Dec 18, 2021; Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs Jordan Mims (7) runs the ball in for a touchdown against the UTEP Miners defense in the first half at the 2021 New Mexico Bowl at Dreamstyle Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Mims’ three TDs lead Fresno State over UTEP in New Mexico Bowl

Jordan Mims ran for 165 yards and two short touchdowns and added a 22-yard scoring reception as Fresno State did just enough to beat Texas-El Paso 31-24 on Saturday afternoon in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener, who weeks ago put his name in the transfer portal but reversed his tack when Jeff Tedford was hired as the next coach of the Bulldogs, started the game and passed for 286 yards and a score in the victory.

The Bulldogs (10-3) earned their first double-digit victory campaign since 2018 when they went 12-2 and won the Mountain West Conference championship.

Gavin Hardison passed for 252 yards and a touchdown but had two crucial fumbles in the fourth quarter for the Miners (7-6) in the loss. UTEP was denied its first bowl win since the 1967 Sun Bowl, extending the longest postseason victory drought in FBS that includes seven straight defeats in bowl games.

Fresno State drove the field on its opening possession, which culminated in Mims’ 2-yard TD run. Cesar Silva missed the PAT, keeping the score at 6-0 with 12:44 to play in the first quarter. UTEP answered on its first drive, with Trent Thompson hauling in a 1-yard scoring pass from Hardison that, after Gavin Baechle’s extra-point kick, granted the Miners a 7-6 lead.

Silva and Baechle added field goals for their teams from 42 and 38 yards, respectively — the latter of which put UTEP back in the lead at 10-9 with 14:49 to play in the second quarter.

Ronald Awatt’s 1-yard TD run extended the Miners lead to 17-9. But the Bulldogs were strongest over the final two minutes of the half, getting a 1-yard scoring plunge from Mims with 1:52 to play and a 45-yard field goal by Silva with 4 seconds left to take a 19-17 advantage into halftime.

Fresno State added to its lead on a 22-yard TD pass from Haener to Mims with 1:17 to play in the third quarter. But UTEP responded with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Calvin Brownholtz to Thompson to pull back to within 26-24 with 14:10 remaining.

Silva made it a five-point game with his third field goal of the game, a 21 yarder with 9:04 left. Then the Bulldogs added a safety, as Hardison fumbled while being sacked in his own end zone and the loose ball was recovered by UTEP lineman Elijah Klein.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Fresno, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs head coach Kalen Deboer looks on from the sideline against the Cal Poly Mustangs in the third quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Washington to hire Fresno State’s Kalen DeBoer

Washington is close to hiring Fresno State’s Kalen DeBoer as its new head coach, multiple outlets reported.

Yahoo Sports said an announcement could happen as soon as Monday.

DeBoer, 47, is in his second year at Fresno State. The Bulldogs went 3-3 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign and finished the 2021 regular season with a 9-3 record, including 6-2 in the Mountain West Conference.

He previously was the offensive coordinator at Indiana (2019), Fresno State (2017-18), Eastern Michigan (2014-16) and Southern Illinois (2010-13). Before that, he guided the University of Sioux Falls to a 67-3 record from 2005-09, winning three NAIA championships and earning three NAIA Coach of the Year awards.

DeBoer would replace Jimmy Lake, who was fired on Nov. 14 after compiling a 7-6 record in less than two seasons in Seattle.

Bob Gregory served as the interim head coach for the final three games for Washington (4-8, 3-6 Pac-12), including last Friday’s 40-13 Apple Cup loss to rival Washington State.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Boise State Broncos head coach Andy Avalos looks on against the UCF Knights during the second half at Bounce House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State routs No. 23 Fresno State

Jonah Dalmas kicked four field goals and Andrew Van Buren rushed for two touchdowns to help visiting Boise State roll to a 40-14 victory over No. 23 Fresno State in Mountain West play on Saturday night.

Hank Bachmeier was 15-of-27 passing for 283 yards and one touchdown as the Broncos (5-4, 3-2 MW) won their second consecutive game. George Holani racked up 186 yards from scrimmage (117 rushing, 69 receiving) and Khalil Shakir caught seven passes for 67 yards and one score.

