Bull­dogs’ loss at Boise State wasn’t as close as fi­nal score

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY ROBERT KUWADA rkuwada@fres­nobee.com

The fi­nal score, 24-17, sounds close. In los­ing for the first time this sea­son in Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence play, though, the Fresno State Bull­dogs re­ally weren’t that close.

Even with a two-touch­down lead in the third quar­ter and with a de­fense that has been stel­lar in the sec­ond half of its con­fer­ence games, the Bull­dogs (8-2, 5-1 in the MW) were in a ten­u­ous spot. They had al­lowed just 7.2 points a game in con­fer­ence play, but were un­able to knock Boise State and its quar­ter­back Brett Ryp­ien off sched- ule or take away any­thing the Bron­cos wanted to do., early, mid­dle or late.

Boise State (8-2, 5-1) had 10 se­ries in the game and nine of them ended on the Fresno State side of the field, three in a row in the end zone in the third and fourth quar­ters.

“They moved the ball fairly ef­fec­tively most of the game,” coach Jeff Ted­ford said. “They’re a great of­fense. They do a great job. They have a lot of play­mak­ers, they ran the ball hard with a re­ally good back. Ryp­ien kind of killed us with his legs a lit­tle bit. When we had them cov­ered he pulled it down and made some plays with his legs. Give them credit. They played well and we made too many mis­takes.”

Ryp­ien crushed the Bull­dogs with his arm and a few times with his legs, and that No. 16 rank­ing in the As­so­ci­ated Press Top 25, the No. 17 rank­ing in the Coaches Poll and the No. 23 in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings all are now a foot­note.

Fresno State had not played a quar­ter­back with that level of ex­pe­ri­ence in lead­ing the con­fer­ence in pass­ing de­fense, but it had been hurt by quar­ter­backs who could make plays and move the chains us­ing their legs on de­signed runs or evad­ing pres­sure.

They couldn’t stop ei­ther facet Fri­day night.

Ryp­ien, who in the game be­came the all-time leader in the Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence in pass­ing yards and com­ple­tions, hit 24 of 29 passes for 269 yards with one touch­down and one in­ter­cep­tion. He had a streak where he com­pleted eight passes in a row early in the game and he fin­ished it hit­ting his last nine passes and 11 of the last 12. Ryp­ien also ran eight times for 30 yards, with three of those plays re­sult­ing in a first down.

The Bron­cos’ run game pounded out 179 yards with 144 of it from Alexan­der Mat­ti­son, who car­ried the ball a ca­reer-high 30 times.

Boise State had 448 yards of of­fense and it was a con­stant pres­sure. It had only three ex­plo­sive plays of 20 or more yards, in­clud­ing passes for 41 and 49 yards, the lat­ter a touch­down to Khalil Shakir that put the Bron­cos in the lead with 5:11 to go.

“That was a third-down call that we had di­aled up for a cou­ple drives, and I was beg­ging Coach (Zak) Hill to call it – I thought it was go­ing to be a good one for us,” Ryp­ien said.

“They had shown a ‘sit at the sticks’ a lot on third downs, wait­ing for any stop routes and things like that, so we had a nice lit­tle flood con­cept di­aled up where we got the safety to jump the flag and Khalil is about as fast as they come, so he was able to get over the top and all I had to do was put it on him.”

With those big plays Boise State also had nine passes and six rushes of 10 or more yards. They were 10 of 16 on third downs, con­vert­ing at a 62.5 per­cent clip, and the av­er­age yards to gain to move the sticks was just 4.6 yards.

Fresno State had not al­lowed a team to con­vert 10 or more third-down plays since a 2015 loss to Utah, the Utes go­ing 13 of 19, 68.4 per­cent.

Boise State had only three points in the first half, but it had ended drives at the Fresno State 33 with a missed field goal, the 18 with a field goal, the 43 with a punt, the 13 with a fake field goal at­tempt that was blown up by the Bull­dogs and at the 26 with an in­ter­cep­tion in the end zone by Bull­dogs safety Juju Hughes.

“We knew we were mov­ing the ball on them,” Ryp­ien said. “I didn’t feel they were stop­ping us at any point. … I just told the guys in the locker room that they hadn’t re­ally stopped us. I felt like we were play­ing well for the most part and just needed to fin­ish drives, and we were able to do that.”

KYLE GREEN kgreen@ida­hostates­man.com

Boise State wide re­ceiver Khalil Shakir catches a 49-yard touch­down over Fresno State de­fen­sive back Mike Bell dur­ing the game at Al­bert­sons Sta­dium on Fri­day night. Boise State de­feated the Bull­dogs 24-17.

DARIN OSWALD doswald@ida­hostates­man.com

Boise State run­ning back Alexan­der Mat­ti­son (22) leaps to avoid Fresno State de­fen­sive back An­thoula Kelly (6) but hits Fresno State de­fen­sive back Mike Bell (4) midair in the sec­ond quar­ter Fri­day, Nov. 9, 2018 at Al­bert­sons Sta­dium in Boise.

KYLE GREEN kgreen@ida­hostates­man.com

Boise State run­ning back Alexan­der Mat­ti­son (22) gets tripped up by Fresno State safety Mike Bell (4) in a 24-17 vic­tory over the Bull­dogs at Al­bert­sons Sta­dium on Fri­day night. Mat­ti­son rushed for 144 yards.

KYLE GREEN kgreen@ida­hostates­man.com

Boise State linebacker Jabril Fra­zier (8) pres­sures Fresno State quar­ter­back Mar­cus McMaryion on Fri­day night at Al­bert­sons Sta­dium. Boise State won 24-17.

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