Final: Fresno State 38, UCLA 14
Fresno State hadn’t hit anywhere near a peak in its first two games during a rout of Idaho and a loss at Minnesota.
But there were stretches in a 38-14 victory over UCLA on Saturday at the Rose Bowl when the Bulldogs looked every bit like a contender in the Mountain West Conference and a team that could challenge for a berth in a New Years Six bowl.
Behind quarterback Marcus McMaryion’s five touchdowns, including four rushing scores, the Bulldogs ripped the Bruins and caused much of the Rose Bowl to go quiet.
Except the strong contingent of Red Wave fans, who celebrated throughout the day and into the night.
“It was awesome to see the Red Wave in full force,” Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford said. “It was great. Especially after the game, coming over there in the corner and seeing (Fresno State fans) go all the way up to the top.
“I really appreciate them making the trip here. it means a lot to our players.”
Even if UCLA is young and struggling, and in just its first season under highly touted coach Chip Kelly, UCLA is nonetheless a Power Five conference program.
And Fresno State had lost its past 10 games against teams from the Pac-12, the Southeastern Conference, the Big Ten.
Stymied a bit after ripping off two 75-yard touchdown drives to start the game, McMaryion got them going again in the third quarter.
Fresno State (2-1) averaged just 3.9 yards in that first half, but 9.1 yards per play in the third quarter when outscoring the Bruins 15-7.
McMaryion ran in three touchdowns in the second half alone — all while dealing with some back issues.
The Bruins are off to an 0-3 start for the first time since 1971.
The announced crowd was 60,867, with most Bulldogs fans located in the south corner of the stadium.
Among those in attendance was NBA star and former Fresno State star Paul George.
Tedford vs. Kelly
Who knew all Tedford had to do was coach at Fresno State to finally get the best of Chip Kelly?
Tedford had gone winless in four games against Kelly in Pac-12 action when Tedford was at Cal and Kelly at Oregon.
But with the two heralded coaches at different schools these days, the outcome turned out to be different, too.
In addition, a Kelly-led team is off to an 0-3 start for the first time in his career.
“We knew this was a very good team coming in,” Kelly said of Fresno State. “I don’t think we got into any real good rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. ... And that hurt us.
“You can’t turn the ball over like we turned the ball over. And you can’t have that many penalties and expect to be in a football game.”
Another pick, another TD
Jeff Allison picked off another pass, his second this game, to set up another Bulldogs score and the rout is on.
Marcus McMaryion just scored on a 2-yard run, his fourth rushing touchdown of the game, and the Bulldogs are now up 38-14.
More points off TO, ‘Dogs extend lead
Fresno State us now up 31-14 after McMaryion scored on another 1-yard run. The Bulldogs took advantage of a UCLA turnover, an interception by linebacker Jeff Allison that gave them possession at the 49-yard line.
The Bulldogs have scored 14 points turnovers in this game, 59 this season.
Bulldogs have an answer
Fresno State just extended its lead to 24-14 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Marcus McMaryion and a 2-point conversion pass from Jorge Reyna to Gunner Javernick.
The Bulldogs went 73 yards on eight plays.
A key play on the drive was a roughing the passer penalty on UCLA’s Quentin Lake on a 3rd-and-5 play, an incomplete pass. The Bulldogs got a first down at the Bruins’ 8-yard line, rather than attempting a field goal there.
UCLA has been penalized 11 times already for 96 yards.
The two-point conversion was pretty.
Check out the formation, with three groups spread out along the line.
The Bulldogs might have been burned by calling a halfback option pass last week in a loss to Minnesota. But as seen here, Fresno State proves it has plenty more trick plays and isn’t afraid to use them.
UCLA within 16-14
The Bruins cashed in the turnover with Bolu Olorunfunmi, the Clovis North grad, scoring from 2 yards out.
Three-and-out streak lives, but …
UCLA went three-and-out to start the second half, but KeeSean Johnson fumbled the ensuing punt. The Bruins have the ball at the Bulldogs’ 17-yard line.
Second half starts
Fresno State has allowed a total of 15 yards to opponents on their opening drives of the second half.
Idaho went three-and-out gaining six yards.
Minnesota went three-and-out gaining nine yards.
