It was a heartbreaking home opener for the Bulldogs Saturday night, as the Fresno State football team lost to Minnesota 38-35 in double overtime.
The Bulldogs had a chance to win it with a touchdown in the second overtime, but Jorge Reyna’s pass for tight end Cam Sutton in the end zone was intercepted by Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr., giving the Gophers their second dramatic victory over the Bulldogs in as many years. In 2018, Winfield intercepted a halfback pass from Josh Hokit in a similar way to seal that 21-14 win.
It was also the second week in a row that Reyna has been intercepted in the end zone at a critical juncture, as he suffered a similar fate last Saturday against USC.
The Golden Gophers got the scoring started early. They took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards in 11 plays, a drive that culminated with a Tanner Morgan to Rashod Bateman 15 yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0.
The Bulldogs would get a little closer early in the second quarter, when an 8-play, 32-yard drive resulted in a 48-yard field goal from placekicker Cesar Silva. That cut the Gophers lead to 7-3.
Minnesota extended the lead to 14-3 later in the second quarter, when Rodney Smith finished off a 65-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Bulldogs got a big break on their next drive, as a dead-ball facemask penalty on Minnesota extended the drive, and they took advantage. A short time after that critical penalty, Jorge Reyna found Ronnie Rivers on a 25-yard touchdown pass.
In the third quarter, after opening the second half scoring with a field goal to make it 14-13, Fresno State got a Jorge Reyna to Jared Rice touchdown pass to take the lead. The Bulldogs then followed up that touchdown with a 2-point conversion on a trick play to Josh Hokit to make the lead 21-14.
Early in the 4th quarter though, Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim finished off a 15-play, 78-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run, which evened the score at 21.
The Bulldogs got another big break a little later, when the Gophers muffed a punt and the Bulldogs recovered. Six plays later, Jorge Reyna scored on a quarterback draw from the 2-yard line, and the Bulldogs had a 28-21 lead with just over five minutes left.
The Golden Gophers responded with a long drive that was punctuated by a spectacular 20-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone on 4th-and-13 by Chris Autman-Bell, where he somehow got one foot in-bounds. That touchdown tied the game at 28, and the two teams would go to overtime tied at that score.
After both teams exchanged touchdowns in the first overtime, the Gophers got a field goal on the first possession of the second overtime, which proceeded the game-clinching play from Winfield when the Bulldogs got their possession.
Here’s some thoughts from head coach Jeff Tedford postgame.
The 0-2 Bulldogs now have a week off before returning to Bulldog Stadium to host Sacramento State on Sept. 21.
Just a reminder, full highlights and more postgame reaction coming Sunday night on the Bulldog Insider on KSEE24.