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|Fresno St. holds off Tech|
RUSTON - Robbie Rouse rushed for 286 yards and one touchdown and Ryan Colburn tossed three touchdowns to lead Fresno State to a 40-34 win over Louisiana Tech before 17,051 fans at Joe Aillet Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Behind a rushing attack that totaled 300 yards, Fresno State (6-2, 3-1 WAC) dominated possession of the football all afternoon as the California-based Bulldogs held onto the ball for more than 41 minutes compared to Louisiana Tech's 19 minutes.
"It was a tough game today; a disappointing loss," said Tech head coach Sonny Dykes. "We did not play well on either side of the football. I'm really surprised that we had a chance to win as poorly as we played."
Tech (3-6, 2-3 WAC) jumped out to an early 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest. The Bulldogs struck first on a 28-yard scoring toss from Ross Jenkins to Taulib Ikharo, capping a six play, 48-yard drive as Matt Nelson's extra point made the score 7-0.
After a fumble recovery by Mason Hitt on a sack by Jay Dudley of Colburn, Tech took over on the Fresno State 43-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Jenkins threw a lateral to Richie Casey in the right flat who then turned back and threw back across the field to Jenkins who ran 42 yards before fumbling on the one-yard line.
However, Ikharo recovered the fumble in the endzone for Tech giving the Bulldogs a 14-0 lead.
After Fresno State cut the lead to 14-7 on a Colburn six-yard pass to Jamel Hamler with 6:52 to play in the opening quarter, Tech marched again down to the FSU 24-yard line. A fourth down and two play was snuffed by the FSU defense as Pat Hill and Co. took over with 4:18 to play in the quarter.
Tech's offense would struggle after the failed conversion, not recording another first down until midway through the third quarter.
Fresno State's Kevin Goessling hit a 49-yard field goal with 9:09 to play in the second quarter as Tech led 14-10 at the break.
After Fresno State took a 17-14 lead on a Colburn 10-yard pass to Hamler, Tech reclaimed the lead as Jenkins found Ikharo for a 20-yard strike with 7:11 to play in the third quarter and a 21-17 Bulldog lead.
Fresno State then scored 17 unanswered points to begin the fourth quarter, the last coming on a 33-yard touchdown pass to Hamler (his third of the game) as FSU led 33-21 with only 4:10 to play.
However, on the ensuing kickoff Phillip Livas fielded the ball on the Tech five-yard line, faked the reverse and then raced 95-yards almost untouched to the endzone to make the score 33-28. The return was Livas' seventh kickoff/punt return of his career, moving him to within one of the all-time NCAA Division I record shared by five other individuals (the last being CJ Spillers of Clemson).
The Bulldog defense then forced a Fresno State punt as Tech took over on its own 32-yard line with 3:06 to play. After a five-yard carry by Lennon Creer on first down, Jenkins tried to go downfield but was intercepted by Fresno State's Desia Dunn who returned the ball to midfield.
"I thought we had made more progress," Dykes said. "For us to play the way we did this late in the season is really disappointing."
Rouse then raced 51-yards untouched for a score to up the FSU lead to 40-28 with 2:20 to play.
"We gave up a lot of big plays," Dykes said. "We knew they were going to run the football; that is what they do. But if we don't go three and out six or seven times on offense, ..."
LA Tech would not go quietly though as Jenkins then orchestrated a seven-play, 67-yard drive as he found Casey in the left corner of the endzone for a 19-yard touchdown with 1:12 to play in the game. Nelson's extra point was blocked as LA Tech trailed 40-34.
Tech's onside kick was recovered by Fresno State, who then ran out the clock.
Creer was held in check all afternoon, totaling only 56 yards on 17 carries. Jenkins completed 16-of-30 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns.
Dudley led Tech defensively with a career-high 18 tackles while Adrien Cole (11 tackles), Chad Boyd (11 tackles) and Javontay Crowe (10 tackles) all eclipsed double digits.
Fresno State ran 89 offensive plays to LA Tech's 55.
Tech returns to action Saturday when it travels to Las Cruces.
(Report courtesy latechsports.com)