There was something different about the atmosphere at Bulldog Stadium last night. The valley smog hung in the air while the stadium lights burned through. The Bulldogs looked more energetic than they had the week before. The coaches, fully aware of the criticism they'd received in the weeks prior gave San Jose State a heavy dose of Marteze Waller, giving him a season high 22 carries in the first quarter in a half, before he left the game with a shoulder injury. Waller set the tone though with 145 yards and a touchdown. The Fresno State coaches did not waver in their strategy even without Waller, and Josh Quezada rushed for 112 yards on 24 carries after Waller left the game.
But the highlight of the night came during a series of defensive plays late in the second quarter. The first occurred after a Chad Olsen touchdown to tie the game 14-14 with 2:57 seconds to go in the first half when the stadium got so loud San Jose State was called for two consecutive false start penalties and were forced to call a timeout on third down. They were forced to punt after three incompletions, two penalties and timeout to save a delay of game penalty.
The momentum from the defensive stop and the energy of the crowd propelled the offense to a quick score when Brian Burrell took the Bulldogs 30 yards in two plays capped by a 18-yard TD pass to Josh Harper, his first of two on the night.
And that's when the magic happened. With the stadium buzzing with excitement, San Jose State had the ball on their own 25 with 1:50 left in the first half, down 21-14. With the crowd on their feet, Tyler Ervin was tackled for a three yard loss by Kyrie Wilson to make it 2nd and 13. On the next play Gray threw an incomplete pass to Shane Smith and then came another third down, this on 3rd and 13.
With the crowd on their feet screaming at the top of their lungs, somebody, possibly in the band or in the student section that must of planned this, raised their phone with the flashlight on and in a matter of seconds thousands of phone lights were shinning in the stands. It's something I've seen at concerts in big arenas sure, but on third down at a football game? It was unique. It was special and Fresno State got the stop. The very next play with the crowd still standing, screaming and shining their lights, Da'Mari Scott blocked the punt and T.J. Thomas recovered and ran the ball in for a 9-yard score.
Fresno State took the lead into halftime up 28-14. Though the battery life of the flashlight phones may have waned in the second half, with steady play by Burrell, the defense, and an inspired running game by Quezada filling in for an injured Waller, along with some big catches by Olsen and Harper, the Bulldogs were able to finish off the Spartans with 38-24 victory. They improved their record to 4-6 and collected the "V" trophy representing the Valley rivalry between the two schools. The Spartans fell to 3-6.
When asked about the impromptu light show by the fans, Harper said, "That was tight. I don't know what that was about, but they should keep that going."