Oregon State vs. Fresno State: Bulldogs Blow It, Lose To Beavers 35-32
The Fresno State Bulldogs had the game right there for the taking. Instead, Oregon State rallied and the Red Wave is left stunned yet again.
Another brutal ending.
It could have been different. The Fresno State Bulldogs had to have known Jack Colletto was going to call his own number.
In the seconds before Oregon State’s all-purpose weapon beat Morice Norris Jr. to the goal line as time expired, the ‘Dogs surely had time to reflect on what led to that point, how it wasn’t at all necessary for the Beavers to have one last scoring play and steal a 35-32 decision in front of a sellout crowd at Valley Children’s Stadium. Things could have been different for once, but the game instead became the latest agonizing reminder that this program has few peers when it comes to leaving its fanbase wanting.
It could have been different. The Bulldogs and Beavers traded touchdown drives in the first quarter as Colletto scored first on a two-yard plunge and Jordan Mims answered with a 42-yard scamper, looking every bit as explosive as he did down the stretch last season. That would be the first of two touchdowns scored by the Bulldogs running back, whose stat line looks impressive (21 carries for 122 yards, three receptions for 27 yards) but was by and large frustrated throughout the game: He earned 51.6% of those rushing yards on three carries and averaged 3.27 yards on the other 18.
It could have been different. The Bulldogs were content to put the game in quarterback Jake Haener’s hands and he finished the night with 360 yards and a touchdown on 30-of-46 pass attempts, but the Beavers secondary gave as good as it got with five quarterback hurries and five pass breakups. Haener completed just three of nine attempts on third downs, in particular, and the offense didn’t convert a single opportunity that required five or more yards (6-of-8 on third-and-4 or less, 0-for-6 on third-and-5 or more).
It could have been different if not for some serious red zone struggles that would ultimately doom the Bulldogs. Fresno State had six trips inside the Oregon State 20-yard line and came away with 22 points, two touchdowns and three field goals, and again Haener was a primary (and unexpected culprit). He completed just 2-of-8 in the Beavers’ red zone while, by contrast, the visitors turned four red zone trips into 28 points.
It could have been different if not for some inexplicable decision making down the stretch. What does it say about Haener, the preseason conference offensive player of the year, that head coach Jeff Tedford took the ball out of his hands facing 4th-and-5 at the Oregon State 34 with just over four minutes left in the game? Why was Abraham Montano put in the position where he had to connect on a 52-yard field goal try when he’s never made an attempt from that far away in his collegiate career? What does it say that when they put the ball back in Haener’s hands on the next drive, he marched them down the field for their final lead of the game?
It could have been different if the Bulldogs hadn’t shot themselves in the foot so many times. The Mountain West’s most penalized team in 2021 had ten more against the Beavers, including an inexplicable five false starts. The defense had two defensive holding penalties, too, and a pass interference call which led directly to Colletto’s final dagger. It wasn’t like Oregon State played cleanly, either, as the Beavers had eight flags themselves, including two defensive holding calls in the fourth quarter. They practically tried to give the game away at times.
It could have been different if the defense hadn’t collapsed. Through three quarters, Fresno State outgained Oregon State by a 355-211 margin, had two sacks and eight pass breakups in the game, but the Beavers would average 8.2 yards per play in the final quarter. They bottled up tight end Luke Musgrave for 56 minutes, and then the OSU star had two big catches for 58 yards in the last four minutes of the contest. They clamped down on Tre’Shaun Harrison for 58 minutes, until he found the end zone late in the fourth quarter and then had two crucial catches on the team’s last drive.
It could have been different. The Red Wave got the same old story instead.
Now, the Bulldogs (1-1) will prepare for a trip to Los Angeles to take on the USC Trojans, hoping that the emotional hangover will wear off by next Saturday. Oregon State (2-0), meanwhile, will head home to host FCS Montana State.