JL Skinner, Kekaula Kaniho and younger brother Kaonohi Kaniho had interceptions for the Broncos, who recorded five sacks.

Fresno State’s Jake Haener tossed the three interceptions while completing 22 of 38 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Keric Wheatfall and Zane Pope had scoring receptions for the Bulldogs (7-3, 4-2), who had a three-game winning streak halted.

Boise State outgained Fresno State 470 to 356. The Bulldogs also were hurt by drawing 11 penalties for 91 yards.

A key sequence occurred during the middle of the third quarter. With the Broncos leading by 12, Dalmas kicked a 44-yard field goal but Fresno State’s Cale Sanders Jr. was called for roughing the kicker.

Boise State accepted the penalty that moved the ball to the Bulldogs’ 14-yard line. Three plays later, Bachmeier hit Shakir on a 10-yard scoring pass to make it 23-7 with 6:43 remaining in the quarter.

Dalmas booted a 27-yarder with 13:30 left in the contest to make it a three-score game and Van Buren tacked on a 1-yard scoring run to make it 33-7 with 7:41 remaining.

Tyler Crowe added a 7-yard scoring run with 2:48 left before Fresno State scored on Haener’s 5-yard pass to Pope with 1:10 to play.

Van Buren rushed for a score and Dalmas kicked three field goals as Boise State led 16-7 at the break.

Dalmas’ boots of 47 and 27 yards and Van Buren’s 1-yard run gave the Broncos a 13-0 lead with 12:45 left in the first half. Fresno State got on the board on Haener’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Wheatfall with 5:50 remaining before Dalmas added a 32-yard field goal with 41 seconds to play.

–Field Level Media

CSU football's Dequan Jackson takes down Boise State's Kyjuan Herndon during a game at Canvas Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

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Boise State ready to run with No. 25 Fresno State

No. 25 Fresno State hopes to have all its key offensive cogs when it hosts Boise State on Saturday night in a Mountain West showdown.

The Bulldogs (7-2, 4-1 MWC) have won three straight games while the Broncos (4-4, 2-2) are experiencing a down season under first-year coach Andy Avalos.

Star receiver Jalen Cropper injured his right knee when Fresno State stunned then-No. 21 San Diego State 30-20 last Saturday while leading rusher Ronnie Rivers (ankle) missed the contest after being hurt in the previous week’s win over Nevada.

The return of Rivers (573 rushing yards) would pose a welcome problem as Jordan Mims (504) had a career-best 186 rushing yards against San Diego State and has 320 over the past two weeks.

“With who gets the most touches, I think that’s just how the game plays out,” Bulldogs coach Kalen DeBoer said of the two likely splitting the load. “I really feel like Ronnie is right at that point of being able to be back out there, hopefully a full-go (Tuesday) with practice.”

Cropper is tied for second in the FBS with 10 touchdown receptions. His injury came on a non-contact play and initially looked serious as he was carted off the field.

But he returned to the sidelines later and rode a bike. The outlook continued to look good on Monday, according to offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb.

“He came in the training room (Monday), was loosening it up and we’re confident that he will play,” Grubb told reporters.

Cropper has team-best figures of 61 receptions for 664 yards as the top target of standout quarterback Jake Haener.

Haener has passed for 2,888 yards, 23 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has six 300-yard outings this season and 10 in 15 career games with Fresno State.

The Bulldogs average 35.0 points and 480.4 yards per game but the defensive contributions have been key. The unit allows just 20.8 points per game and has recorded seven interceptions during the three-game winning streak.

Also, Fresno State has recovered 10 fumbles this season, which is tied for fourth nationally.

Free safety Evan Williams is the star player with team-best figures of 71 tackles and three interceptions. Defensive tackle Kevin Atkins has a team-leading six sacks.

Boise State will provide a test to the defense with quarterback Hank Bachmeier and wideout Khalil Shakir.

