The takeway – Fresno State, coming off a 3-9 season, hung with Nebraska for a half before losing 43-10 and should be improved if the Bulldogs can keep redshirt freshman Chason Virgil healthy for new offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau.
Virgil, who missed the last nine games in 2015 with a broken clavicle, completed his first five passes and 11 of his first 14. The Bulldogs got a scare when he banged up his left shoulder late in the first half after being driven out of bounds by linebacker Luke Gifford, who was ejected for targeting.
Virgil returned to start the third quarter but didn’t get much done the rest of the night. He finished 17 of 32 for 133 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Fresno State capitalized on Robert Stanley’s blocked punt and a couple Nebraska penalties, and that allowed the Bulldogs to keep it close until the third quarter. First-year defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward can take consolation in that it’s unlikely his unit will go against another opponent that runs the ball as well as Nebraska.
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Head coach Tim DeRuyter’s record in season-openers at Fresno State fell to 3-2.
Thinking of you – Following its opening possession, Nebraska honored Sam Fultz, the All-Big Ten punter who was killed in a car accident while attending a punting camp in July.
On fourth down, Cornhuskers coach Mike Riley had 10 players line up without a punter and allowed the play clock to reach zero for a delay-of-game penalty as both Nebraska and Fresno State players pointed skyward. The Bulldogs declined the penalty.
Fresno State and Nebraska players both wore Foltz’s No. 27 on the back of their helmets for the game and the Cornhuskers also had Foltz’s No. 27 jersey draped over the end of their bench.
In a pre-game ceremony on the field, Nebraska presented kicker Drew Brown, who was close friends with Foltz, with the presentation of the first Sam Foltz Memorial Scholarship. Foltz’s parents and many family members joined the Brown family on the field for the presentation.
Cough, cough – The Bulldogs averted a potential horrible start to the second half when Delvon Hardaway fumbled the kickoff and Nebraska recovered at the Fresno State 19-yard line.
Upon review, however, Hardaway was ruled down and the Bulldogs kept possession. They promptly went three-and-out.
Scott suspended – Fresno State suffered a blow to its receiving corps before the game began, with senior Da’Mari Scott suspended for the opener.
“Due to NCAA eligibility issues, Fresno State senior wide receiver Da’Mari Scott will not compete in Saturday’s contest at Nebraska,” the athletic department said in a statement issued about 30 minutes before kickoff. “This will be Fresno State’s only comment on the matter.”
Scott last season played in 11 of 12 games with nine starts and ranked second on the team with 364 receiving yards on 24 catches.
Up next for Fresno State – The Bulldogs host Sacramento State at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bulldog Stadium. It’s the season opener for the Hornets. Under Tim DeRuyter, the Bulldogs have beaten FCS opponents by an average of 26 points.
Whole lotta Huskers – Attendance at Memorial Stadium was announced as 90,013 – Nebraska’s 348th consecutive sellout dating to Nov. 2, 1962.
Until next time – Saturday’s game was the last for the Bulldogs in a three-game contract with Nebraska. The Cornhuskers won the first two games also, 42-29 in 2011 in Lincoln and 55-19 in 2014 at Bulldog Stadium.
Bulldogs-Cornhuskers: By the numbers
- 1: Tackles for loss by Fresno State (last time with zero was loss to San Jose State in 2011)
- 10: Rushing plays of 10 or more yards by the Cornhuskers
- 15: Rushing plays of 2 yards or less by the Bulldogs
- 112: Receiving yards for senior Aaron Peck
- 102: Most receiving yards in a game for a Bulldog last season (Jamire Jordan vs. Utah)
- 5.7: Yards per pass play for Fresno State; 'Dogs were last in MW last year at 5.3
- 45: Total yards for Fresno State in third quarter; Bulldogs were down 14-10 at half
- 0: Takeaways for Fresno State defense
- 1.2: Rushing yards for Bulldogs on first-down plays, 18 yards in 15 plays
- 5: Three-and-outs for Fresno State in 12 possessions
- 7.1: Yards per play by Nebraska in the second half
Nebraska 43, Fresno State 10
NEB — Ozigbo 1 run, (Brown kick), 00:56.
NEB — Ozigbo 6 run, (Brown kick), 12:39.
FRE — Peck 7 yd pass from Virgil, (Kroening kick), 05:44.
FRE — FG Kroening 26, 00:02.
NEB — Armstrong 9 run, (Brown kick), 7:07.
NEB — Moore 57 yd pass from Armstrong, (Brown kick), 15:00.
NEB — Armstrong 4 run, (Darlington run), 09:57.
NEB — Bryant 3 run, (Lindsay kick), 04:20.
Time of Possession
RUSHING — Fresno State, James 12-20, Kline 1-11, Green 1-3, Jordan 1-1, O’Neal 4-0, Johnson 1-(minus 1), Virgil 6-(minus 3). Nebraska, Ozigbo 17-103, Newby 11-56, Armstrong 11-42, Bryant 5-36, Moore 2-34, Wilbon 1-16, Westerkamp 1-9, Fyfe 1-5, (Team) 1-(minus 2), Pierson-El 1-(minus 7).
PASSING — Fresno State, Kline 7-11-1-110, Virgil 17-32-1-133. Nebraska, Armstrong 5-10-0-108, Fyfe 1-3-0-6.
RECEIVING — Fresno State, Peck 9-112, Johnson 8-61, Jordan 5-52, Olsen 2-18. Nebraska, Moore 3-92, Morgan 1-11, Westerkamp 1-6, Ozigbo 1-5.