Fresno State falls to New Mexico, 49-39 in Las Vegas

Bulldog Sports

New Mexico quarterback Isaiah Chavez (13) runs by Fresno State defensive back Reggie Strong (7) for a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The Fresno State football team let a couple of ten-point leads get away, and fell 49-39 to New Mexico Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

With the loss, the Bulldogs finish the regular season at 3-3 overall, but on a two-game losing streak, after also falling to Nevada last week.

After losing their first five games, the Lobos finished the regular season with two straight wins.

The Bulldogs led 24-14 in the second quarter and 31-21 in the third quarter, but New Mexico responded with 28 unanswered points over about 17 minutes of game action to pull away late.

Fresno State’s defense really struggled to stop the Lobos, who were starting a true freshman at quarterback, Isaiah Chavez. He began the year fifth on the team’s depth chart.

The Lobos amassed 495 total yards, which included 299 rushing yards. Chavez had 95 yards on the ground and a rushing score, and also threw for 196 yards and a touchdown.

Junior running back Bobby Cole rushed for a game-high 138 yards and also scored three times.

Fresno State junior quarterback Jake Haener had another solid statistical night. He threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran for a touchdown, but he was also pressured all night by the Lobos and sacked eight times.

Haener’s main target was wide receiver Jalen Cropper, who had a team-high 12 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown.

San Joaquin Memorial alum Josh Kelly added seven receptions for 96 yards. Fellow Memorial alum, Mac Dalena, a true freshman, had 4 catches for 88 yards and his first career Bulldog touchdown.

Fresno State senior running back Ronnie Rivers, who left last week’s game against Nevada with a lower body injury, went through pregame warmups but did not start. Rivers did appear briefly in the third quarter, with Fresno State inside the Lobos’ 5-yard line. He rushed one time for minus-one yard, before Haener faked it to him and scored an easy 3-yard touchdown on the next play.

Rivers entered Saturday’s game with 44 career touchdowns, tied with Anthony Daigle for the top spot on the school’s all-time list.

In Rivers’ place, junior Jordan Mims got the start, and he finished with 85 yards on three carries. Most of those yards came on an 84-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, the 10th-longest run in program history.

With Rivers on the sideline, sophomore Jevon Bigelow (Central HS) got his first extended playing time of the season, rushing for 38 yards on eight carries.

All FBS teams are eligible for bowl games this season, but bowl cancellations have reduced the number of spots that are open to Mountain West teams; a bowl invitation for 3-3 Fresno State seems unlikely.

There were also some whispers earlier this week that the Bulldogs could look to add another regular season game next Saturday (Dec. 19), but head coach Kalen DeBoer’s postgame tone seemed to indicate that scenario is unlikely as well.

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