5) 69-14 win vs Colorado
There was no better 60 minutes to explain the greatness at Fresno State from 2012 to 2013 under Tim DeRuyter than the Bulldogs’ 69-14 thumping of Colorado. Derek Carr threw for 500 yards and five touchdowns, Robbie Rouse scored four touchdowns in part of a record-breaking day, Marteze Waller found the end zone, receivers Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper all scored touchdowns, Phillip Thomas had three interceptions and two scores and Derron Smith added an interception of his own.
It was one of the hottest days for a game at Bulldog Stadium, but it was one of the best experiences led by Tim DeRuyter over the last five years. While there was belief that all of the players listed above could become all-stars, we hadn’t seen a performance like that until this third game of the 2012 season.
This served as the launching point for the team’s success over the two-year period, Fresno State defensive lineman Nikko Motta told us at BarkBoard.com recently.
“They had guys and they were big, they weren’t a powerhouse by any means, but it was still a Pac-12 school that had respect,” Motta explained. “We came out just blazing - Robbie is breaking records, Derek is throwing bombs, we’re getting sacks - it was crazy! I thought, we’re legit and we could be something special. That’s when it clicked for me, that we could do some stuff. Not just that it was Pac-12 and Colorado, but it was just how we got after them and I don’t think we ever looked back.”
But the ultimate experience that day was when Robbie Rouse became Fresno State’s all-time rushing record. Here it is from his own eyes:
“How I broke the record was something you dream of,” Rouse told BarkBoard.com in a recent interview. “I could have never told you I would break the record on a 95-yard touchdown run. Usually you break a record on a two-yard run and get tackled… That was definitely one of my best individual experience ever, besides us winning the Mountain West Championship, that was just crazy.
“I remember a cutback, I seen Josh Harper seal off a block, and I’m running and I see Davante Adams running with me. Then my teammates met me in the end zone. Marcel Jensen was socking me in the chest, I had to tell him to stop because I already couldn’t breath after this long touchdown run. I’m telling him, ‘‘Cel, calm down man - you’re hitting me a little too hard.’
“Coach DeRuyter had told me previous to the game, ‘Robbie, we’re not going to stop the game (when you break the record) because we just want to keep going.’ I respected that, but we ended up getting a penalty, the crowd was chanting my name, it was one of those experiences that you can never have back. It was a great experience.”
4) Mountain West Championship Game: 24-17 win vs Utah State
The momentum of an undefeated season was sucked away by an upset loss at San Jose State the week before. The Bulldogs and the Red Wave alike had to pick themselves up to see the season end with at least the accomplishment of being a conference champion.
“We still had a chance to finish as one of the best teams ever at Fresno State or you could hang your heads and not win the championship,” Motta explained as the team’s mentality. “The last year we had a three-way tie and we wanted to go out and win our own, win it for us, win for everyone in this town, it was time to win a championship and win it outright.”
It was a bittersweet night, but a one-of-a-kind moment in Bulldog Stadium. The game was specially televised on CBS with a skycam flying over the field throughout the broadcast. Only 31,362 fans showed, but the majority of them (wearing black attire) found themselves on the turf after the game with Carr, DeRuyter and company hoisting the championship trophy.
On the field, Fresno State’s defense put on an honorable performance holding Utah State to just 17 points. The offense didn’t have its best game against a strong Aggie defense, but the game never felt like it was in doubt.
“We had a big talk with the defense and made it clear it was our fault we lost [the previous week] and there was nobody to point the finger at but us. We prepared that week like the way we should have prepared for San Jose, do-or-die, and we came out and really put it on Utah State.”
It wasn’t the perfect 12-0 season, but the post-game moments will remain one of the best memories ever in Bulldog Stadium.
3) 48-15 win vs Air Force to clinch share of 2012 MW Championship
Though strange to say, the 2013 Mountain West Championship felt like a consolation prize while the 2012 three-way tie for the trophy felt like an unimaginable accomplishment.
Fresno State jumped out to a 21-0 lead on Air Force that included two Derek Carr long-balls and even a touchdown pass from Robbie Rouse to Marcel Jensen. The lead grew all the way to 45-7 by the start of the fourth quarter. It wasn’t a sell-out, but a well-attended game and a proper send off for seniors like Robbie Rouse and Phillip Thomas who would not get to be a part of the 2013 run.
