That first touchdown pass came from Brandon Connette, and it pushed the Fresno State Bulldogs to their first lead of the season after 13 quarters of mostly forgettable football. He hit Josh Harper with a 10-yard strike and, boom, a touchdown and a lead.
The second and third came from Brian Burrell, who had been lifted after three series in the first quarter that ended with a punt, on downs and with an interception. He hit freshman tight end Chad Olsen to cap a 2-minute drive just before halftime, then Delvon Hardaway in the third quarter when the redshirt freshman receiver left a defender behind with a simple but super-quick move inside.
The fourth came from Zack Greenlee, a redshirt freshman playing in his first college game, who did not have many team reps in practice last week. It was maybe a handful, tops. He had Da'Mari Scott open on a deep ball, dropped it in perfectly and the receiver did the rest going 81 yards into the end zone.
Four touchdowns, three quarterbacks, one game.
"Is there something wrong with that?" offensive coordinator Dave Schramm asked.
It is a rare feat, though. Fresno State has not had three quarterbacks throw a touchdown pass in one season since 1994 when Richie Donati had 11, Adrian Claiborne had seven and Jeff Tuss had one, and it has not happened in a single game going back through 1982.
But in a 56-16 rout of Southern Utah, the Bulldogs did it in one game.
There have been combinations between now and then when the Bulldogs had three or more players throw touchdown passes in a season -- two quarterbacks and a wide out (2009 and 1999), two quarterbacks and a punter (1998) and even one quarterback, one running back, one wide out and one tight end (1997). In that 1994 season, wide out David Dunn also had two touchdown passes and finished his Fresno State career with one of the better stat lines in school history -- four passing attempts, four completions for 146 yards and three touchdowns with a career passing efficiency rating of 654.1.
But never three quarterbacks in the same game.
And, rather than further muddle the quarterback competition that had dragged on, it clarified it.
In the Bulldogs' Mountain West Conference opener on Friday at New Mexico, Burrell is expected to start, with Greenlee and Connette in back-up roles.
Schramm, bemused by history and never one to let an opportunity at a big play pass, let the possibilities start spinning away upstairs.
"Hey," he said, "we might put three quarterbacks on the same field one day. You never know. ... It can happen."
The Bulldogs went from 0 to 50 in the final three quarters of football against the Thunderbirds, which no team in the football bowl subdivision has done this season.
After putting up a big zero in the first quarter, the Bulldogs scored 21, 21 and 14 points.
But those first 15 minutes continue to confound - Fresno State is only one of three FBS teams that have not scored a single point on offense in the first quarter of its games and it has played one more game than the other two, Tulsa and Southern Methodist.
The ugly ...
• Fresno State has completed only 40.5% (15 of 37) of its first-quarter passes for 80 yards.
• Fresno State has gained 159 yards on 35 rushing plays (4.5-yard average), but 100 of those yards came on just three plays, a 49-yard run by Marteze Waller and a 32-yard run by Burrell against Southern Utah, and a 19-yard run by Waller at USC. With the other 32 plays, the Bulldogs have netted only 59 yards (1.8 ypp).
• Fresno State has had 18 drives that started in the first quarter and punted on 13 of them (72.2%), with three drives ended on downs, one on a missed field goal and one with an interception.
• San Diego State quarterbackQuinn Kaehler
had a streak of consecutive games with 200 or more passing yards snapped at 14 in a 24-7 loss at Oregon State, the longest streak at the school going back through 1996 and the third longest streak in the nation. He hit 14 of 26 passes for 106 yards.
held Louisiana-Lafayette to just 67 rushing yards on 23 plays (2.9 ypp) and has now held four consecutive opponents to less than 100 rushing yards, the first time the Broncos have done that since 2006. Boise State held Mississippi to 71 yards on 34 plays, Colorado State to 28 yards on 23 plays and Connecticut to 48 yards on 36 plays, and is now second of 128 teams in the FBS in rushing defense at 53.5 yards per game. Boise State plays next atAir Force
, which is second in the Mountain West and sixth in the FBS in rushing offense at 335.0 yards per game.
• Broncos quarterbackGrant Hedrick
completed his first 15 passes against Louisiana-Lafayette, missing for the first time with about 1:30 remaining in the first half and finished 24 of 31 for 237 yards.
was penalized 11 times for 171 yards in a 47-14 loss at Houston, losing more yards to penalties than it gained when rushing the football (170 yards) or throwing it (143). The Cougars went into that game with only 259 rushing yards in three games, ranking 116th in the FBS, but gained 263 yards on the ground -- in the second half alone. They finished with 399, and UNLV has now allowed at least 331 rushing yards in three of its four games and every one of its losses.
• The 171 penalty yards for theRebels
matched their total from their first three games this season. They have lost 342 penalty yards in four games - last year they lost 406 in 13 games.
won its third game of the season, beating Florida Atlantic on a field goal with 15 seconds remaining. The Cowboys have trailed at halftime in all three of their victories.
San Jose State lost at Minnesota despite allowing only one completed pass for 7 yards, the fewest passing yards the Spartans have allowed in a game since 1992 when Cal State Fullerton failed to complete any of its 11 pass attempts and lost 49-3.
That is a bit of an oddity, even in the Mountain West, but not unheard of -- Air Force has been in this conference since its inception.
Hawaii lost to the Falcons 21-7 in 2012, a game in which Air Force did not attempt even a single pass. Wyoming lost 10-0 to the Falcons in 2009, when the Falcons hit only 1 of 5 passes for a grand total of 2 yards. New Mexico lost to Air Force 23-10 in 2008 when the Falcons completed 1 of 3 passes for a whopping 1 yard.
Oddly, the Falcons had a season-high 226 passing yards at Wyoming, which also is the most they have had in 19 games since racking up 235 in a loss at Army in 2012 -- a game they lost. Air Force is only 6-14 when passing for 200 or more yards since 2000 and had a 10-game losing streak in such games until winning at Colorado State 45-21 in 2011 when throwing for 221 yards.