The Fresno State football team rocked Nevada Saturday to end the Bulldogs’ four-year losing streak to the Wolf Pack.
“To lose to these guys four years in a row and come out and beat them on their own home turf, to know what we’re playing for, it feels great,” safety Phillip Thomas said. “The excitement in the locker room is at its peak.”
Fresno State (8-3, 6-1) is tied with San Diego State (8-3, 6-1) for first place in the Mountain West Conference after the 52-36 victory Saturday at Mackay Stadium.
The Bulldogs beat the Aztecs 52-40 earlier this season.
Boise State (8-2, 5-1) could also get a share of the title with games against Colorado State and Nevada remaining. Fresno State lost to Boise 20-10 last month.
“We came here [with] a mission,” head coach Tim DeRuyter said. “We wanted to win one more game so we have a chance to win a league championship. We haven’t done that in a long time. And we’re one game away.”
Fresno State’s defense played a crucial role in helping the Bulldogs pull away from the Wolf Pack, going into the third quarter tied at 21.
Bulldog defense forced three turnovers in the third quarter and scored two touchdowns on these forced fumbles.
Linebacker Donavon Lewis forced one fumble that was recovered in the end zone by Tyler Davison and linebacker Travis Brown stripped the ball from Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson and returned the ball 26 yards for the score.
With a total of four turnovers in the game, the Bulldogs reached DeRuyter’s goal of 30 turnovers for the season.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all year: getting turnovers,” safety Derron Smith said. “We know we still have one more game to go but I felt like this was a big hurdle.”
In addition, Thomas set a Mountain West record by making his eighth interception of the season.
Running back Robbie Rouse had 36 carries and two touchdowns, running for a season-high 261 yards and redshirt freshman Davante Adams caught nine passes for 120 yards and scored a touchdown.
Bulldogs quarterback Derek Carr went 17-of-35 for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bulldogs had 500 total yards and allowed the Wolf Pack 404.
Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo went 21-of-39 for 214 yards and one touchdown. Fajardo had two interceptions and was sacked three times by the aggressive Bulldog defense.
“Turnovers are a big deal in the win-loss column,” Smith said. “If you have a winning record, most of the time you are getting turnovers. We know we still have one more game to go, but we felt like this was a big hurdle.
“We haven’t always played great on the road, so it felt good to get a great road win.”
Fresno State will get at least a share of the conference title with a win over Air Force (5-5, 4-2) Nov. 24. This would be the first conference title the Bulldogs could claim since the three-way tie for the Western Athletic Conference championship in 1999.