RENO, Nev. - The Fresno State defense scored three touchdowns and Robbie Rouse ran for 261 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 52-36 win at Nevada on Saturday at Mackay Stadium.
The win snapped Fresno State's four-game losing streak to Nevada (6-4, 3-3 MW). The Bulldogs remain tied for first place in the Mountain West with an 8-3 overall record and 6-1 mark in league play. Fresno State is now one win away from capturing its first conference championship since 1999.
"We want to win championships here. Our kids bought into that and that's what we got a chance to do now," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. The Bulldogs host Air Force on Nov. 24 in their last game of the season for a shot at the league title.
"Everybody was so excited, everybody was just yelling and it was just a great feeling," Rouse said about the environment in the locker room after the victory. "I just love to see my teammates smiling, coaches smiling and everybody smiling. Smiles all around, it's a great feeling."
Fresno State's three defensive touchdowns tied the school single-game record that was set back in 2004 against Washington. The Bulldogs had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries and now have 30 take-aways on the season.
"It feels great and I don't know if anything like this has ever happened before, but it just shows our competitiveness," said senior safety Phillip Thomas, who picked off his eighth pass of the season. "To know what we are playing for, it feels great. The excitement in the locker room is at its peak. We know we got one more, but we are excited about this one tonight."
Rouse pounded the Wolf Pack defense, particularly in the second half when he ran for 174 of his 261 yards in the game. He finished the evening with 36 carries for the 261 yards and two touchdowns. It was his third 200 yard game of his career, setting a new school record.
"That last one for the touchdown, you can't say enough about what kind of heart that guy has and to see him do it in a game that meant so much, that's awesome," DeRuyter said of Rouse's 39-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter where he broke five tackles to find the end zone.
"The guys got a bigger heart than anybody," DeRuyter added, saying, "he plays so hard and our guys rally around him because they know if they sustain that block he is going to keep on going."
Defensively, Fresno State's big plays sparked the team early. Derron Smith returned an interception for a touchdown early in the second quarter to give the 'Dogs a 14-7 lead.
Fresno State forced turnovers on Nevada's first three possessions of the third quarter and scored two defensive touchdowns within a six-minute span to turn what was a tied game at the half into a 38-21 lead.
"Turnovers are a big deal in the win-loss column," Smith said. "If you have a winning record, most of the time you are getting turnovers. We know we still have one more game to go, but we felt like this was a big hurdle. We haven't always played great on the road, so it felt good to get a great road win."
On Nevada's first drive of the third, Donovan Lewis sacked Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo on their three-yard line. He knocked the ball out and Tyeler Davison recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
After Thomas' interception led to a 31-yard field goal from Quentin Breshears, Travis Brown struck again for the Bulldog defense. He stripped Wolf Pack running back Stefphon Jefferson at the line of scrimmage, got the ball to bounce right up into his arms and he dashed 26-yards for the touchdown.
Fresno State finished with 500 yards of offense. Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns - a 36-yarder to Davante Adams to open the scoring in the game and a 32-yarder to Marcel Jensen that tied the game at 21 with 1:28 left before the half.
Adams finished the game with nine catches for 120 yards. He has caught a touchdown in six-straight games and has 10 TD receptions on the year. He became the seventh Bulldog to have 10 or more touchdown catches in a year and also went over 1,000 yards receiving in the game. Adams is the first Bulldog receiver to ever have a 1,000-yard season.
Jefferson, Nevada's running back who came into the game leading the nation in rushing, was held to 95 yards on 19 carries. He did score three rushing touchdowns to lead the Pack offense that finished with 404 yards.
Courtesy: Fresno St. Athletics