Once again, the Fresno State Bulldogs came up just short against a Power 5 team – the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
First-year starter Jorge Reyna nearly led the Bulldogs to his first win and the first of the season for the team, but was unable to bring the Bulldogs over the finish line after an interception late in overtime sealed the game, 38-35 in favor of the Golden Gophers.
Reyna’s pass intended for Cam Sutton was intercepted by Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr.
“We had a little too much air on the ball,” Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford said. “I don’t think there was anything wrong with the play call, but we just did not execute it the way that we needed to. It was something we have been saving for the game if we got into that situation. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
Minnesota started fast on the first drive of the game. The Golden Gophers marched 75 yards down the field in a little over three minutes to take a 7-0 lead.
With 8:47 remaining on the clock, the Bulldogs found themselves down early at their 2019 home opener in front of 34,790 fans at Bulldog Stadium.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that the Bulldogs responded to the Golden Gophers initial scoring drive.
Reyna orchestrated an eight-play drive that culminated in a Cesar Silva field goal from 48 yards out, cutting the deficit 7-3.
But, Minnesota answered Fresno State with a 10-play, 65-yard drive that saw Rodney Smith score from one yard out.
Minnesota led 14-3
It was only a matter of time before Reyna, Ronnie Rivers and the Fresno State offense started clicking.
And with the half approaching, the Bulldogs opened up their playbook and forced the Golden Gophers into tough matchups.
A 16-yard pass to Derrion Grim and a 25-yard pass to Rivers for a touchdown highlighted Fresno State’s 75-yard drive that brought the home team back 14-10, just before halftime.
The Bulldogs had the momentum on their side and after a stop by the defense to enter the break, the offense came out in the third quarter and added more points on the board.
Reyna led Fresno State into the Golden Gophers endzone but stalled as the offense was unable to convert on a crucial third down.
Silva stepped up and nailed a 30-yard field, bringing the score 14-13 still in favor of Minnesota.
But, Fresno State’s Justin Rice followed up on defense when he stripped Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, Isaiah Johnson recovering the loose football.
Down 14-13, Zane Pope combined with Reyna for two catches of 15-plus yards, leading to a 14-yard touchdown by Jared Rice, followed by a two-point conversion run by Clovis High alumni Josh Hokit.
Fresno State took the lead 21-14.
But just as they’ve done all night, the Golden Gophers answered with a touchdown, tying the score at 21.
Fresno State then capitalized on a muffed punt and took over in Minnesota territory. The turnover led to points for the Bulldogs after Reyna called his own number, pushing the lead back to seven points – 28-21.
Up to the defense, the Bulldogs needed to stop the Golden Gophers on one final drive.
On a fourth-down play, Minnesota converted for a touchdown to tie the game late, sending it into overtime. The Bulldogs defense forced Minnesota into third and longs but couldn’t find the final stop they needed to win the game.
Fresno State scored a touchdown on its first opportunity and so did Minnesota.
All tied up 35-35, the Golden Gophers went first in the double-overtime period, scoring a field goal and setting up the Bulldogs for a potential victory.
Reyna dropped back to pass on the first play and was intercepted in the endzone, ending the game in favor of the Golden Gophers.
The Bulldogs moved to 0-2 for the first time since 2014 and head into a bye week.
“It is going to be a long two weeks not having another opportunity to play next week, I can tell you that. But we are going to go back and practice as we always do. I love these kids. I have a lot of confidence in these kids and these coaches. We are going to stick together. There is a lot of good football left to be played this season,” Tedford said.