Fresno State was looking for wins anywhere it could find them in a 48-16 loss on Saturday at No. 6 Washington, and in the third quarter opportunity was there.
The Bulldogs’ defense forced two turnovers, giving the offense short fields at the Huskies’ 26- and 40-yard lines.
Mike linebacker Jeffrey Allison forced the first turnover with a hit on running back Myles Gaskin, the fumble recovered by George Helmuth. Helmuth forced the second one on a sack of backup quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels, that one recovered by defensive tackle Jasad Haynes.
Our team came out with a lot of fire, I feel like we came prepared, we prepared all week to have a good game. But Washington came out with some fire that we matched in the beginning, but they took it over a little bit.
Fresno State wideout KeeSean Johnson
Touchdowns alter the score and perhaps perception, but what they got were field goals.
Jimmy Camacho hit from 29 yards and 34 yards.
“It’s definitely hard to settle for field goals,” center Aaron Mitchell said. “We have to learn how to take advantage of those short fields. Our defense played their (butts) off. They put us in great situations. We just need to finish better, bottom line.”
Marcus McMaryion, the backup quarterback, was in the game at that point, taking over for starter Chason Virgil at the start of the second half.
The Bulldogs gained only 14 yards on five plays and then 23 yards on five plays before Camacho hit the first and second of three field goals in the second half.
There are a number of things the Bulldogs can build on coming out of back-to-back losses on the road at No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Washington.
Those short-field situations obviously are on the list.
“It’s definitely something we can pick up on,” Mitchell said. “Everyone knows when you have a short field you have to capitalize on it, especially in games like this. You don’t want to have to be driving 80 yards to go get some points. When you have a short field there has to be blood in the water. You have to go attack when it’s a short field and use it to our advantage and of course that’s something we can build on.
With a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown, Washington’s Dante Pettis tied Wes Welker (Texas Tech, 2000-03) and Antonio Perkins (Oklahoma, 2001-04) with eight career punt return touchdowns.
“Just being hungry to get in that end zone. I think that’s one thing we need to be better at. We need to be hungry. When we’re that close, we need to go get it. We need to attack that end zone and go get some points on the board.”
Pettis gets ‘em – Blake Cusick punted the ball five times with a long of 50 yards, dropped two inside the 20 and averaged 42.0 yards per kick.
But he also left Washington return man Dante Pettis an opening, on what was a pretty good kick between the left hash and sideline. Pettis made it hurt, returning that punt 77 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the Huskies a 27-0 lead.
It was the eighth career punt return touchdown for Pettis, tying the NCAA record, and also the third game in a row he has returned a punt for a score.
Pettis had a 61-yard return against Rutgers and a 67-yard return against Montana.
“We punted the ball into the boundary and tried to pin him in and he still got out of there,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “He is so slippery and has great balance and great speed, and, you know everything he does as a receiver as well. We should of had the long one covered, we had guys back there and just lost sight of the ball and he made a play on it and we didn’t.”
We played a great football team and they executed very well. We fell behind early and, you know, it’s hard to comeback against a team like that.
Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford
The Huskies’ receiver also caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Jake Browning covering 4, 7 and 73 yards.
“It was a lot of one-on-one coverages, so we try to take advantage of that when we can and we did tonight,” Pettis said.
Slice and dice – Browning hit on 19 of 22 (86.4 percent) passes for 255 yards and four touchdowns and the Huskies in the game were 25 of 28 (89.3 percent) for 328 yards.
Pettis hit on a pass, and Carta-Samuels was 5 of 5.
The Huskies’ passing efficiency rating for the game was 234.83, the highest against the Bulldogs going back through 2008.
San Jose State quarterback David Fales had a 228.33 rating in a 62-52 victory over the Bulldogs in 2013, snapping their 10-game winning streak.
“They just do a great job of executing and they have a great quarterback who is very efficient, and finds match ups and works the field very, very well,” Tedford said. “And they have very good guys around him and they protected him well. When he gets protection like that, he can contend with pretty much any defense.”
Jordan shut out – The Bulldogs’ Jamire Jordan went into the game with a streak of 26 consecutive games with a reception, tied for the 11th longest streak in the nation.
You have to take advantage of the short fields. You don’t want to have to be driving 80 yards to go get some points. So when we have a short field, it’s got to be blood in the water, we have to go attack it.
Fresno State center Aaron Mitchell
He was shutout by the Huskies, targeted only once by Virgil in the first half.
KeeSean Johnson did extend his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 25. Johnson was targeted 11 times and caught four passes for 51 yards.
The Huskies were credited with seven pass breakups in the game.
Picked – Virgil was picked off in the first quarter by linebacker Tevis Bartlett on a screen pass, a turnover that led to a quick touchdown and 20-0 lead.
The Huskies were well prepared for it.
“We had been repping it all week,” Bartlett said. “The screen is a play they used against Alabama so we practiced it this week. When you see the cut block, shed it and get your hands up.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada