Bulldogs chew up Pack
The Nevada Wolf Pack’s dreams of Mountain West football championship are over.A crowd of 22,104 braved freezing temperatures Saturday night at Mackay Stadium and were rewarded with the Wolf Pack’s biggest loss at home in four years, 52-36 to the Fresno State Bulldogs.The Pack, now 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the Mountain West, has now lost three games in a row for the first time since the first three games of the 2009 season and has lost back-to-back home games for the first time since 2008. The loss is also the Pack’s biggest at home since another 16-point (35-19) loss to Texas Tech in 2008.The loss to Fresno — the Pack’s first setback to the Bulldogs since 2007 — and San Diego State’s 28-9 victory over Air Force on Saturday eliminated the Pack from the conference title chase. San Diego State and Fresno State are now 6-1 in Mountain West play with one game to play. Boise State, which comes to Mackay Stadium on Dec. 1, also remains in the conference race at 5-1 with two games to play.The Wolf Pack, which has now allowed 176 points in its last four games combined, played the role of friendly host. Fresno State’s defense scored three touchdowns directly off Pack turnovers to take control of the game in the second half.When the Pack wasn’t simply giving away touchdowns, the Bulldogs were more than happy to go out and take them. Bulldogs’ running back Robbie Rouse ran for 261 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries and quarterback Derek Carr completed 17 of 35 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns.By comparison, Wolf Pack running back Stefphon Jefferson, who entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher, ran for 95 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. The Bulldogs, though, turned a Jefferson fumble into a touchdown. Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo completed 21 of 39 passes for 214 yards but the sophomore fumbled the ball away and tossed an interception for a pair of Bulldog touchdowns.Fresno State took a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the game. Carr connected with Davante Adams on a post pattern from 36 yards out for the touchdown and the 7-0 lead. Adams, who has now caught a touchdown pass in each of the last six games, caught four passes for 68 yards on the six-play, 79-yard drive.The Pack came right back on the next drive. Jefferson carried the ball four times for 18 yards and caught two passes for 24 yards on the 12-play, 81-yard drive. Jefferson , went for seven yards on first-and goal from the 9 and then scored from two yards out to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:26 left in the first quarter.Fresno State safety Derron Smith stepped in front of a Fajardo pass and returned the interception 34 yards for a touchdown as the Bulldogs took a 14-7 lead with 10:25 to play in the second quarter. Fajardo rolled to his right on the play to escape the pass rush from blitzing linebacker Shawn Plummer and then threw back toward the middle of the field for tight end Zach Sudfeld. Smith stepped in front of Sudfeld to haul in his sixth interception of the season and went untouched to the end zone.Fresno State now has at least one interception in each of the last eight games.The Wolf Pack, though, didn’t allow the Bulldogs much time to celebrate Smith’s play. The Pack went 79 yards in just six plays on the very next drive to tie the game at 14-14. Fajardo ran for seven yards for a first down and found wide receiver Brandon Wimberly (17 yards) and Richy Turner (13 yards) for two more first downs on the drive.The big play of the drive was a 42-yard run up the middle by Jefferson down to the Bulldogs’ 2-yard line. The Wolf Pack running back scored his second touchdown of the game on the next play from two yards out with 8:11 to play in the half.The Wolf Pack defense played a key role in giving the Pack its first lead of the game. Jonathan McNeal forced a fumble by Fresno State’s Rashad Evans on a punt return. Jordan Dobrich picked up Evans’ fumble and returned it 21 yards to the Bulldogs’ 19-yard line.It took Fajardo and Jefferson just four plays and 60 seconds to cover the 19 yards. Fajardo ran twice on the drive for nine yards and Jefferson carried it into the end zone from seven yards out for his third touchdown of the game and a 21-14 Pack lead with 4:41 left in the half.The Pack defense, however, gave the lead right back.The Bulldogs went 79 yards in seven plays to tie the game at the half. Rouse carried the ball four times for 30 yards on the drive and Carr found a wide open tight end Marcel Jenkins for a 32-yard touchdown with 1:28 to play in the half. Carr also connected with Evans on a 29-yard gain down the middle at the Pack 35-yard line on the drive.It didn’t take long, though, for the Bulldogs to recapture the lead in the third quarter.Fajardo fumbled the ball away after a hit by Fresno linebacker Donavon Lewis inside his own 5-yard line. Fresno defensive tackle Tyeler Davison fell on the ball in the end zone for the touchdown and a 28-21 Fresno lead. Lewis was credited with his third sack of the year on the play.The Bulldogs upped their lead to 31-21 on a 31-yard field goal by Quentin Breshears with 9:03 to go in the third quarter. Breshears’ ninth field goal of the year capped off a 58-yard, nine-play drive.The Wolf Pack offense gave up its third touchdown of the game to the Bulldogs defense with 8:45 to play in the third quarter. Fresno linebacker Travis Brown punched the ball away from Jefferson, picked the ball up and ran untouched into the end zone for a touchdown and a commanding 38-21 lead.The lead became even more commanding a few minutes later as the Bulldogs went 55 yards on eight plays to take a 44-21 lead with 5:41 to go in the third quarter. Rouse picked up to key first downs on third-down runs to keep the drive alive and then did the honors on the 1-yard touchdown, jumping over the Pack defense and into the end zone.The Pack scored a pair of consolation touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first was with 13:59 to go on an 11-yard pass from Fajardo to Nick Hale that cut Fresno‘s lead to 44-28. The second was with 5:42 to go on a 1-yard touchdown by Anthony Knight. Knight’s touchdown, the first of his career, and a 2-point conversion pass from Fajardo to Brandon Wimberly, sliced Fresno’s lead to 52-36.The Bulldogs, though, put the game away earlier in the fourth quarter on a Pack-breaking 39-yard touchdown run by Rouse with 10:09 to play. Rouse, who now has nine 100-yard games this season, broke five tackles along the way for his second touchdown of the game. Carr then flipped a pass to running back Michael Harris for the 2-point conversion and a 52-28 Bulldogs lead.The Wolf Pack will play at New Mexico on Saturday while Fresno State gets a week off before hosting Air Force on Nov. 24.