BOISE, Idaho. (KSEE/KGPE) – Do you remember when the Fresno State football team was 1-4? That was back on October 8th, right after the Bulldogs lost to Boise State at Albertsons Stadium.
On Saturday, Fresno State was back at Albertsons Stadium after a seven-game winning streak that put the Bulldogs in the Mountain West championship game. Their opponent was Boise State, and Fresno State won the rematch.
The Bulldogs leave Boise with their second conference championship trophy in four years.
“This is the golden boy of the conference, one of the premier teams in the conference,” said senior quarterback Jake Haener, who passed for 184 yards and one touchdown in the 28-16 win over the Broncos. “And to come up here against one of our biggest rivals, if not our biggest rival in the conference, yeah it definitely means more.”
The game got off to a slow start.
There were no points scored in the first quarter. And, by the way, David Perales did suit up for the Bulldogs on Saturday. The senior defensive end did not play much, still obviously feeling the effects of the ankle injury he suffered last week against Wyoming.
Boise State scored first in the second quarter, a 26-yard field goal from Jonah Dalmas, one of three made field goals for him in this game. Dalmas accounted for more than half of Boise State’s points in the game.
Late in the second quarter, with the Bulldogs trailing 3-0, they get on the board with a special teams touchdown. Nikko Remigio returned a punt 70 yards for a 7-3 Fresno State lead. It was Remigio’s second punt return for a touchdown this season.
Fresno State would score again before the half, first getting the ball back thanks to the first of two interceptions in the game by Cam Lockridge. That led to the first of two Jordan Mims rushing touchdowns.
Mims had 83 rushing yards on 25 carries on Saturday.
In the third quarter, Fresno State is up 14-9 and with the ball, when the Bulldogs are forced to punt. The Broncos are called for roughing the punter, which gives Fresno State a first down.
The Bulldogs take advantage.
Jake Haener finds Zane Pope over the middle for a 22-yard touchdown, and Fresno State has a 21-9 lead.
After Lockridge’s second interception, the Bulldogs would score again on a three-yard touchdown run from Mims. That put Fresno State up 28-9, and the Bulldogs would go on to win, 28-16.
“I think it starts with defense,” said Haener. “The defense puts you in good positions and we gotta finish our job and then score, score touchdowns in the red zone.”
Added senior defensive back Evan Williams, “I mean, we dealt with adversity as a group, starting off 1-4. It’s easy to come out and do the same thing, put in the work when it’s paying off and you’re seeing results. But it’s tough to come out the week after a 1-4 record and say, ‘keep doing the same stuff.'”
From 1-4 to 9-4, Fresno State not only won a conference championship on Saturday, it extended its winning streak to eight games.
“Really proud of our kids, obviously, and our coaching staff who have done a great job all year long,” said head coach Jeff Tedford. “We have come a long way since the first part of the year where a lot of people probably didn’t believe in us, but the kids in the locker room did and the staff did. Nothing more fitting to end it like we did tonight.”
Wide receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper came into the game needing 16 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the season; he reached that milestone. And Nikko Remigio finished with 207 all-purpose yards.