In a pivotal rivalry matchup Saturday night, the 7-1 Fresno St Bulldogs squared off against the 4-4 Boise St Broncos at Valley Children’s Stadium in the Battle For The Milk Can. In one of the Mountain West’s fiercest rivalry, Malik Sherrod almost single-handedly secured the win with almost 300 total yards and 3 touchdowns on the night as Fresno won 37-30 to move back into the driver’s seat for the Mountain West Championship Game. Let’s see a quick recap of how Fresno State secured the victory.
It did not take long for the Dogs to strike first, as Mikey Keene orchestrated a 7 play, 78 yard drive from the opening kickoff before hitting Tre Watson on a 25yd strike down the seam. They would go ahead 10-0 on their next drive on a 9 play drive before Dylan Lynch sent through a 48yd field goal.
Boise would respond with a field goal of their own on a 45yd Jonah Dalmas kick before two interceptions would derail drives. The use of the two-QB system didn’t seem to be paying many dividends, as both QBs threw interceptions. On a drive where both QBs played and threw passes, Maddux Madsen was intercepted by Phoenix Jackson after an 11 play drive that resulted in 3 more Bulldog points as Lynch sent through a 22 yard chip shot. Taylen Green would be intercepted on the next drive, this time as Alzillion Hamilton pulled down an acrobatic catch in the endzone to end the next Boise scoring threat.
After trading punts, Mikey Keene would throw an INT of his own, and the Broncos were able to find the endzone with 7 seconds left in the half after grinding out a 12 play drive before Madsen found Billy Bowens on the side of the endzone for 7 points. It looked like Boise would be grabbing the momentum going into the half, but Malik Sherrod had other ideas. Dalmas sent a skimming kick to Sherrod with the exact intent of keeping a return from happening, but Malik burst straight down the center of the coverage before running the ball back 95yds as the clock hit zero on the half. VCS erupted, and Tedford’s team scored the first kickoff return for the Dogs since AJ Jefferson against Nevada back in 2008.
Fresno would start off the second half much as they did in the first half, as they turned a Boise punt into a 14 play, 68yd drive with a brilliant one-handed catch by Josiah Freeman on the sideline and Elijah Gilliam scored from 1 yard out to stretch the lead to 17 early in the 3rd quarter. The Broncos would respond with a big play drive of their own to back in the game, as George Holani punched the ball in on 3 straight rushes from inside the Fresno St 5 to bring them back to within 10 points.
A Bulldog punt set Boise up for another scoring drive, this time a history making drive as Jonah Dalmas made his 68th successful kick, breaking the record previously held by Kyle Brotzman to open up the 4th Quarter. Fresno threatened to score on another kickoff, but Jaelen Gill was tracked down and tackled. Two Mac Dalena receptions brought the Bulldogs close, but Dylan Lynch would need to come in and send through a 24yd kick to go back up 10.
Maddux Madsen showed off some mobility on the next drive, as he scampered through Kevin Coyle’s defense for a 27yd touchdown to bring the game to its closest point, only 3 points separating the two squads. Malik Sherrod didn’t want Boise to have any hope left though, as he burst through the line on the ensuing drive to score on a 52yd dash to extinguish any hopes of an upset. Dalmas would be able to tack on one more field goal for his 69th make of his career, but the onside kick attempt scooted directly to Tre Watson, and a kneeldown sealed the result. Bulldog players rushed to the Milk Can to triumphantly lift it, and Fresno moved into sole possession of 2nd place in the conference race.
Despite the final score, there was numerous chances from Fresno St to turn this game into a blowout, as numerous passes from Boise QBs were almost intercepted, and two of the field goal drives from the Dogs ended within the 5 yard line. I don’t believe that any Bulldog fan is complaining though about a win over Boise St, and the Milk Can Trophy returns to Fresno for the first time since 2017. Tedford now moves to 4-3 against Boise State, and the team is now 5-1 in one score games this season. They’ve also won their last two home sellouts, after losing their last two against Oregon State and Boise State.
Looking ahead, Fresno State will go on the road to face San Jose State in their next trophy match, as the two square off for the Valley Trophy Saturday night. The Broncos will return home to take on New Mexico in a game that should move them closer to bowl eligibility for the 26th straight year.