Recapping the Bulldogs’ 34-31 loss to Colorado State.
Players of the game
Colorado State receiver/returner Joe Hansley: Nearly a one-man wrecking crew in first half with a pair of punt-return touchdowns to keep the Rams close, he then caught the winning touchdown on a 24-yard pass from Nick Stevens with 10:03 to play.
Rams running back Izzy Matthews: Two runs for first downs on the game’s final drive helped close it out and he also had a 39-yard TD as part of his 18-carry, 140-yard night.
Fresno State running back Marteze Waller: Bowed out on Senior Night but not before providing one of the season’s few bright moments, finishing with 112 yards on 27 carries to become the fifth Bulldog to top 3,000 for his career and moving past Michel Pittman (1993-97) for fourth on the school’s all-time rushing list.
Play of the game
Fourth quarter, Colorado State second-and-12 at its 43: It wasn’t the final play of the game but it all but ended it and signaled the end of Fresno State’s hopes for its first season-closing victory since the 2007 Humanitarian Bowl. The Bulldogs, down three and in need of a stop after calling timeout with 2:22 to go, knew the Rams would look to run to work the clock. The run came but the takedown did not, at least not until Izzy Matthews scampered for 12 yards and a first down. Matthews added another 13-yard run on the next play, setting up three snaps out of the victory formation and sending Bulldogs fans to the exits.
Numbers of the game
230: Total yards in the first half for Fresno State, its fourth-biggest half this season
16: Halves of football the Bulldogs failed to generate 200 yards of offense
3: Punt return TDs against the Bulldogs this year; they gave up three in 66 games from 2010-14
287: Punt (136) and kickoff (151) return yards by Colorado State
346: Total yards from scrimmage for the Rams
12: Tackles for loss allowed by the Bulldogs; at 8.8 per game this season, it was the most in the MW
0: Points in the third quarter for the Bulldogs, the seventh time they failed to score out of halftime
14: Rushing TDs this season for Fresno State, fewest since 10 in 2000
16.7: Third-down conversion percentage for Colorado State, which came in at 47.2
0: Drives into the red zone for Colorado State, with its two scores on offense coming from 39 and 24 yards
Sept. 3 at Nebraska: Sure, there’s a whole offseason worth of intrigue, signing day, spring ball and fall camp to come, but the next big date Bulldogs players will circle is the 2016 opener against the Cornhuskers in Lincoln. It ends a two-for-one deal, the one coming in 2014 – a 55-19 loss at Bulldog Stadium. Fresno State fell 42-29 in the programs’ first-ever meeting at Nebraska in 2011.
Fresno State made runs, led Colorado State 24-7 in the second quarter and 31-27 in the fourth, but the special-teams touchdowns that the Bulldogs allowed proved to be their undoing in a loss that capped a 3-9 season, their worst since going 3-8 in 1978.
“First of all, I want to thank all of our 18 seniors,” coach Tim DeRuyter said. “Tremendous young men. Leaders. Guys that have tremendous pride and character. We had a lot of adversity this week, they came out and fought. I wasn’t surprised. We have coaches that have pride, players that have pride. They laid it on the line for this school and I’m extremely proud of their effort.
“I thought we started the game with adversity, giving up a return. Our kids responded. Guys are growing up. I thought out defense played their tails off. We got beat up a little bit. In the second half we didn’t fit some runs well, but when they were on the field I think they only scored a couple of touchdowns.
“We have to clean up special teams. We got guys at the point of attack. We have to do a better job with fundamentals and getting guys down. I thought our offense came out and attacked, did a great job moving the football. (Quarterback Kilton Anderson) is growing up. I’m really proud of his effort and it’s just sickening to me for these seniors that we couldn’t find a way to finish on Senior Day for them.”
Ederaine just short – Ejiro Ederaine didn’t get the Mountain West record for career tackles for loss, but the senior outside linebacker did get a nice going away present.
