The lights suddenly came on.
First by Fresno State fans in impromptu fashion as many broke out their phones and flashed their camera lights.
Then by the Bulldogs in a surprising but more deliberate manner while delivering the football team's best first-half performance and building a lead as great as 21 points.
And while some Fresno State fans' phone batteries likely lost power, Fresno State maintained just enough juice in the second half to hold on for a 38-24 victory against San Jose State in a Mountain West game Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium.
The Bulldogs (4-6, 3-3) kept their bowl aspirations alive and snapped a three-game losing streak while reclaiming bragging rights against their longtime rivals on homecoming by securing the Valley Trophy that goes to the annual game's winner.
"We need wins every week, but this was probably more so just because you go three straight weeks and you feel like hell losing and guys start questioning and doubting sometimes," coach Tim DeRuyter said. "We've got a good football team. Sometimes you've got to be reminded by finishing a game and winning. For our psyche, that was really good."
Afterward, players sang the "Bulldog Spirit" fight song alongside a few former players in the locker room.
"We were real energized," senior receiver Josh Harper said of the mood entering the game. "That was one of the main points coming into this week. We just wanted to get rid of a bad taste in our mouth."
Running back Marteze Waller sparked the Bulldogs with 107 rushing yards in the first quarter alone and quarterback Brian Burrell helped Fresno State sustain more drives in his return to the starting lineup after last week's benching.
Waller ran for one touchdown and 146 yards on 22 carries before he suffered a shoulder injury early in the second quarter that sidelined him for the rest of the game. After the game, his status was unclear.
Burrell, meanwhile, completed 18 of his first 22 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns before finishing with 207 yards on 20-of-26 passing. He threw his third touchdown on a 19-yard pass to Harper on a fade route toward the sideline to cap the first drive of the second half and put Fresno State ahead 35-14. Harper finished with seven catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns. He also reached the 200 career receptions mark.
"Brian did a great job throwing it up and giving me a chance to get the ball," Harper said. "I just tried to make a play for him and came down with the ball."
Added DeRuyter: "I was really pleased with the way Brian competed. The thing I love about him is he shows up every day with his lunch pail and guys rally around him. He does a great job leading. He can communicate on the sideline with what he sees. He's effective running our offense and he's getting better."
But just when it seemed like Fresno State was on the road to a victory, the Bulldogs reminded all why they've struggled so much this season with ineffective downfield coverage and stalled drives.
The Bulldogs generated just 33 total yards in the fourth quarter and San Jose State reeled off 10 straight points to get within 35-24.
But the Bulldogs defense, which a week ago surrendered 694 total yards in a 45-17 loss to Wyoming, answered just as they seemed on the brink of falling apart as defensive back Charles Washington came up with an interception with roughly 8 minutes remaining and later stopped the Spartans on fourth-and-4 with 3:07 remaining.
"I think Charles is really valuable to us that we can move him from safety to corner, where ever our needs are," DeRuyter said about Washington, who started at cornerback for the first time five games. "Having him here helped.
"Getting that pick at the end of the game was a huge play for us to finish this thing. Otherwise, it's down to nail-biting time."
The Bulldogs finished with three forced turnovers.
Middle linebacker Kyrie Wilson had an interception that set up a touchdown in the second quarter.
In addition, the Bulldogs blocked a punt that resulted in another touchdown. Da'Mari Scott slipped outside the Spartans' protection for the huge block and T.J. Thomas recovered the ball and returned it 9 yards for the score and a 28-14 lead with 55 seconds left in the first half.
Fresno State fans had broke out their phones and flashed their lights just prior to the block, a move believed to be started by the student section and not prompted or promoted by Fresno State's marketing team.
"That was nice," Harper said. "I don't know what it was about. But it was cool. It was tight."
Fresno State took the 14-point lead into halftime -- marking only the third Bulldogs lead at the half this season and also their largest lead at the break on the year.
And that lead could've been larger had they not concluded back-to-back drives with turnovers in the red zone.
San Jose State didn't help its cause by committing seven penalties for 30 yards in the first half alone. The Spartans also committed two penalties that the Bulldogs declined.
Fresno State helped itself by finally going with a heavy dosage of Waller, the junior running back who entered the night averaging 6.6 yards per carry -- ranked ninth in the nation among players with 100-plus carries.
Waller got the Bulldogs on the scoreboard quickly, breaking lose between the tackles on the right side on third-and-2 for a 44-yard touchdown run with 11:21 left in the first quarter. The play marked the second straight week the Bulldogs scored on their first possession after going scoreless on their first possessions through the first eight games.