Marek Warszawski

Warszawski’s postgame thoughts: Bulldogs come unraveled in blowout loss to Air Force

Fresno State running back Marteze Waller runs for a 64-touchdown, racing past Air Force linebackers Claude Alexander III, back left, and D.J. Dunn Jr. in the first half of Saturday’s game. The Bulldogs broke on top 14-0, but Air Force stormed back to take a 21-14 lead at halftime.
Fresno State running back Marteze Waller runs for a 64-touchdown, racing past Air Force linebackers Claude Alexander III, back left, and D.J. Dunn Jr. in the first half of Saturday’s game. The Bulldogs broke on top 14-0, but Air Force stormed back to take a 21-14 lead at halftime. ASSOCIATED PRESS

So much for momentum.

The good feelings and positive vibes Fresno State established in its last game against UNLV lasted all of one quarter Saturday afternoon.

Then the old Bulldogs returned.

You know, the ones that can barely muster a first down, let alone sustain a drive. The ones that get worn down and disintegrate against a quality opponent.

After spotting Fresno State two early touchdowns, Air Force roared back with 42 unanswered points and soared to a 42-14 victory over the hapless Bulldogs before an announced 20,213.

It is hard to make sense of how well Fresno State started this game and how poorly it finished.

After scoring first-quarter touchdowns on runs of 64 and 60 yards, the Bulldogs went eight consecutive drives without a first down.

Eight!

Not only did those eight drives fail to produce a first down, Fresno State had zero or negative yards on six of them.

Quarterback Kilton Anderson, after passing for 193 yards and rushing for 78 a week ago against UNLV, was completely stymied.

Air Force shut down Anderson on the read option, then forced the redshirt freshman into uncomfortable passing situations.

Anderson made only one glaring mistake – an interception that set up the Falcons’ tying touchdown – but was otherwise ineffective. The coaches didn’t help him much either by keeping him in the pocket on pass plays instead of calling designed rollouts.

The running game’s disappearance was equally perplexing. After rushing for 149 yards in the first quarter, the Bulldogs managed minus-15 over the final three with tailback Marteze Waller a non-factor.

Defensively, it was more of the same. Air Force made the necessary adjustments – and gained 586 total yards –while Fresno State became undisciplined before getting worn down from being on the field too long.

There will be no lipstick on this pig of a season.

Halftime

Football is a game of adjustments. Air Force made them during the first half of Saturday’s game at Falcon Stadium.

Fresno State did not.

After spotting the Bulldogs two early touchdowns on runs of 60 and 64 yards, Air Force got its triple-option offense rolling while forcing Fresno State quarterback Kilton Anderson into pass mode.

By the time the second quarter ended, what was an early 14-0 Bulldogs lead had become a 21-14 halftime deficit.

How big was the production dropoff? Fresno State’s first three drives netted 224 yards. The next four netted negative 18.

Anderson made only one glaring mistake, but it was a costly one.

On third-and-6, the redshirt freshman stared down his intended receiver and cornerback Roland Ladipo stepped in front for the interception.

Ladipo returned the pick to the Bulldogs’ 10-yard line, setting up the tying touchdown by quarterback Karson Roberts.

Roberts accounted for all of Air Force’s first-half scoring with three rushing touchdowns.

The Bulldogs got their two touchdowns in rapid succession. Marteze Waller broke loose for a 64-yard touchdown, practically untouched, and Dustin Garrison followed on the next position for a 60-yard scoring scamper.

The first quarter ended with Fresno State holding a 234-102 advantage in total yardage, including 149 on the ground.

It didn’t last.

The first half ended with Air Force holding the yardage advantage, 271 to 225.

That’s quite a turnaround and doesn’t exactly bode well for the second half.

Marek Warszawski: 559-441-6218, @MarekTheBee

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