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A Night to Remember for Bulldogs in Latest Win Over Power 5 Road Foe
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By Associated Press
Published 7 months ago on
September 18, 2023

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It wasn’t a hard thing to do. Those clad in Fresno State gear were basically the only people left in the stadium.

Mikey Keene threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns, Fresno State’s defense forced eight turnovers and the Bulldogs rolled to a 29-0 win over Arizona State on Saturday night.

“There’s nothing like, at the end of games, when you have more fans than they do,” Tedford said. “That’s really cool for our fans to travel, to be here for us. Just really happy they got to see a good game.”

It was Fresno State’s second road win over a Power Five team in three weeks after also beating Purdue 39-35 on Sept. 2. The Bulldogs (3-0) have a 12-game winning streak, dating back to last season, which is the second-longest in the FBS behind No. 1 Georgia.

Arizona State (1-2) was shut out for the first time since 2008 and the first time at home since 1988. Both those games were against USC.

Carlton Johnson Named Mountain West Defender of the Week

Fresno State defensive back Carlton Johnson was named MW Defensive Player of the Week for his three interceptions and three tackles against Arizona State.

Johnson, a senior from Moreno Valley, intercepted three different Arizona State quarterbacks in the game. The three picks tied the Fresno State and Mountain West game records.

Fantastic Homecoming for Keene

Keene played his high school football in suburban Phoenix, about 10 miles from Arizona State’s campus. He originally enrolled at UCF, playing two seasons before transferring to Fresno State.

“Super surreal moment,” Keene said. “Being able to come home and have a lot of people that I haven’t had watch me in a long time, since I was in high school. That was special for me. I knew I had to stay level-headed — cool, calm, and collected.”

The quarterback went to work immediately against Arizona State’s defense, completing all six of his passes for 75 yards on the opening drive, capped by a 19-yard throw over the middle to Jalen Moss for a touchdown. Dylan Lynch’s 39-yard field goal later in the first quarter made it 10-0.

Meanwhile, Arizona State’s offense was struggling and sloppy. Trenton Bourguet — starting for the injured Jaden Rashada — threw an interception on his first drive and then got hurt on the next, limping off the field with the team’s medical staff. Drew Pyne entered for Bourguet and fumbled on his first play after being sacked. The ball was recovered by Fresno State.

Lynch added a 30-yard field goal on the ensuing drive for a 13-0 lead with 12:23 left in the second quarter.

Pyne fumbled again on Arizona State’s next drive, giving Fresno State the ball at the Sun Devils 13, and that eventually resulted in Lynch’s third field goal and a 16-0 lead.

Fresno State pushed ahead 23-0 early in the third on a 42-yard touchdown from Keene to Jaelen Gill. Erik Brooks finished with 11 catches for 104 yards. Carlton Johnson had three interceptions.

Arizona Coach: ‘I’m Going to Get It Fixed’

“I’ve never in my career been involved in a game like that,” Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham said. “I literally can’t even explain how that’s even possible. But we’re going to get it fixed. I’m going to get it fixed.”

By the end of the game, Arizona State was using fourth-string quarterback Jacob Conover. The Sun Devils lost three fumbles and threw five interceptions — one by Bourguet and two each by Conover and Pyne.

“I’m sure proud of keeping them out of the end zone — all the turnovers they forced,” Tedford said. “I thought the defense played excellent. Put some pressure on the passer, ball hawks, caused fumbles, really proud of them.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Fresno State looks like it’ll be a force in the Mountain West this season. If anything, the margin of victory on Saturday felt like it could have been much larger.

“My mind goes straight to the instances where we didn’t finish in the red zone,” Keene said. “Left a lot of points on the board.”

Arizona State’s first season under Dillingham is shaping up to be a rough one. The Sun Devils have a banged-up offense and don’t appear to have a lot of obvious wins left on their schedule. It doesn’t get any easier next week against USC. Dillingham said Rashada is likely out for the next 4-6 weeks.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Fresno State was already receiving a few votes in the poll, so a lopsided win over a Power Five school should certainly help them gain more recognition.

UP NEXT

Fresno State hosts Kent State next Saturday.

Arizona State hosts No. 5 USC next Saturday.

(GV Wire contributed to this article.)

 

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