Fresno State vs. Minnesota: Offense Falters in 21-14 Loss
The Fresno State Bulldogs defense couldn’t hold up as the offense struggled in a close loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The Bulldogs were frustrated early and often.
Fresno State did not look fully like themselves on Saturday night, as offensive struggles outweighed a valiant defensive effort and the Bulldogs left Minnesota with a frustrating 21-14 loss to the Golden Gophers.
The defense held Minnesota to 4.51 yards per play and 5-of-15 on third down conversions. Linebacker Jeffrey Allison led the team with 15 tackles, while cornerback Anthoula Kelly provided the big highlight with a critical forced fumble in the third quarter.
Gophers quarterback Zach Annexstad finished 16-of-26 for 175 yards, while the tandem of Bryce Williams and Seth Green, who replaced an injured Rodney Smith early in the first half, combined for 117 yards on 36 carries. Rashod Bateman led Minnesota with five catches for 78 yards. The Gophers had some success attacking the ‘Dogs between the tackles, though their longest run was just 11 yards.
Marcus McMaryion threw two second-half touchdowns, including a catch-and-run by Keesean Johnson that briefly put the Bulldogs ahead in the fourth quarter:
His game, though, like the rest of the offense, was marred by inconsistency. The senior quarterback finished 23-of-32 for 205 yards, but he missed multiple open receivers and threw a bad interception in the first half.
It also didn’t help that the offensive line lost its most important piece, left tackle Netane Muti, to injury early in the second half. His status going forward is up in the air, but the running game never really got going regardless: Jordan Mims, Dejonte O’Neal and Josh Hokit combined for 75 yards on 20 carries, nearly a third of which came on a 22-yard Mims run.
And a gutsy play call took the ball out of McMaryion’s hands in crunch time, even as it ultimately did the Bulldogs in. Running back Josh Hokit, successful more than one halfback pass last year, underthrew an open Jared Rice in the back of the end zone for a game-sealing interception by Antoine Winfield Jr.
Johnson led the Bulldogs with six catches for 89 yards, while Jordan Mims paced the running game with 41 yards on 10 attempts.
The Gophers opened the scoring with a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a one-yard run by Green, but were propelled by two 50-plus yard field goals by Emmit Carpenter for most of the game.
Kelly’s forced fumble, in coverage against Tyler Johnson, set up a short drive that saw McMaryion connect with Rice on a one-yard touchdown pass. After Keesean Johnson’s touchdown, however, the defense seriously faltered as Minnesota drove 74 yards in 4:38, with Green scoring for a second time.
Fresno State (1-1) will remain on the road and head to Pasadena to face the UCLA Bruins next Saturday. Minnesota (2-0) will host Miami of Ohio.