The football gods were finally in Fresno State’s favor.
Or maybe it was the rain gods.
To a Bulldogs football team parched for a victory, it didn’t matter which.
A monsoon-like rainstorm engulfed Bulldog Stadium late in the fourth quarter Friday night with UNLV driving for the potential winning touchdown, helping preserve a 31-28 Fresno State victory.
It was a good soaking, and just in time to help the home team end a five-game losing streak.
With the rain pouring down, UNLV coach Tony Sanchez decided to forgo a long field-goal attempt. Linebacker Justin Green sacked Rebels quarterback Kurt Palandech on fourth down to end the threat.
These teams were evenly matched. The difference was fight and resiliency. For the first time this season, the Bulldogs showed more grit than their opponent.
Much of that was due to quarterback Kilton Anderson. The redshirt freshman passed for 193 yards and ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns while not committing a turnover.
It was Anderson who led the go-ahead drive, capped by a 38-yard Marteze Waller touchdown scamper with 2:37 left.
Fresno State trailed 28-14 until late in the third quarter before scoring 17 unanswered points.
The decision to go with Anderson at quarterback proved wise. He showed improved decision-making in his second career start and passed with more accuracy.
Anderson was much more effective running the read option, especially in the first half, and led the offense on six drives of 50 yards or longer.
It was, quite simply, the most efficient and mistake-free outing for a Bulldogs quarterback this season.
No, that’s not saying much. But give Anderson credit. He played well in his second career start and deserves to be the guy moving forward.
In a season filled with negative vibes and frustration, Fresno State finally has something positive to build on. At last.
Following five straight dismal outings, Fresno State played a competitive and feisty first half Friday night against UNLV.
How competitive? Well, the halftime score was 14-14.
In his second career start, quarterback Kilton Anderson proved a quick study running the read option.
After struggling with his reads last week against Utah State, Anderson was more willing to keep the ball and take off running. The results were evident on the Bulldogs’ first drive when the redshirt freshman sprinted for 35 yards on a third-and-one.
Anderson then scored Fresno State’s first touchdown, from six yards out, by bowling over a defender when it looked like his path was blocked.
How much more productive was the Bulldogs’ offense? Their first three drives went 83, 67 and 48 yards, with No. 3 capped by a 17-yard Marteze Waller touchdown run.
Anderson finished the first half with 61 rushing yards while completing 8 of 10 passes for 64 yards. Waller had 56 yards on 14 carries. The ground game helped set up easy completions for Anderson.
After surrendering an easy touchdown on UNLV’s opening drive, the Bulldogs’ defense cleaned up many of its missed tackles to force consecutive punts.
But the Rebels kept grinding, and drove for the tying touchdown with 42 seconds left before halftime on a 13-yard pass from Kurt Palandech to Kendal Keys.
Check back a few minutes after the final whistle for Marek’s postgame update.