Bachmeier has passed for 2,203 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions, while Shakir has 49 receptions for 777 yards and four scores. Shakir had nine catches for 118 yards in last Saturday’s 28-19 road win over Colorado State for his ninth career 100-yard outing.

The Broncos average 29.3 points per game but wins haven’t come as easy as in the past. Boise State had to dig itself out of a 13-0 deficit to beat the Rams, a team they have never lost to in 11 all-time meetings.

“I still think we have a ways to go,” Bachmeier told reporters. “I don’t think we’re a complete team yet in terms of finishing a game and starting fast, but I’m so proud of us for being able to finish that game and come back from a deficit.”

Now Boise State looks to knock Fresno State out of the Top 25. The Broncos lead the series 15-7 but the Bulldogs won the most recent matchup, 19-16 in overtime on Dec. 1, 2018 in the Mountain West title game in Boise.

Avalos is just worried about this week and hoping to see his team record a second straight good performance.

“Every week we’re just trying to be 1-0,” Avalos said. “Overall it was our best performance (of the season).”

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2020; Fresno, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener (9) rushes the ball against Hawaii Rainbow Warriors linebacker Darius Muasau (53) during the third quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

Hawaii scores 17 unanswered to upset No. 18 Fresno St.

Hugh Nelson nabbed an interception off a deflection with nine seconds left to cap Hawaii’s 17-point, fourth-quarter rally for a 27-24 upset of No. 18 Fresno State in Mountain West play on Saturday night at Honolulu.

Khoury Bethley had two interceptions and a key strip-sack as Hawaii (3-3, 1-1 MW) ended a 13-game losing streak against ranked teams. Matthew Shipley booted the tiebreaking 33-yard field goal with 3:33 remaining for the decisive points.

The comeback marked the first time the Rainbow Warriors beat a ranked team since 2010, when they notched a 27-21 home win over No. 19 Nevada, quarterbacked by Colin Kaepernick.

Jake Haener passed for 388 yards and three touchdowns but was intercepted four times and lost a fumble for the Bulldogs (4-2, 1-1). Overall, Fresno State committed six turnovers.

The final interception went off the hands of Ty Jones and was picked off by Nelson at the Hawaii 3-yard line.

Zane Pope caught five passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and Jalen Cropper collected one scoring pass for Fresno State, which outgained the Rainbow Warriors 505 to 348.

Brayden Schager completed 11 of 27 passes for 116 yards for Hawaii in his first career start in place of injured Chevan Cordeiro. Calvin Turner scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving), Caleb Phillips had a scoring reception and Dae Dae Hunter rushed for 127 yards.

Cortez Davis also had an interception for the Rainbow Warriors while Jonah Laulu recovered a crucial fumble.

Hawaii trailed by 14 when Bethley recorded his second interception with 14:13 remaining to set up a four-play, 44-yard scoring drive. Schager tossed a 26-yarder to Phillips to bring the Rainbow Warriors within 24-17 with 12:06 left.

The next time Hawaii had the ball, the Warriors went 60 yards on six plays with Schager tossing an 18-yard touchdown pass to Turner to knot the score with 7:05 remaining.

Just 38 seconds later, Bethley strip-sacked Haener and Laulu recovered at the Fresno State 44-yard line. Eight plays later, Shipley kicked a 33-yard field goal to give the Rainbow Warriors the three-point lead that they protected at the finish.

Hawaii scored the game’s first 10 points on Turner’s 1-yard run and Shipley’s 34-yard field goal. Haener threw touchdown passes of 65 and 7 yards to Pope in the first half, and added a 35-yard scoring aerial to Cropper with 9:22 left in the third quarter.

Cesar Silva kicked a 48-yard field goal to make it 24-10 with 4:29 left in the quarter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2021; Fresno, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Jalen Cropper (5) runs the ball against the UNLV Rebels in the third quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Hawaii faces challenge of aerial antics by No. 18 Fresno State

Fresno State had a stellar aerial combo earlier this decade in Derek Carr and Davante Adams, who are both now enjoying standout NFL careers.

