Fresno State has lost a lot of football games this season, most in the same conventional manner. The Bulldogs just got beat up.
But with a chance Saturday night to beat Colorado State, the Bulldogs’ cover teams – which had been one of their few strengths this season – gave up three touchdowns in a 34-31 loss in front of an announced crowd of 26,375 on Senior Day at Bulldog Stadium.
“We practiced all year long with great energy,” coach Tim DeRuyter said. “I thought our seniors did a great job of leading us. They didn’t care what our record was. They came out and executed. We've got a bunch of young guys that are having to play ahead of their time. That’s football, when guys get injured. When young guys get reps and eventually start figuring it out, I think a lot of that happened today.”
The Rams’ first 20 points came on special teams with Joe Hansley returning punts 75 and 61 yards for touchdowns and former Edison High standout Kevin Nutt taking the kickoff to open the second half back 96 yards for a touchdown. At that point, the Rams had 286 return yards and just 120 from scrimmage.
Fresno State, which finished 3-9 and 2-6 in conference play, went in leading the Mountain West in kickoff coverage allowing an average of 20.2 yards on 23 returns and fifth in punt coverage allowing 6.7 yards on 14 returns.
Senior running back Marteze Waller on his first carry of the game became the fifth back in school history with 3,000 career rushing yards, finishing with 112 yards on 27 plays and 3,108 career yards.
Outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine had eight tackles including one for a loss, falling just short of the Mountain West record. Ederaine finished his Fresno State career with 45.5 tackles for loss, behind former San Diego State linebacker Miles Burris with 47.
“My career here, it has been a long time,” Ederaine said. “I have no regrets, I love being a ’Dog. I loved my four years while I was here. I won two Mountain West championships and three division titles, so I could not really ask for anything more than that. I met some great people and met some life-long friends. I feel like my career here at Fresno State has been a full and happy one.”
Ederaine also got in on offense for a second-quarter play, taking a direct snap and running it up the middle for a touchdown that gave Fresno State a 17-7 lead.
“Coach (Dave) Schramm does a great job trying to get some seniors involved that aren't normally on offense,” DeRuyter said of his offensive coordinator, who will be replaced on next year’s staff. “He designed a great play, Ejiro just happened to be the recipient of it. He knew he had one shot and he got in the end zone. You want the last game for your seniors to be memorable.”