Jake Haener threw for five touchdown passes, four to Jalen Cropper, as No. 22 Fresno State survived its Mountain West Conference opener with a fourth-quarter rally that allowed it to beat UNLV 38-30 Friday night in Fresno, Calif.
Haener and Cropper’s final scoring connection, a 26-yarder with 4:53 left in the game, gave the Bulldogs (4-1, 1-0 MWC) the lead for good at 35-30. Cesar Silva added insurance with a 31-yard field goal with 2:29 remaining.
The Rebels (0-4, 0-1) led 30-29 on Daniel Gutierrez’s 30-yard field goal with 6:38 left in the game, but their offense couldn’t produce a first down on either of their last two possessions. Cameron Friel’s 4th-and-14 pass with 1:19 left fell incomplete to seal the outcome.
UNLV used two quarterbacks to help them roll up 433 total yards, just 28 fewer than Fresno State. Friel was 9 of 15 for 138 yards, while starter Doug Brumfield completed 6 of 13 for 143 yards with two touchdowns. Charles Williams added 102 yards and a score on 19 carries.
Fresno State entered the game as a 30 1/2-point favorite, but it was UNLV that controlled most of the first half with a defense that was allowing an average of 40 points per game.
The Rebels kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone until the final minute of the first half and owned a 14-0 lead before the first quarter was over. Their offense marched 60 and 95 yards on their first two possessions for touchdowns.
Brumfield found Steve Jenkins for a 10-yard scoring strike five minutes into the game, followed by a 1-yard touchdown run by Williams with 1:16 left that finished a 14-play, 7:24 drive.
Fresno State finally got on the board with Silva’s 25-yard field goal at the 11:38 mark of the second quarter. Haener gave the Bulldogs some momentum with 32 seconds left in the half, hitting Erik Brooks for an 18-yard score that cut the UNLV advantage to 14-9 at intermission.
–Field Level Media