This was it for Tyeler Davison. One last walk through the inflatable tunnel. One last charge through pregame introductions. After five years, the Fresno State senior was down to his one-and-done moment at Bulldog Stadium, and he knew it.
“I had a lot of time to think about it, especially before the game, waiting for it to start,” Davison said. “I remember looking at the ‘Welcome to Bulldog Stadium’ sign one more time. I remember seeing the sunset and thinking we don’t see that very often. We usually play at night.
“It was definitely a sight to behold.”
So was Davison, who made sure the final home game of his college career had nothing short of a happily-ever-after postscript. He had a career-high three sacks, forced a fumble and made sure his exit strategy was a winning one.
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No Wyoming debacle revisited. No Nebraska disembowelment regurgitated. Not on Davison’s watch, and not on his field.
“Not today,” Davison said. “No way.”
Davison plays nose guard. If he’s learned anything, it’s that nose guards don’t make the highlights. They occupy double- and triple-teams in the middle so others don’t have to. They thrust the quarterback out of the pocket so someone else can get the sack.
“When you play nose guard, it’s not about getting the glory or the stats,” Davison said. “It’s about getting the win.”
Saturday, Davison got both, and that hasn’t happened much this season. He isn’t the only reason Fresno State (6-6) is playing in the Mountain West Conference championship game in spite of an 0-3 start — but he goes a long ways toward explaining how the Bulldogs lived to play another day.
Did you see him blow through the guard and center to drop Hawaii quarterback Ikaika Woolsey for a 7-yard loss on the first play of the second quarter? Did you like how he evicted Hawaii from the Bulldogs’ half of the field the very first play after the Warriors dared cross to Davison’s side?
How about that sack and forced fumble right before halftime, making sure Hawaii didn’t get any cute ideas about scoring? Or how Davison opening the third quarter with another sack, bringing his season total to six?
“He made some big-time plays that were clear today, which isn’t normally the case,” Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter said. “Usually you have to wait until (Sunday) when we’re watching the tape and say, ‘Man, he really kicked that guy’s tail.’ He dominated at times in the middle.”
Well, of course Davison did. If the Bulldogs lost to Hawaii, there was no next time. Their season would have ended here and now. Davison doesn’t do Decembers off. Bowl games are all he knows in three years of starting, and this year could be no different.
So he ran down the quarterback every chance he had. He took on triple-teams to set up other teammates for monster plays, like when Donavan Lewis got around the edge for a 4-yard sack.
Davison played like there was no tomorrow, because there was no other way to make sure there was one. If you didn’t see that, you spend way too much time at the concession stand.
It wasn’t until Fresno State recovered a last-second onside kick that Davison could untighten his shoulders and neck muscles and let out a primal yell. He walked off the field, still huffing and puffing, and tapped the Green V atop the tunnel’s entrance on his way up the ramp.
The sun hasn’t set on Davison just yet.