After Tyquwan Glass returned an interception to the Colorado State 1-yard line in the second quarter, Ederaine went in on offense. He took a shotgun snap and breezed into the end zone to give the Bulldogs a 17-7 lead. It was the second career touchdown for Ederaine – he had returned a fumble 78 yards for a score in a 35-28 overtime victory at San Diego State in 2013.
“Actually, Coach (Dave) Schramm was lobbying me at first. I told him I quit playing offense back in ’98,” Ederaine joked. “We did it in practice and I went the wrong way because there was a mixup with Kilton. It was fun, though. I was actually a little bit nervous because I’ve never been hit before on offense. I didn’t want to get blasted.”
Ederaine, who was credited with eight tackles in the game including one for a loss, finished his career with 229 tackles including 45.5 tackles for loss.
The top five on the Mountain West career list:
- Miles Burris (San Diego State) 47.0
- Ejiro Ederaine (Fresno State) 45.5
- Jan Jorgensen (BYU) 44.0
- Mychal Sisson (Colorado State) 42.0
- Chase Ortiz (TCU) 41.5
Made it – Marteze Waller needed 4 yards to become the fifth back in Fresno State history with 3,000 career rushing yards and he didn’t waste any time getting it.
The senior from Eatonton, Ga., gained 5 on his first carry. He lost 1 yard on his next, but pulled well clear of the milestone, passing the 100-yard mark for the game in the third quarter and finishing with 112 on 27 carries and 3,108 yards in his Bulldogs career.
Waller finished fourth on the Fresno State career list behind Robbie Rouse (4,674 yards from 2009-12), Ron Rivers (3,473 from 1991-93) and Ryan Mathews (3,280 from 2007-09).
Third down D – Colorado State went in converting 47.2 percent of its third-down plays into first downs, ranking second in the Mountain West. Fresno State allowed them to move the sticks on 2 of 12 third downs (16.7 percent), a season worst for the Rams and a season best for the Bulldogs.
But there was a problem in there for the home team. At the 8:03 mark in the third quarter, the Rams were 2 of 10 and Fresno State could get them into only two more third-down plays the rest of the way.
Colorado State ran 23 plays from that point and averaged 8.2 yards, scoring on a 39-yard run by Izzy Matthews that capped a five-play, 75-yard drive and a 24-yard pass from Nick Stevens to Joe Hansley that capped a six-play, 61-yard drive.
Et cetera – Defensive end Todd Hunt topped the Senior Day ceremonies, proposing to his girlfriend, Michelle. The couple had a son, Jackson James Hunt, in October.
▪ The interception by Glass was his fourth this season, the most by a Fresno State player since the 2013 season when Derron Smith had seven to rank in a five-way tie for second in the nation.
▪ Anderson completed six consecutive passes in the second half, which is a pretty good run for a Bulldogs quarterback this season. The most hit in a row is eight by freshman Chason Virgil in the loss at Ole Miss. Zack Greenlee hit six straight in the victory at Hawaii and Fresno State had four other runs where it completed five consecutive passes.
▪ Redshirt freshman defensive end Kyle Hendrickson left in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a left knee injury, a bad break going into the spring. Fresno State is losing both starting defensive ends in Hunt and Claudell Louis, both seniors, and there are depth issues in the position group. “It’s an unfortunate part of football,” DeRuyter said. “It looks like he has a lower leg injury that may require surgery. We’ll find out later, tomorrow or the next day. It’s tough. Like I talk to our team all the time, it doesn’t matter the circumstances, it’s your attitude and how you fight coming back and I know he’ll fight.”
▪ DeRuyter on the senior class: “I told them in that locker room to hold their head up, that the last memory of them was fighting their tails off. The scoreboard always counts, but the fact that they fought to the end I’m extremely proud of them.”
▪ The Bulldogs rushed for four touchdowns in the game, matching a season high set in a 31-28 victory over UNLV. Waller, Ederaine, Dustin Garrison and Anderson scored. For Anderson, it was his fifth rushing touchdown this season, the most by a Fresno State quarterback since David Carr had five in 2001.