Now the No. 18 Bulldogs have another terrific tandem making noise in Jake Haener and Jalen Cropper as they arrive on the Islands to face Hawaii in Mountain West play on Saturday night in Honolulu.

Haener’s 1,842 passing yards are the most in the nation and his 15 touchdown passes are tied for second. Cropper is tied for the national lead with eight scoring catches and with 39 receptions. He also ranks eighth with 455 receiving yards.

The firepower has led Fresno State (4-1, 1-0 Mountain West) to a fast start that includes a 40-37 road win over then-No. 13 UCLA.

Last weekend, the Bulldogs held off UNLV 38-30 as Haener passed for 378 yards and five touchdowns. The scoring passes were the most by a Fresno State quarterback since Carr tossed five or more on four occasions in 2013.

Cropper had 10 catches for 108 yards and matched the school record of four touchdown receptions, joining Adams (twice in 2013), Charlie Jones (1995) and Jim Molich (1942).

“I just feel like there is a lot of trust between me and Jake on and off the field,” Cropper said of the chemistry he has with Haener. “I think going through summer, spring ball and fall camp we had a lot of practices, a lot of time, a lot of chances where we were able to connect on certain plays.

“Getting in the film room and studying a lot of the film on opponents this season, I feel like just everything we do from on and off the field to whatever we do with our relationship, I think that ties in to what we do on the field.”

Haener has moved up the charts in the Heisman race due to his strong start. As of Tuesday, only six players have better odds to win the prestigious award.

Bulldogs coach Kalen DeBoer isn’t surprised that Haener’s candidacy is drawing more support.

“You’ve got to win football games if you’re going to be considered in that realm, in that category,” DeBoer told reporters. “He’s a leader. He’s won football games in big ways. Obviously the stats are something that really draw your attention to what he’s accomplished during this year. It is kind of crazy to think how just consistently week in and week out he’s been overall.”

Fresno State is looking to win in Honolulu for the seventh straight time.

The Rainbow Warriors (2-3, 0-1) also played UCLA this season and were walloped 44-10.

Hawaii recorded a 41-21 road win over New Mexico State last Saturday as standout linebacker Darius Muasau had 11 tackles and two sacks.

Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro ranks fourth nationally with 1,410 passing yards. He has thrown seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

However, the Rainbow Warriors have scored just 50 total points in their three setbacks.

“It’s not a Chevan problem, it’s a team problem,” Hawaii coach Todd Graham said. “I’ve been in this game long enough to know when I’ve got a good product. Everyone out here knows that and our players have a lot of confidence in Chevan.”

Hawaii registered a 34-19 win in Fresno State in last season’s meeting.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Pasadena, California, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Erik Brooks (3) celebrate after making a catch for a touchdown against the UCLA Bruins in the fourth quarter Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 Fresno State an overwhelming favorite vs. UNLV

Fresno State has turned out its fair share of NFL quarterbacks in recent years, but Jake Haener’s performance Saturday night at then-No. 13 UCLA might just be unmatched in terms of its scope and importance.

All he did was throw for 455 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 14 seconds left in a 40-37 upset win, propelling the Bulldogs into the rankings at No. 22 and earning praise nationally for a gritty effort that saw him overcome a painful hip injury.

Haener’s encore performance seems easy enough on paper. Fresno State (3-1) opens its Mountain West Conference schedule Friday night against visiting UNLV (0-3) as a 30 1/2-point favorite.

The Bulldogs are getting mentioned by some as a contender for the Group of Five’s spot in the New Year’s Day bowl lineup. Their one loss wasn’t exactly a disgrace, as they led then-No. 11 Oregon in the fourth quarter before falling 31-24 in Eugene.

Had Fresno State been able to finish out that game, it might be a Top 10 team with two road wins over Pac-12 foes. However, coach Kalen DeBoer’s squad didn’t let the Oregon defeat enter its mind in Pasadena.

“The biggest thing was the belief that we would win,” he said. “There was never a question coming into this game. We know what we are capable of. The best thing about this game is there aren’t any regrets.”

