Fresno State Football

Bulldogs back in conference championship thanks to halftime changes vs. San Diego State

Highlights from Fresno State’s win over San Diego State

Fresno State retained the Old Oil Can trophy by defeating San Diego State at Bulldog Stadium, 23-14.
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Fresno State retained the Old Oil Can trophy by defeating San Diego State at Bulldog Stadium, 23-14.

Fresno State clinched the West Division title and a spot in the Mountain West championship following a 23-14 victory over San Diego State on Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.

And it took some critical halftime adjustments on both sides of the ball for the Bulldogs to pull off the win.

Down 14-10 at the half, the Bulldogs (9-2, 6-1 in the MW) resolved deep ball issues endured during the first half on defense and figured out how to sustain long drives on offense against an aggressive Aztecs defense.

Fresno State, which averaged just 1.4 yards per run early, scored touchdowns on drives of 70 and 75 yards during the second half. The Bulldogs also didn’t allow a single point after halftime.

Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers scored the first of those touchdowns on a 2-yard run on the Bulldogs’ opening possession of the second half.

Jordan Mims made it a two-score game, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run with 12:40 to play.

There were 36,123 at Bulldog Stadium, the highest attendance this season.

Fresno State will play in the Mountain West championship for the second straight year, both accomplished under coach Jeff Tedford, who had inherited a program that went 1-11 in 2016.

Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion recaps a 23-14 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs at Bulldog Stadium Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. The Bulldogs clinched a West Division title in the Mountain West with the victory.

Bulldogs extend lead, up 23-14

Jordan Mims scored on a 1-yard run to put the Bulldogs up 23-14 with 12:40 to go. The extra point was blocked.

Fresno State went 70 yards in 10 plays, and has been getting solid chunks on the ground. After averaging just 1.4 yards per rush in the first half, the Bulldogs averaged 5.4 yards per play in the third quarter and 4.7 in the second half.

And a stop …

Fresno State just came up with a big third down stop that included big hits by linebacker Jeff Allison on the San Diego State quarterback and by cornerback Jaron Bryant on the Aztecs’ receiver on the play, and they missed a 47-yard field goal attempt.

Fresno State linebacker James Bailey breaks down the Bulldogs' defense and its adjustments in a 23-14 victory over the San Diego State Aztecs Saturday, Nov. 27, 2018. The Bulldogs allowed only 57 yards and no points in the second half.

John Baron, the Aztecs’ kicker, was 16 of 19 this season.

Bulldogs back on top

Ronnie Rivers scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 8-play, 75-yard drive and put the Bulldogs back into the lead. Fresno State is up 14-10.

This is the fifth game in a row the Bulldogs have produced points on their opening drive in the second half.

Yards vs. first downs

San Diego State at halftime has 225 yards of total offense, and just four first downs. It has gained 179 of its yards on just three plays, passes of 75, 34 and 70 yards, all to Fred Trevillion.

1,000 back-to-back

The Bulldogs’ KeeSean Johnson has six receptions for 68 yards, and now has 1,021 receiving yards this season.

He is only the fourth wideout in school history to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons – Larry Willis was the first to do it, then Davante Adams and then Josh Harper.

Taking the bait

Fresno State mangled its coverage on two long touchdown passes in the first half, the first 75 yards, the second 70 yards, and both to wideout Fred Trevillion. Both also were on first down to start drives, and it is somewhat understandable to get a little lost there.

The Bulldogs no doubt are playing run first – San Digo State came in throwing it only 24.2 times per game, 10th in the Mountain West Conference. On first downs, it had run the ball on 76.7 percent of its plays.

Aztecs with another long TD pass

San Diego State is now up 14-10, scoring on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Agnew to Fred Trevillion.

It was a first-down play to start a drive, just like the 75-yard touchdown pass to Trevillion in the first quarter.

Trevillion now has three receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns. San Diego State has completed only four passes, but they have gone for 190 yards with two touchdowns.

Fresno State allowed fewer passing yards against …

Minnesota: 175 yards

UCLA: 151 yards

Wyoming: 117 yards

New Mexico: 132 yards

UNLV: 105 yards

Bulldogs settle for FG

Fresno State has taken a 10-7 lead with 6:47 to go in the second quarter on a 25-yard field goal by Asa Fuller.

The Bulldogs went 63 yards in 10 plays with the big play a 38-yard pass from Marcus McMaryion to KeeSean Johnson. But once into the red zone, their drive stalled. Fresno State had a 1st-and-10 at the 12, but two running backs went for 2 and 2 yards and a third-down pass intended for Jamire Jordan in the end zone was broken up,

100 quarter

The first quarter is done, the score tied at 7. San Diego State had 103 yards of offense in the first quarter – most of it on that 75-yard touchdown pass.

That is the most yards allowed in a first quarter by the Bulldogs’ defense this season.

Aztecs’ answer with long TD pass

San Diego State has tied the score with a long TD pass of its own, 75 yards from Christian Chapman to Fred Trevillion. It’s 7-7 with 6:21 to go in the first quarter.

The 75-yard TD is the longest play from scrimmage allowed by the Bulldogs’ defense this season. Idaho had a 73-yard TD pass in the season-opener.

It also was thee Aztecs’ longest pass play of the season – by 20 yards. Trevillion and Ryan Agnew teamed up for a 55-yard completion against Air Force.

Bulldogs break on top

Fresno State is out to a 7-0 lead, with Marcus McMaryion hitting Jamire Jordan with an 86-yard touchdown pass.

It was a 3rd-and-2 play and San Diego State jumped offside before the snap, so McMaryion took a free shot and he took it. Jordan ran past man coverage, reeled in the pass and raced into the end zone.

It is the Bulldogs’ longest play from scrimmage this season.

Ronnie Rivers had a 76-yard touchdown run against Hawaii, which had been the Bulldogs’ longest play in their first 10 games. The longest pass play was 69 yards, McMaryion to tight end Jared Rice against Nevada. That play went for a first down.

Bulldogs’ d-line down one

Fresno State will be without defensive tackle Jasad Haynes, who has started nine of the Bulldogs’ first 10 games.

The Clovis North grad did not practice during the week due to a lower leg injury.

Haynes did not play in a 27-3 victory over Wyoming due to an injury and in that game Patrick Belony started alongside Kevin Atkins and the Bulldogs played one short in a defensive tackle rotation that at full health goes five deep with Haynes, Atkins, Belony, Keiti Iakopo and Ricky McCoy, the Roosevelt High grad and Washington transfer.

The Bulldogs in that game held the Cowboys to 104 rushing yards on 30 plays, 3.5 yards per, and that could be a good barometer for this match up against the Aztecs.

Wyoming went into the weekend ranked fourth in the Mountain West in rushing offense, generating 191.6 yards per game at 4.7 yards per play. It has the leading rusher in the Mountain West in Nico Evans – 145.8 yards per game.

San Diego State is fifth in the conference, averaging 166.1 yards per game and 44.0 per play. The Aztecs’ leading rusher is Juwan Washington, who missed four games with a clavicle injury, and has churned out 112.3 yards per game at 5.2 yards per play.

Wide out Michian Quick also is not expected to play due to injury.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

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