Big plays and giveaways seal Bulldogs fate with USC
Nugesse Ghebrendrias/The Madera Tribune
Fresno State’s Derrion Grim makes an acrobatic grab for the Bulldogs first score of the game.
Fresno State generated four turnovers, rushed for over 200 yards and nearly tied the game in the closing moments in a narrow 31-23 loss to USC at the first game in the newly-renovated LA Memorial Coliseum.
The Bulldogs don’t play for moral victories and after loss to USC, head coach Jeff Tedford reiterated his team’s mindset — win games, no matter what.
“We came here to win a football game and we didn’t get that done,” he said after Saturday’s loss. “I am proud of the team for the way that they competed and fought until the very end, but at the end of the day, it is all about winning the game and we didn’t get that done.”
Behind first-year starter and SoCal native Jorge Reyna, the Bulldogs showed flashes, but lacked consistency throughout the game.
But Reyna showed why he was Tedford’s first recruit at Fresno State.
The senior threw for more than 250 yards and two touchdowns, while utilizing his legs on 20 carries for 88 yards.
Although he had three turnovers (two fumbles and an interception) Reyna led the Bulldogs back from a double-digit deficit late in the game.
“I’ve always had a tough journey. It’s never been easy for me with family life, football and academics,” he said. “I just wanted to show the Red Wave that I can fight, no matter what happens and lead.”
The Trojans, coming off a 5-7 2018 season came out swinging to a raucous crowd at the Coliseum.
The Trojans marched 80 yards down the field on their opening drive, culminating in an eight-yard pass to Stephen Carr for the opening score.
Carr ran up the middle for 14 yards and six points, pushing the lead to 13-0 before the subsequent extra point.
Fresno State drove down the field and nearly reached the red zone, but Reyna was unable to reach the first-down marker. His run setup Cesar Silva for a 45-yard field goal.
After USC answered with a Chase McGrath field goal, Derrion Grim pulled the Bulldogs back within seven after an acrobatic touchdown grab over two USC defenders at the goal line and into the endzone.
Reyna saw the seam and lobbed a go-get-it ball and that’s what Grim did, he got it.
USC held a thin 17-10 lead after Grim’s heroics.
The Bulldogs surrendered the ball to the Trojans, but Arron Mosby returned the favor with a forced fumble, allowing Jaron Bryant to recover the ball. Fresno State capitalized on Silva’s leg with another field goal, cutting the deficit 17-13 in the third quarter.
However, USC answered with a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown from Velus Jones on the next play to lead 24-13 and added another touchdown on its next drive.
Reyna hooked up with Grim on a 52-yard pass down the middle of the field. Fresno State couldn’t find the six points, but they settled for Silva’s third field goal.
Reyna engineered a 12-play drive, culminating in a touchdown pass to Chris Coleman.
Reyna hit Coleman again for a 36-yard completion on fourth down, setting Fresno State up inside the Trojans red zone late in the game.
However, the drive and game ended as Reyna’s pass looking for Ronnie Rivers was picked off by safety Isaiah Pola-Mao, taking the opening-night victory 31-23.
Fresno State (0-1) now looks to its home opener next Saturday against Minnesota.