FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Fresno State football team began the 2021 season with a statement win over UConn. Behind 331 passing yards from quarterback Jake Haener and a record-setting day from running back Ronnie Rivers, the Bulldogs defeated the Huskies, 45-0, in front of an announced crowd of 26,043 people at Bulldog Stadium.
Fresno State’s offense got off to a slow start, managing just 28 total yards in the first quarter. Haener and company got rolling in the second quarter, with No. 9 connecting with Ty Jones on a nine-yard touchdown, Rivers on a 61-yard touchdown and Jalen Cropper on an 86-yard touchdown.
The score was 31-0 at halftime.
“Uh, yeah, it was just a play that we run that gets me out in space and running off some backers,” said Rivers, who became Fresno State’s career leader in touchdowns on that play. “Jake threw a great ball to keep me away from that safety, and just break a tackle and get to the end zone. So it was just an overwhelming feeling, a great accomplishment. And none of this could be accomplished without my teammates, so all the props and all the glory goes to them, really.”
Fresno State held UConn (0-1) to just 107 total yards in this game. It was the first-ever morning kickoff in Bulldog Stadium history and it was HOT on the field: the temperature of the turf reached 154 degrees!
“The cramping, certainly, it was hard to have a rhythm,” said Fresno State head football coach Kalen DeBoer. “Especially on offense, because it seemed like they would have a defensive player cramping and then we would have an offensive lineman. And then the same defensive player on their side, and then a couple offensive line. It was back-and-forth, it was almost like there was a two minute intermission between every play we were running.”
Jake Haener was one of the players who had to leave the field due to cramping. The Bulldogs’ quarterback was taken out of the game early in the third quarter. Before he left, he had completed 20 of his 26 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns.