FRESNO STATE DEFEATS FOOTBALL, 24-3
FRESNO, Calif. — The Sacramento State football team opened its 2007 season with a 24-3 loss at Fresno State, Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium.
Fresno State posted the first points of the game when Tom Brandstater found tight end Bear Pascoe for a 27-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field. On the third-down play, Pascoe found a seam in the Hornet coverage, caught the ball at the 5-yard line and sprinted into the end zone.
Following a Bulldog fumble, the Hornets offense drove inside the 10-yard line behind a couple of rushes from Travon Jones and a Fresno State personal foul. Sacramento State was stopped short of the goal line and settled for a Juan Gamboa field goal. However, another personal foul was whistled against the Bulldogs and the Hornets took the points off the board. A pass to Kyle McCray placed the ball at the 4-yard line but Jason Smith overthrew Brian Heath in the end zone on third down. Gamboa was, once again, summoned and connected on a 26-yard field goal with 9:14 remaining in the first half.
Fresno State answered right back on its next drive. A big kickoff return from Devon Wylie established good field position and the Bulldogs took advantage of a long third-down scramble from Brandstater to put the ball on the 3-yard line. After two failed attempts to score, Fresno State handed off to Lonyae Miller who broke free from one tackle to score with 6:48 left on the clock.
As time wound down in the first half, the Hornet defense rallied for another big play. Following another long third-down run from Brandstater brought the ball inside the 10-yard line, Fresno State completed a pass to Marlon Moore on the left side of the field. Moore then tried to reach for the goal line but was stripped of the ball and senior Chris Hurts came out of the pile with the turnover.
Sacramento State took the second-half kickoff and methodically drove down the field with a balance of short passes and Jones runs. The drive, however, stalled at the 19-yard line and Gamboa’s 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked by the Bulldogs — their 71st block of either a kick or punt since 1996.
Fresno State added to its lead with a 28-yard touchdown run from Clifton Smith. The Bulldogs converted on a pair of third downs, including a 3rd-and-10 pass to Pascoe. The second conversion came on the touchdown run where Smith broke through the line and outran the defensive backs the remainder of the way.
The final points came on a 47-yard field goal from Clint Stitser with 6:10 remaining in the contest.
With the exception of turnovers and penalties, Fresno State dominated the statistics. The Bulldogs accumulated 475 yards of total offense compared to 102 by the Hornets. Sacramento State finished with 42 rushing yards (including sacks) and was paced by Jones who tallied 49 in his debut. Smith finished the game 13-of-23 for 60 yards while Coogler led the team with six receptions for 41 yards.
Defensively, Cyrus Mulitalo and Brett Shelton led the way. Mulitalo combined on 13 assists and added three solos for a total of 16 stops. Shelton, who started his 34th consecutive game had 14 total tackles, including a team-high six solos.
The Fresno State attack was led by freshman Ryan Matthews’ 77-yard effort on 11 carries. Brandstater was 16-of-27 for 199 yards and Moore caught seven passes for 70 yards.
Sacramento State will have next weekend off before traveling to Portland State on Sept. 15.
NOTES: The 21-point margin of defeat is the smallest against a Football Bowl Subdivsion opponent since 1992…sophomore Jordan Hunter left the game in the second quarter and did not return due to a right knee injury…Smith was the first Hornet freshman to start at quarterback in a season opener since Ryan Leadingham in 2001…Coogler moved into 10th place in school history with 81 career receptions…he also started the game at running back and recorded six carries for seven yards…the Hornet defense forced four fumbles and receovered three……the team had just three penalties for 21 yards…the official attendance was 35,963…temperature at the 7 p.m. kickoff was 102 degrees…the Bulldogs retired former quarterback David Carr’s jersey at halftime.