SAN JOSE - The Fresno State football team regained control of the Valley Trophy on Saturday evening with a 27-10 victory at San Jose State, topping the Spartans behind three first-half touchdowns, and a stifling defense that allowed just 205 yards and forced four turnovers.
"It's always nice to come away with a victory," said head coach Jeff Tedford. "We can get a lot better, but it's great to bring the trophy home. That's something we talked all week about, and we take pride in that."
While the defense laid the foundation, Fresno State's (3-2, 2-0 MW) running game paved the way offensively. Freshman running back Ronnie Rivers had a season-high 19 carries for a season-best 105 yards and added two rushing scores. Fellow freshman running back Jordan Mims added 12 carries for 49 yards and sophomore Josh Hokit rushed 10 times for 43 yards as the 'Dogs tallied a season-high 212 yards on the ground.
Junior quarterback Marcus McMaryion, making his second-straight start, finished 15-of-26 through the air for 136 yards, spreading the ball around to four receivers. Junior KeeSean Johnson had a team-high 52 yards on two receptions, including a 45-yard gain in the first quarter, while senior Da'Mari Scott matched his season-high with seven receptions for 45 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore defensive back Juju Hughes filled up the stat sheet finishing with six tackles (four solo) and added two tackles for loss, a sack, interception and a forced fumble. Senior defensive tackle Malik Forrester added six tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and forced a fumble as he wreaked havoc on the Spartan offense all night. Sophomore linebacker Jeffrey Allison had a team-high nine tackles, five solo, and a tackle for loss.
How It Happened
The Bulldog defense came out tough from the start of the game, forcing two turnovers in the first nine minutes of action as sophomore defensive back Jaron Bryant and Hughes each picked off passes from Spartan quarterback Josh Love. The first scoring drive for the 'Dogs started at their 44-yard line as the they put together a 14-play, 56-yard drive, capped by a Rivers' 15-yard rush, that took 6:03 off the clock.
With the Spartans getting the ball back, Hughes picked off a Love third-down pass for his first career interception. The Bulldogs took over at their own 47-yard line, and after a 10-yard run by Rivers and a five-yard rush by Mims, McMaryion connected with Johnson down the middle of the field for a 45-yard gain down to the SJSU 8-yard line. Three plays later, Rivers rushed for his second score of the game with a three-yard plunge up the middle to put Fresno State in front 14-0.
Holding a 152-44 advantage in yards and holding the ball for over 10 minutes after the first quarter, the 'Dogs continued to pound the rock in the second quarter putting together a season-long 17-play, 80-yard drive that ran 8:04 off the game clock. Running the ball 15 times on the drive, Rivers rushed five times for 39 yards and Mims carried it five times for 23 yards as the drive ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Hokit.
With the 'Dogs holding its opponent scoreless in the first half for a second time this season, Fresno State held a 285-79 advantage in yards in the first half. The Spartans got on the scoreboard in the third quarter capitalizing on its best starting field position of the game, starting at the Bulldogs' 49-yard line as SJSU put together a nine-play drive that finished with a six-yard pass from Love to Josh Oliver.
Senior Jimmy Camacho extended the Bulldogs' lead to 24-7 lead with a 38-yard field goal with 13:40 to play in the fourth quarter. The Spartans' Bryce Crawford nailed a 51-yard field goal to bring it back within a two possession game, but after a short kickoff was recovered by the 'Dogs at the SJSU 38-yard line, the 'Dogs gained five yards before Camacho hit a career-long 50 yard field goal to complete the scoring for the Bulldogs.
- Fresno State returns claimed the Valley Trophy for the second time (2014) after the schools created the traveling trophy in 2013.
- The Bulldogs improved to 41-37-3 all-time against the Spartans and won for the first time in San Jose since 2010.
- Fresno State improved to 2-0 in Mountain West play for the first time since 2014, and for the third time since joining the MW in 2012.
- KeeSean Johnson extended his consecutive games with a reception to 27 games.
- Ronnie Rivers went for 105 yards on the ground to become the first Bulldog to go over the century mark rushing since Oct. 8, 2016 (Dontel James, 169 yards).
- The last time the 'Dogs had four turnovers was on Nov. 14, 2015 at Hawai'i.
- Fresno State rushed for over 200 yards as a team for the first time this season.
- The 205 yards allowed by the Bulldogs were the fewest for an FBS opponent since Nov. 15, 2008 in a 24-17 win against New Mexico State.
- It was the third game since 2011 that the 'Dogs have had time of possession greater than 37 minutes. The 'Dogs held the ball for 37:01 on Saturday.
- The Bulldogs now have 11 turnovers, surpassing the 2016 season total of nine.
The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday for Homecoming, hosting New Mexico (3-2, 1-1 MW) at 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium.