Gritty Bulldogs Win at New Mexico, 35-24 Print
News - Sports
Written by Jason Clay - Fresno State   
Friday, 26 September 2014 00:00

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Fresno State football team opened up Mountain West play with a come-from-behind victory over New Mexico at University Stadium, coming back from 10-down in the first half to win 35-24 Friday night on ESPN2.


The Bulldogs (2-3, 1-0 MW) overcame two turnovers and the first-half hole with a strong second-half showing from the defense and an offense that scored on 4-of-5 drives from the end of the second quarter to the beginning of the fourth.


"I hope people got a chance to see us tonight and see that we got a gritty team," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "I think we lost the turnover battle by two and to do that on the road and still find a way to win, to me it's kind of a gut-check for our team and yet we were able to do it."


Fresno State spoiled New Mexico's homecoming with that strong second half, where it held the Lobos to only 93 yards in the final 30 minutes after giving up 289 in the first half.


"You just got to get a feel for the play calls, the linemen pulling and just the offensive tendencies," said senior linebacker karl Mickelsen who had a season-high 12 tackles. "In the option read, a team like this when everything is moving so fast, you just got to slow everything down and play your game."


The Bulldogs were down 17-7 after a Lamar Jordan 26-yard touchdown run with 6:38 left in the second quarter. Fresno State got the spark it needed right before the half, when starting quarterback Brian Burrell led the team down 87 yards for a touchdown in the final minute to pull within three. Burrell was 5-of-6 on the drive for all 87 yards and hit Josh Quezada on a 10-yard touchdown pass right before the half.


That led to Fresno State scoring on four of its next five drives to take the lead for good early in the fourth.


"The coaches got us ready, had a good game plan and we just went out there and executed," Burrell said.


He finished the game throwing for over 300 yards for the first time in his career, completing 27-of-39 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns to go with 63 yards rushing and another score on the ground.


"I felt more comfortable as the game went on," Burrell said. "The thing about it was I was trusting my receivers and trusting myself. There were several times I just threw the ball up to my receivers and they went up and made plays."


Josh Harper had a six catches for 94 yards and one score and Aaron Peck had 83 yards receiving also on six catches. The third touchdown pass went to Greg Watson on Fresno State's first drive of the second half.


A week after rushing for 389 yards as a team - the most since 2004 - Fresno State added 272 yards on the ground and 593 yards of total offense against the Lobos.


"I think our offensive coaches do a nice job seeing what the defense is doing so we can take advantage and we have players that can make plays," DeRuyter said. "In the run game we had some explosive plays. In the throw game, throwing the ball to (Harper), we think he is one of the best receivers certainly in the conference if not the whole west coast. It was good to see a bunch of guys making plays out there."


Marteze Waller had 19 rushes for a career-high 163 yards, averaging 8.6 yards per carry with a long rush of 43 yards. Quezada added 38 yards on the ground and his touchdown in the final minute of the third quarter put Fresno State up for good.


Burrell's rushing touchdown in the fourth with 11:55 to play ended the night's scoring, as the Bulldog defense held the Lobos to just seven total yards on 11 plays in the fourth quarter.


Probably one of the biggest moments in this game came in the third quarter.


Fresno State opened the half with Burrell's touchdown pass to Watson to take a lead, but the Lobos answered right back with a 36-yard touchdown pass of their own on the ensuing drive.


The Lobos then got the Bulldogs to turn the ball over in their territory, when a pass from Burrell was deflected at the line of scrimmage and picked off by Tevin Newman at the Fresno State 30-yard line.


The Bulldog defense held stern though, and on a fourth-and-1 Charles Washington had a one-yard tackle for a loss to give Fresno State back the ball and prevent New Mexico from expanding on what was a 24-21 lead.


That momentum swing in Fresno State's direction led to an 11-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that Quezada capped by scoring on a fourth-and-goal from the one.


Fresno State now returns home for the second of four consecutive Friday night games when it hosts San Diego State at 7 p.m. in Bulldog Stadium.


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