The victory clinched a share of the Mountain West Championship, shared with Boise State and San Diego State. The game concluded with the team receiving championship hats on the field.
“The best part of my senior year was probably, I would have to say us winning the Mountain West Championship,” Rouse told BarkBoard.com. “The fact that it was senior day, my family walked me out, my girlfriend walked me out, it was just a great experience. It was just a great day. The family was there, the fans were showing me love because they knew I would never play another game in that stadium again. For us to get that win and after the game, you always see on tv they give you the shirts and the hats and then you get the trophy, that was just a great experience.”
2) 52-51 (OT) win vs Rutgers
All the hopes of a big 2013 season for the Fresno State Bulldogs were put on the line on a hot Thursday night when Rutgers came to Bulldog Stadium to open the season.
The Scarlet Knights gave Fresno State everything they could handle. The Bulldogs fell to an early 20-7 deficit, but the two teams were just getting started.
A Fresno State field goal made it 38-38 in the final minutes of regulation. Rutgers broke that tie with 1:18 remaining on a touchdown pass, but Derek Carr was able to answer in four plays to force overtime.
As midnight approached, overtime took only five snaps to complete. Derek carr completed the first play as a 25-yard touchdown to Greg Watson. Rutgers answered in three plays, but the Bulldogs stopped a two-point conversion attempt as the team rushed the field.
“We were going back and forth hitting big plays,” Motta recently told BarkBoard.com. “It was a dogfight. Whoever wasn’t going to flinch was going to win that game and we made the play at the end on the two-point conversion Charles Washington made a hell of a play. I just remember running on the field like we won the super bowl. That’s kind of what jumpstarted our whole season.”
The win had the Red Wave riding high, and the table set for a magical year.
Rouse told us, “I was in Maryland at the time, and they played Rutgers. I was up until about two or three in the morning because they went into morning. Two or three in the morning! I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ When they won that game, I knew it was going to be a special year because great teams when games like that.”
1) 41-40 win vs Boise State
Let’s face it, there was nothing sweeter than defeating Boise State. The win got the blue monkey off the back of Fresno State, the Carr family and all former Bulldogs who endured Bronco beatings over the years. If the Bulldogs didn't pull it off in 2013, we may have had to wait for the next generation of Carrs to finish the narrative.
The Bulldogs hosted Boise State just two games after hosting Rutgers, with a return trip to Colorado canceled in between. Boise State also served as the second hurdle to a schedule that looked like clear sailing afterword. This night did not disappoint.
Fresno State was able to break away from the back-and-forth action of this shootout, building a 34-19 lead late in the third quarter. Less than nine minutes later, Boise State capped off 21 unanswered points, leaving the Bulldogs with seven minutes of regulation to answer.
“We gave up a touchdown for them to go ahead,” Motta said. “Derek looks at me and says, 'I got this.' When he said that and looked at me in my eyes - I was coming off the field with my head down, I thought, ‘Damn, I should have known that we’ve got No. 4 and we’re never out of a game with that guy.'"
Derek Carr and the Fresno State offense came up with one of their best drives in the entire two-year stretch, going 87 yards in 13 plays lasting over four minutes, capped with a touchdown run by Josh Quezada. Boise State had one last chance to play the role of spoiler once again, but the Bulldogs forced a turnover on downs in the final minute.
The weight lifted from the Bulldogs and Red Wave alike as the magical 2013 year kept rolling.
“I went crazy,” Rouse said. “I wanted to be there. When they beat Boise, that took a lift off my chest, even though I didn’t play and I had the opportunity to beat Boise on the field - But as an alumni, to see us beat Boise, it was a lift off my chest and an accomplish.”
- Marcel Jensen’s game-saving field goal block at San Diego State in 2013
- 52-40 shootout win over SDSU in 2012
- 40-20 win at Nevada in part of the Bulldogs’ 2014 rebound from a 3-6 record to 6-6 and a conference championship appearance.
- Isaiah Burse’s two touchdown returns and Austin Wentworth’s touchdown reception as an offensive lineman versus Cal Poly in 2013.
- Rain storm in final minutes as Fresno State holds onto win versus UNLV (2015).
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