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`Dogs Beat Hawai`i, Win MW West Division Again Print E-mail
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Written by Jason Clay - Fresno State   
Sunday, 30 November 2014 22:00

FRESNO. - The Fresno State football team defeated Hawai`i 28-21 Saturday evening at Bulldog Stadium on Senior Day to clinch the West Division title for a second-straight year and earn an appearance in next week's Sports Authority Mountain West Championship game.

Fresno State (6-6, 5-3 MW) becomes bowl eligible with the win and in doing so accomplish something that hadn't happened before in school history. The Bulldogs started out the season with three-straight losses, won three-straight, lost another three consecutive games before winning the last three to clinch the division title and get bowl eligible.

 

This is the first time in school history that Fresno State has become bowl eligible after opening a season with three losses. The Bulldogs also become just the 20th FBS team out of 496 since 1980 that have started out 0-3 but went on to play in a bowl.

"This game was kind of indicative of the entire season," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "Our guys don't make things easy at times, but I am extremely proud of our entire group, especially our seniors. This is a group that started off getting kicked in the teeth early in the season and then picked it back up. They found a way to get kicked in the teeth again, but still managed to find a way to win the Western Division."

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead, a score that would remain through the end of the third quarter, before the Rainbow Warriors (4-9, 3-5) made it a game in the fourth quarter with three touchdowns that were all scored on fourth-down plays. The last touchdown came with 45 seconds remaining in the game, but Fresno State safety Shannon Edwards was able to recover the UH onsides kick to end the comeback threat.

"Once again our guys found a way and we are here," DeRuyter said. "It may have been ugly, but we're here and we are not going to apologize for it because we are Western Division champions of the Mountain West."

Fresno State shut out the Rainbow Warriors for the first three quarters of the game, giving the Bulldogs five-straight quarters without allowing a point going back to last week's win at Nevada. Derron Smith played a big part in that, intercepting a pass from Ikaika Woolsey at the Fresno State one-yard line in the third quarter. That was Smith's first pick of the season, but 15th of his career and that moves him back into a tie for the most career interceptions among all active FBS players.

"I've said it before, I'll take a win and another opportunity at a championship over interceptions any day," said Smith, who had a game-high 10 tackles. "We are in the championship game. It doesn't matter what our record is. Whether we are undefeated or 6-6, we get the opportunity to play in a championship game and that is all you can ask for."

Hawai`i got rolling in the fourth, a period in which it gained 147 of its 353 total yards in the game. Fresno State held UH to 4-of-19 on third-downs on the night, but the Rainbow Warriors were a perfect 6-for-6 on fourth downs. Their three scores, all passing touchdowns by quarterback Ikaika Woolsey, came on fourth-and-goal's from the four-, five- and two-yard lines.

Fresno State's defense did have a heck of a game, recording a season-high six sacks and 11 tackles for a loss.

"Sacks are hard to get, sometimes you get a lot of opportunities and sometimes you miss them," said senior nose guard Tyeler Davison, who led the team with a career-high three sacks. "It was cool being the one getting the sack or the tackle or whatever, but that definitely doesn't overshadow the win and being able to come back from losing to UNLV and Wyoming and all that and get to the point where none of that matters. Now we have a chance to win the Mountain West Championship."

Davison's three sacks are the most by a Bulldog since Chris Carter had three sacks against New Mexico State in 2010.

Offensively, Bulldog running back Marteze Waller again produced a 100-yard game, doing so for the seventh time this season. He had a career-high 25 carries in the game that went for 137 yards and he scored two touchdowns.

Wide receiver Josh Harper caught a game-high eight passes for 83 yards and moved into third place in school history for career receptions now with 216.

The Bulldogs will now face the winner of Saturday night's Utah State-Boise State game at the site of the winning team on the Mountain side of the conference.

The 2014 Sports Authority Mountain West Championship game will kick off at 7 p.m. PT on Saturday, Dec. 6 and is televised nationally on CBS.

"Be Bold" - The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes 1600 AM.












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