Senior Day is normally a bittersweet event for a college football team, but a shutout win for your 7th straight victory certainly makes it much sweeter. The Dogs had already locked up their place in the MW Title Game, so this game became much more about sending the Senior class out on a high note than needing to play their way in against Boise. The Cowboys had just lost their shot the week before after last-minute hijinx against the Broncos, but had the chance for John Hoyland to set the record for most kicks made. From the start of the game though, this was Fresno State’s game all night.
The first kickoff from Wyoming went short, and the Bulldogs started out on their 30 yard line. Jake Haener and Jordan Mims quickly moved the ball down the field, aided by 2 Wyo penalties, before Mims scored from 4 yards out for the first time of the evening. The game also had the return of Abe Montano, who had missed the last two games with a groin injury. Both teams would trade punts before Jake Haener would lead another touchdown drive. Jordan Mims ran the ball on the first two plays, before Jake hit Nikko Remigio and Mac Dalena to drive the ball to the red zone. Another Mims run, a catch for Jake Boust, and then Haener hit Remigio with a 6yd pass to put the Dogs back in the endzone for the 2nd time in the first quarter.
Fresno State’s special teams unit truly came to play Friday night, and they started early. Mac Dalena burst around the edge of the punt shield, and was able to deflect the kick off of his back and shoulder to set up the short field on the second scoring drive. Wyoming’s next drive though would be an all-out effort from the Dogs. Titus Swen was tackled for a 7 yard loss on the first play, then QB Andrew Peasley was sacked for another 9yd loss on 3rd down. Wyoming set up for their punt from the endzone, but Evan Williams had other plans. He came straight through the line, and blocked the punt. Fresno had the chance to recover it, but it was sent through the back of the endzone, and the Dogs tacked on another 2 points to register their first safety of the season and stretched the lead to 16-0 in the 2nd quarter.
Malik Sherrod would get in on the action next, as he took the ensuing kickoff all the way back to the 27 yard line for another short field drive. Zane Pope, Jordan Mims, and Jalen Moreno-Cropper combined to get to the 1 yard line, and Jordan Mims took the wildcat snap for his 2nd touchdown of the first half. The Senior QB made sure to spread the ball around to all of his senior playmakers as he has all year when he’s been healthy.
The rest of the first half was dominated by punting, but star defensive end David Perales was injured before the end of the 2nd quarter, and had to be helped off the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury. He was in street clothes and a walking boot after the break, and every Fresno fan hopes that it’s nothing that will keep him from playing next week against Boise. Perales has truly been the rock of this defense this year, and he would be a massive loss to the team. We all hope that it’s just a minor precaution to hold him out and put him in the boot, and not something that could damage his future NFL stock.
After the halftime break, things continued in much the same way as before. Both teams started out with punts, before Carson King pinned the Cowboys deep at their 8 yard line. Titus Swen ran for 2 yards, and then Andrew Peasley sent a pass directly into the hands of Malachi Langley, who returned it to the 4. It would take Jordan Mims only two plays to get into the endzone for the third time on the night, certainly leaving him with a Senior Night to remember. Mims scored 3 times on 10 total yard, which is a bit of an absurd line.
Mims’ last score of the night would also end the scoring in this game, but things would certainly still be interesting. Fresno State would go for it on 4th and 1 on their next drive, but Jalen Moreno-Cropper would have an incredibly uncharacteristic drop on a good pass from Jake. After another punt apiece, Peasley would throw his 2nd INT of the night, as he tried to toss a deep pass along the sideline. He just never saw Cam Lockridge coming, and he grabbed the pass out of the sky. There was a chance at a runback, but the turf monster had other plans for Cam, and he went down at the 2. This allowed Fresno St to pretty much bleed the clock out in the 4th.
Wyoming did have a final chance to get in the scoring column, and get Hoyland his record, but the coaches refused to kick the field goal. Against the defensive second team, the Cowboys did move the ball well until the redzone. They reached the 8 on 1st down, but two incomplete passes brought up 4th and 3. I’m sure there’s something to be said for trying to get a touchdown instead of the pity field goal, but when your all-world kicker is chasing a record, you have to let the kid kick the dang ball. Instead, they tried running it, and Titus Swen lost a yard to end their last drive. Logan Fife came in for the final Bulldog drive, and the celebration was on for Senior Night.
Watching this amazing class of Seniors walk off the field with tears in their eyes will always be somber, but these players know that their season is not done yet. But it is always tough knowing that it will be the last time they play in Valley Children’s Stadium in front of the Red Wave. A good number of these Seniors were on the team the last time the Dogs won a Mountain West Championship, so you know that they’re hoping to do the same to close out their careers. If Fresno can win the conference and their bowl game, their in-season turnaround will truly be the stuff of legends after starting the year 1-4.
Next up, Fresno State heads up to Boise for the 4th matchup between these two teams in the conference championship game. Also the 4th time that it will be a rematch between the two teams, which is rather interesting. This time though, the Dogs will have Jake Haener and Evan Williams, along with the rest of the coaches and players firing on all cylinders. Wyoming will await their bowl selection, as the MWC looks to send 7 programs into bowl season.