Fresno State Football

Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State 33, Houston 27 FINAL (gallery)

Fresno State recovered an onside kick by Houston and ran out the clock to win the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

Fresno State was protecting a 33-27 lead after Houston scored a late touchdown.

NOTE: This is the running report on the Hawaii Bowl. For a game wrapup and more, click here

Houston drove 76 yards in 16 plays to score when D’Eriq King lobbed a 2-yard pass to a wid-open Linell Bonner on third-and-goal with 45 seconds left.

More from earlier in the game:

Fresno State took a huge stride toward ending its “island curse” in the Hawaii Bowl, getting an interception return for a fourth-quarter touchdown and a 33-20 lead over Houston on Christmas Eve.

Protecting a precarious six-point lead, the Bulldogs were backpedaling after two Houston first downs. But on a first-down play, Cougars quarterback D’Erick King’s pass was deflected by Fresno State’s Robert Stanley (using his left hand on an athletic play) and Jaron Bryant navigated through some traffic for the 44-yard touchdown return with 3:49 left in the game.

Fresno State extended its lead to 26-20 late in the fourth quarter, but a critical sequence could leave the Bulldogs in a bad place in the Hawaii Bowl against Houston on Christmas Eve.

Fresno State drove 66 yards in 13 plays to Jimmy Camacho’s fourth field goal of the game, a 33-yarder with 6 minutes left in the game.

But Fresno State had a first-and-goal, and Ronnie Rivers got the ball to the 1-yard line on second down.

It seemed that Rivers might’ve been able to touch the right-front corner pylon with the ball – a touchdown. But officials ruled he stepped out of bounds at the 1.

Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford ran onto the field trying to get officials’ attention. He did – but his action by rule is unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty.

The replay official reviewed Rivers’ run and confirmed the out-of-bounds call, leaving Fresno State with a long third down that it couldn’t convert. The Bulldogs settled for the field goal and a less-than-touchdown lead.

In what is developing to be an entertaining, back-and-forth Hawaii Bowl, Fresno State answered a shocking Houston score with a field goal to take a 23-20 lead early in the fourth quarter on Christmas Eve.

Houston’s Jeremy Winchester blocked a 24-yard field-goal attempt by Fresno State and teammate Alexander Myres caught the ball in midair and returned it 94 yards for a touchdown, tying the game 20-20.

The Bulldogs were set up when Houston muffed a kickoff. But the Cougars held the Bulldogs to the field-goal attempt that was blocked.

After Houston’s tying TD, Fresno State drove 81 yards in 10 plays, settling for Jimmy Camacho’s third field goal of the game, a 26-yarder with 13:56 left in the game.

Fresno State answered a Houston score with a touchdown to take a 20-13 lead in the third quarter on Christmas Eve.

The Bulldogs drove 75 yards in nine plays to score on Marcus McMaryion’s 6-yard quarterback sneak. With Houston mounting heavy pressure on successive downs, the Bulldogs created a pocket that McMaryion was able to run through, then sidestep to the end zone with 4:21 left in the third quarter.

Three big pass plays fueled the drive: 29 yards and 12 yards to KeeSean Johnson, and 17 yards to Jared Rice.

Houston took advantage of a fumble on Fresno State’s first possession of the second half and tied the Hawaii Bowl 13-13 on a 31-yard field goal by Caden Novikoff.

Houston covered 45 yards in 10 plays to score with 7:57 left in the third quarter.

First-half recap

Fresno State went ahead of Houston 13-10 at halftime of the Hawaii Bowl.

The Bulldogs took the lead on the second field goal of the game by Jimmy Camacho, a 38-yarder to end the first half. It culminated a 10-play, 50-yard drive in just 1 minute 11 seconds.

Fresno State took its first lead of the game 10-7 when Camacho made a 27-yard field goal with 9:45 left in the first half.

It culminated a nine-play, 60-yard drive and marked points on two straight possessions for the Bulldogs.

Fresno State defensive back Tank Kelly left the game on the previous Houston possession. He walked to the locker room assisted by trainers.

Houston responded with a drive of its own, culminating in a 31-yard field goal by Caden Novikoff with 7:17 left in the half.

Fresno State tied it with a fourth-down touchdown earlier in the second quarter.

The 11-play, 68-yard drive was grind-it-out, with quarterback Marcus McMaryion diving in from the 1 for the score with 14:13 left in the first half.

Houston took a 7-0 lead, scoring on a 1-yard run by Outland Trophy winner Ed Oliver.

Oliver, whose prowess is on the defensive side of the football, was inserted after the Cougars got a first-and-goal at the 1 and immediately scored, pushing his 6-foot-3, 290-pound frame through the Bulldogs defense.

Houston got in position with a flea-flicker that resulted in a 48-yard pass play from D’Eriq King to Steven Dunbar.

The score came at 11:35 of the first quarter on Houston’s first possession. Fresno State had the first possession and punted after losing three yards on three plays.

McMaryion was intercepted on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage after the TD, but Houston was held to a field-goal attempt that sailed wide right.


▪ “We’ve gotta limit the explosive plays and we’ll be OK,” Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford told ESPN at halftime.

▪ Sophomore tight end Jared Rice out of Modesto’s Central Catholic High is having a big game for the Bulldogs with five catches for 57 yards. McMaryion is 19 of 30 for 181 yards and one interception.

Marek Warszawski: 559-441-6218, @MarekTheBee

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