fresno State running back with three rushing touchdowns in a game since Ryan Mathews in a 53-52 win at Illinois in 2009.
The Bulldogs’ line also did not allow a tackle for loss.
“Forget about what I did,” Hokit said. “The offenive line, I’m going to have to buy them a meal or something. They opened the holes. I just carried the ball. They made my job easy tonight.”
The defense was even better in the second half. The Aztecs mustered just 100 yards and 255 for the game, a season low.
Fresno State had nine tackles for loss, three by defensive end Robert Stanley. Linebackers Jeffrey Allison and George Helmuth led with 10 and nine tackles, respectively, both also each getting one for a loss.
McMaryion in the third quarter hit KeeSean Johnson with a 33-yard pass to set up Hokit for his third touchdown run and that was just about the end for San Diego State (6-2, 2-2). Not the Bulldogs, though.
“We haven’t arrived at all yet,” center Aaron Mitchell said. “I don;t think we’ve even played our best game.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
UNLV AT FRESNO STATE
- Saturday: 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium (41,031)
- Records: Bulldogs 5-2, 4-0 Mountain West; Rebels 2-5, 1-3
- TV/radio: AT&T, ROOT (AT&T UVerse 757, 1757; DirecTV 684)//KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Of note: The Rebels lost at home to Utah State on Saturday, 52-28, after starting quarterback Armani Rogers was knocked out of the game with a head injury. UNLV has now allowed an average of 42.3 points over its past three games. … The Aggies rolled up 578 yards of total offense, 323 passing and 255 rushing. They converted 8 of 14 third downs, taking advantage of a soft spot in the UNLV defense. … The Rebels entered having allowed opponents to convert on 44.2 percent of their third downs, ranking 10th in the Mountain West. … UNLV does have one of the top running backs in the conference in Lexington Thomas, who racked up 161 yards and two touchdowns against Utah State and is averaging 125.3 yards per game with 12 rushing touchdowns.
Fresno State 27, San Diego State 3
San Diego State
FRE — Hokit 1 run (Camacho kick), :15
SDSU — FG Baron 37, 11:53
FRE — Hokit 26 run (Camacho kick), 9:32
FRE — FG Camacho 38, 2:05
FRE — FG Camacho 43, 6:03
FRE — Hokit 4 run (Camacho kick), 1:54
SAN DIEGO STATE
Time of Possession
RUSHING — Fresno State, Mims 21-112, Hokit 14-77, O’Neal 2-11, (Team) 1-(minus 1). San Diego State, Penny 15-69, Washington 7-68, Agnew 4-39, Jasmin 1-(minus 1), Chapman 12-(minus 10).
PASSING — Fresno State, McMaryion 10-16-0-176. San Diego State, Chapman 10-20-0-77, Agnew 1-3-0-13.
RECEIVING — Fresno State, K.Johnson 4-47, Scott 3-57, Jordan 2-56, O’Neal 1-16. San Diego State, Holder 4-35, T.Wilson 3-29, Bawden 2-10, Penny 1-9, Houston 1-7.
MISSED FIELD GOALS — None.