FRESNO - The Jeff Tedford era opened in style on Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium as the 'Dogs blanked Incarnate Word 66-0 behind 613 yards of offense in front of 39,447. On a night that saw legendary Bulldog quarterback Derek Carr have his No. 4 jersey retired in a halftime ceremony, the Bulldogs offense flashed back to Carr's Senior Night scoring the most points in a game since November 23, 2013 when they piled on 69 in a 41-point win over New Mexico.
Saturday's shutout was the first pitched by the Bulldogs since September 5, 2009 (vs. UC Davis). The 'Dogs held Incarnate Word to 125 yards of offense on the night, including negative 30 yards rushing for a new Bulldog Stadium record for fewest rushing yards by an opponent. UIW had 60 yards after three quarters of play.
Sophomore quarterback Chason Virgil went 16-for-29 through the air for 246 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver KeeSean Johnson posted his second career 100-yard contest totaling 120 yards on seven receptions while true freshman Ronnie Rivers, the first 'Dog to start at running back since 1980, added 60 yards on nine carries and a TD.
Sophomore Josh Hokit accounted for three scores, running for two and tossing one on a halfback pass. Junior transfer Marcus McMaryion completed 6-of-7 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns, entering in the third quarter.
The defense was led by junior Tank Kelly's six tackles and a standout night by junior transfer Emeka Ndoh who posted two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
After stalling on the opening offensive drive, the 'Dogs defense went to work right away forcing a turnover on a 3rd-and-14 as junior defensive end Emeka Ndoh striped UIW quarterback Taylor Laird of the ball and recovered the ball.
On the ensuing drive, the 'Dogs put together a six-play, 43-yard drive that spanned 2:32 on the clock as a 1-yard touchdown plunge from Hokit gave Fresno State its first score of 2017.
After the 'Dogs forced a three-and-out on the Cardinals next possession, junior running back Dejonte O'Neal broke off a career-long 44-yard punt return down to the UIW 17. With three plays only netting four yards on offense, senior kicker Jimmy Camacho converted a 30-yard field to put the Bulldogs up 10-0.
On Fresno State's next possession after forcing a three-and-out, Hokit increased the score to 17-0 on a 65-yard halfback pass as he connected with sophomore tight end Jared Rice who was streaking down the left side of the field wide open for a 65-yard score. Hokit's touchdown throw was the first touchdown thrown by a non-quarterback since Robbie Rouse in 2012 – a 1-yard throw on Nov. 24 vs Air Force.
The scoring continued in the second quarter as the 'Dogs hit their second field goal of the night as Camacho nailed a career-long 47-yard field goal to put Fresno State ahead 20-0.
The offensive fireworks continued as the Bulldogs put up two more touchdowns in the second quarter as Hokit punched in his second touchdown of the game, a 4-yard run and after an eighth straight three-and-out. A 2-yard toss from Virgil to junior tight end Kyle Riddering, his first career score, put the 'Dogs in control 34-0.
After gaining 361 yards of offense in the first half, the 'Dogs continued to pile up the yards in the second half picking up a pair of safeties with a 30-yard run from true freshman Rivers sandwiched in between to put the Bulldogs out front 45-0.
The 'Dogs added three more touchdowns in the third quarter, including a pair of scoring tosses from McMaryion, and the first touchdown run from freshman running back Jordan Mims pushed the 'Dogs lead to 66-0 after three quarters. It was the most points scored by Fresno State in a season opener since 1988 when they tacked on 68 against New Mexico.
All Photos by Jack W Porter, Jr.