Fresno State football fans, this is what Jalen Cropper is capable of.
The former Sanger Apache and Buchanan Bear got the first meaningful workload in his college career.
Cropper had a few carries against USC and in games after, but against New Mexico State, Cropper showed just how gifted he is with the ball in his hands in the Bulldogs 30-17 victory.
The former Buchanan Bear rushed for 118 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown in the second quarter. He also added 14 receiving yards.
“When I got the ball, I cut the corner and saw Jared Rice and Cam Sutton blocking and doing their jobs, and I just saw green. After that, I turned on the burners and didn’t look back after that,” Cropper said.
It was his first collegiate touchdown and many fans, coaches and teammates alike should expect to see more from one of the best recruits Fresno State has ever landed. He is currently averaging 9.7 yards per carry this season.
“With that being my first touchdown, it meant a lot to me and I know it meant a lot to the team. I went in and executed the play the way I was supposed to.”
And although Cropper is an underclassmen, he’s willing to put in the work and realizes every chance he has on the field should be cherished.
“Being a freshman, coming out on our fourth game, knowing that the coaches trust me with the rock in my hand and being out there makes me feel blessed. It is a great feeling. I feel blessed each and every play that I am out there with my teammates,” he said.
Fresno State (2-2), fresh off a win over Sacramento State, combined big plays on the ground and timely defensive plays to take the game 30-17.
The Bulldogs scratched early in their last non-conference game of the season. Clovis Cougar alumni Josh Hokit got the ball rolling as he plunged into the end zone from eight yards out to give Fresno State an early 7-0 lead.
Fresno State would be held scoreless until the second quarter where Cropper made his mark as a Bulldog.
The freshman phenom took a handoff 79 yards to the house. His vision and speed as a ball carrier were more than enough to stymie any chance New Mexico had at stopping him.
Fresno State held a 14-0 lead that only increased in the second quarter after Cesar Silva connected on a 28-yard field goal and Wylan Free’s 91-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“It was a big impact on the team to go out and execute a play that we have worked on,” Free said of his interception. “For me, it was a pretty big thing. It was my first pick this year and my first pick-six while in college. It definitely will hold some significance.”
Free was right. Fresno State now held a 24-point lead and significantly silenced the New Mexico State fan base.
New Mexico’s Dylan Brown hit a 42-yard field goal just before the half to put the Aggies on the board.
Halftime: Fresno State 24, New Mexico 3
With the momentum on their side (somewhat) heading into the half, the Aggies came out in the second half and capitalized on a Zane Pope fumble, setting New Mexico State up at the 31-yard line.
The turnover allowed the Aggies’ Jason Huntley to bring the score a hair closer, 24-10.
Luckily, Silva had shaken his kicking woes and hit two more in the quarter to push Fresno State to 30-10.
New Mexico scored a late touchdown in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t climb out of their early hole.
Fresno State (2-2) now looks towards its Mountain West opener against Air Force on Saturday, Oct. 12.