Stat of the moment, part II
Fresno State is 11-1 under coach Jeff Tedford when leading at halftime …
Halftime: Fresno State 16, UCLA 7
The Bulldogs took a lead into halftime, but some signs of trouble are emerging.
The offense, which went 75 yards for a touchdown on its first two series, ended the half averaging just 3.9 yards per play.
Fresno State was not likely to sustain the 7.1 yards per play from those first two series, but to average 3.9 yards per play in the half after that start is not good.
Their next three series: 6 plays for 27 yards and a field goal; 9 plays for 32 yards; 6 plays for 14 yards; 1 play for minus-2 yards and the end of the half.
Marcus McMaryion hit just 1 of 4 and 4 of 9 passes to end the half.
The Bulldogs are averaging just 5.1 yards per pass attempt and 2.6 yards per rushing play.
UCLA took advantage of a busted coverage to score on a 45-yard pass from Thompson-Robinson to Theo Howard, who ended up wide open on the play.
Fresno State now leads 16-7, 9:44 to go before halftime.
That 45-yard touchdown was the fifth explosive pass play of 20 or more yards allowed by Fresno State this season. The Bulldogs still have not allowed a run of 20 or more yards.
Fuller FG gives Bulldogs’ 16-0 lead
The Bulldogs gained possession at the UCLA 38 after Patrick Belony recovered a fumbled snap by quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and Asa Fuller ended up hitting a field goal from 28 yards to extend the lead to 16-0.
Idaho Bruins …
Fresno State has a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, missing by a field goal their most productive first quarter of the season.
They had a 16-0 lead against Idaho, gaining 149 yards and nine first downs in that first quarter.
Against the Bruins they have a 13-0 lead and have gained 147 yards and have nine first downs..
Idaho, remember, is a FCS program.
UCLA had 38 yards of offense in the first quarter, averaging just 3.5 yards per play.
More points for the ‘Dogs
The Bulldogs scored on their second possession, McMaryion throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Riddering.. Asa Fuller made the point-after and Fresno State is up 13-0.
Fresno State went 75 yards again this time in eight plays, the big shot a 37-yard pass from McMaryion to tight end Jared Rice.
McMaryion is 9 of 11 passing for 97 yards and one touchdown and the Bulldogs are 4 of 4 on third downs.
Stat of the moment
Fresno State is 9-1 under Tedford when scoring first …
That looked easy; Bulldogs up 6-0
Fresno State drove the ball 75 yards in 13 plays in 4:57 to take a 6-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Marcus McMaryion.
The point-after was missed, wide.
That is the second time in three games Fresno State has scored on its opening possession in a game. The Bulldogs also scored on their first drive in an opening rout of Idaho.
39 and counting …
The Bulldogs’ first pass was a quick shot to KeeSean Johnson. It went for a 6-yard gain and extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one catch to 39.
That is the longest active streak in the nation.
Second on that list headed into the weekend is Toledo wideout Cody Thompson at 31 games.
Toledo visits Bulldog Stadium on Sept. 29.
Who’s in and who’s out?
Fresno State left tackle Netane Muti already has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an Achilles’ tendon injury – he had surgery on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs will go 1 of 2 on Saturday against UCLA with two other starters that came out of a loss last week at Minnesota.
Cornerback Jaron Bryant was able to practice through the week and is expected to play. But slot receiver Michiah Quick, the Central High grad and Oklahoma transfer, was limited and not likely to play against the Bruins.
With Quick out, senior Justin Allen moves up. Allen, a former walk on, caught three passes in the second half of Minnesota game after Quick went down including a 6-yard gain on a 4th-and-3 to the Golden Gophers 4-yard line.
On the next play, the Bulldogs ran the halfback pass with Josh Hokit that was picked off in the end zone Minnesota defensive back Antonie Winfield Jr.
Fresno State center Markus Boyer started his career at UCLA and still has a lot of friends playing for the Bruins.
He has been looking forward to this game – and so has most of his family.
“I’m excited,” he said, during the week. “It’s just fun to go back to the Rose Bowl. I have a ton of family and friends, my fiance is back there, my parents and all my family. I know my grandma and grandpa would love to be there. My grandma passed away a couple of years ago and my grandpa just last year – they hated UCLA.
“They were big USC fans. My dad played at SC, so they all hate UCLA.”