The only regrets in the Rose Bowl might have been from opposing coaches who wished they had Haener leading their huddle. He marched the Bulldogs 75 yards on six plays in just 40 seconds, connecting with Jalen Cropper on a 13-yard scoring strike for the decisive points.

It was the capper of a huge game for Cropper, who caught 14 passes for 141 yards. But Fresno State isn’t a one-dimensional offense, as proven by Ronnie Rivers’ season-high 136 yards rushing and two touchdowns at UCLA. Rivers, a fifth-year senior, has 2,927 yards and 38 scores in his career.

The Bulldogs’ average of 541.5 yards per game ranks ninth nationally and their 402.5 passing yards per game ranks fourth. Logic dictates both averages could go up against a Rebels team that is off to a rocky start.

A 48-3 home loss to No. 14 Iowa State last weekend kept UNLV winless under second-year coach Marcus Arroyo. The Rebels, who finished 0-6 in 2020, have allowed at least 35 points in each game this year. They have scored just 13 points total in their two games against FBS opponents.

Arroyo, whose team opened the season with a double-overtime home loss to FCS power Eastern Washington, inherited a program with a recent history of failure. He also inherited a brutal early schedule with three straight Top 25 foes, including Fresno State.

“The growth in our program will come from challenges like this, back-to-back Top 25 teams and seeing how we stand up against them and continue to find some good football in there,” Arroyo said after the Iowa State loss. “Particularly with a young group and with depth that’s different than some of those teams.”

The Rebels have started different quarterbacks in each of their first three games, none named Tate Martell. The former Ohio State and Miami backup relieved last week’s starter, Cameron Friel, and went 2 of 6 for 27 yards. It’s believed that Doug Brumfield, who missed the Iowa State game with an injury, will get the call in Fresno.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs running back Ronnie Rivers (20) celebrates with Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Jalen Cropper (5) after scoring a touchdown against the UNLV Rebels during the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State at Fresno State canceled

Fresno State’s home game Friday against San Diego State was canceled due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns within the Bulldogs’ program, the Mountain West announced Sunday.

The league declared the game a no contest. It will not be rescheduled.

It is the second straight cancellation for Fresno State (3-1) due to contact tracing protocols. The Bulldogs’ Nov. 21 contest with rival San Jose State was also scratched.

The next scheduled game for Fresno State is Dec. 5 at Nevada. San Diego State (3-2) is set to host Colorado State that same day.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2017; Laramie, WY, USA; A general view of the  Fresno State Bulldogs helmet against the Wyoming Cowboys during the second quarter at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Fresno State-SJSU canceled due to contact tracing

Contact tracing at Fresno State related to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the Bulldogs to cancel their scheduled Saturday home game against San Jose State.

The game won’t be rescheduled and was declared no contest, the Mountain West Conference announced Thursday.

The Bulldogs-Spartans game is the 16th to be postponed in the Football Bowl Subdivision this week, one more than last week.

Fresno State athletic director Terry Tumey said in a statement, “Though we have dutifully followed all proper protocols, and have received continual guidance from the Fresno County Department of Public Health, we unfortunately have confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 within our football program.

“In coordination with the Fresno County Department of Public Health and extensive contact tracing efforts, we have identified additional student-athletes who, per public health protocols, are required to be quarantined as a precaution.”

San Jose State coach Brent Brennan added in a statement, “We were looking forward to playing Fresno State this weekend. We had a great week of practice preparing for this game and playing for the Valley Trophy.

“While there is disappointment about not playing a game this weekend, this is another reminder how important it is to follow all the health and safety guidelines to beat COVID-19 — starting with wearing a face mask, washing your hands frequently, and practicing safe social distancing.”

Fresno State (3-1, 3-1 MW) is next due to play a home game against San Diego State on Nov. 27. San Jose State (4-0, 4-0) is scheduled to resume action Nov. 28 at Boise State.

The Mountain West has canceled three games this week. Utah State at Wyoming, slated for Friday, and UNLV at Colorado State, scheduled for Saturday, also were scrapped.

–Field Level Media