Dec. 8, 2013
FRESNO, Calif. - Utah State forced four turnovers and recovered an on-side kick in an attempt to win the inaugural Mountain West Football Championship game here Saturday night, but fell to 24th-ranked Fresno State, 24-17.
Utah State trailed 24-7 early in the fourth quarter before scoring 10 points in 2:55 to get within one score at 24-17 and was driving inside the Bulldogs' 40-yardline in the final minute before getting intercepted at the FS 8-yardline to end the game.
Utah State had its five-game winning streak snapped with the loss and is now 8-5 on the season. USU also fell to 2-50 all-time against ranked teams, including a 1-40 road record. Fresno State improved to 11-1 with the win.
Junior wide receiver Ronald Butler led Utah State as he had a career-high five receptions for a career-best 145 yards, while senior wide receiver Travis Van Leeuwen tied his career-high with six receptions for 52 yards and sophomore wide receiver Bruce Natson had four receptions for 50 yards, to go along with two rushes for 11 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run.
Senior running back Joey DeMartino finished the game with 54 yards on 18 carries, while freshman quarterback Darell Garretson was 12-of-26 passing for 198 yards with one interception and junior quarterback Craig Harrison was 4-of-9 passing for 55 yards and one interception.
Derek Carr led Fresno State as he was 36-of-53 passing for 404 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, while Isaiah Burse had 17 receptions for 132 yards and one touchdown, and Davante Adams added nine receptions for 168 yards with another score.
Utah State finished the game with 304 yards of total offense as it had 253 yards passing and a season-low 51 yards rushing. Fresno State had 460 yards of total offense with 404 passing and 56 rushing.
Senior linebacker Jake Doughty led Utah State's defense with 10 tackles for his ninth double-digit tackle outing this year and the 13th of his career. Doughty also had 0.5 tackles for loss and recovered his second career fumble that he returned 86 yards for a touchdown. Junior safety Brian Suite added nine tackles and a career-high two interceptions to give him four interceptions on the season and five in his career.
Fresno State scored the first 17 points of the game as it converted a 30-yard field goal with 8:36 to play in the first quarter, followed by a pair of touchdown passes from Carr in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a 17-0 lead with 7:17 to play in the half.
Utah State had two chances to score early in the second quarter, but threw an interception in the end zone and missed a 42-yard field.
The Bulldogs appeared ready to add another touchdown right before the half, but fumbled the ball in the red zone and Doughty returned it 86 yards for his first career touchdown with 0:03 to play in the half.
Utah State's defense continued to create turnovers in the third quarter with interceptions by Suite on back-to-back Bulldog possessions, but USU was unable to convert those into any points.
Fresno State scored its only points of the second-half late in the third quarter on another Carr touchdown pass to give the home team a 24-7 advantage with 1:33 remaining in the quarter.
Utah State's offense finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run by Natson to cap a 13-play, 78-yard drive. USU senior placekicker Josh Thompson then successfully executed an on-side kick that was recovered by redshirt freshman linebacker Nick Vigi at the Fresno State 45. The Aggies then drove the ball down to the FS 3-yardline before settling for a 20-yard field goal from junior placekicker Nick Diaz.
After that, Utah State's defense forced the Bulldogs to turn the ball over on downs twice in the final 4:00, but was unable to score the tying touchdown.
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