Streaking Bulldogs Will Attack Washington State in Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl – GV Wire

When Fresno State’s Jake Haener was faced with the biggest challenge of the season — losing perennial conference powerhouse Boise State — coach Jeff Tedford knew his quarterback would be up to the task.

Haener, who didn’t play Boise State when the teams met earlier in the season because of an ankle injury, threw for 184 yards and a touchdown to lead Fresno State to a 28-16 football victory over the Broncos on their home blue turf Saturday in the Mountain West Conference championship game.

Fresno State (9-4) overcame a 1-4 start to the season and a string of injuries to win the last eight games and earn the program’s third Mountain West crown.

Next up: The Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl

Now it’s up against Washington State (7-5) at SoFi Stadium in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl on Saturday, December 17th. The game will be televised on ABC30 from 12:30 p.m.

“We’ve come a long way from the first half of the year when a lot of people didn’t believe in us,” Tedford said. “But the staff did and the kids did. … It’s nice to see her happy.”

Boise State (9-4), which won 40-20 between teams in the regular season, fell to 3-3 in Mountain West’s title games.

“We have to take our hats off to (Fresno State),” said Boise State coach Andy Avalos. “Obviously we haven’t achieved what we set out to do today, but we’ve achieved a lot of things this year. … And we get another opportunity in a bowl game.”

Haener delivers in the big moments

But it was Haener who delivered in the moments Fresno State needed him most, unsurprisingly for Tedford.

The couple goes back to when Haener was 9 and looking for help as a prospective quarterback. A mutual friend connected him to Tedford and a long-lasting relationship ensued.

“We worked together a little bit and I gave Jake a few goals and he was so committed to those goals,” Tedford said. “I told him his feet were heavy and he had to jump rope five hundred times without missing. Eight months later I got a call from him and he said, ‘I made it, I made it.'”

Tedford, who recruited Haener from high school, had to re-recruit him when he entered the transfer portal after changing coaches late last season and was considering leaving Fresno State. But Tedford won him back.

“I wanted to be able to come back and play with this great group,” Haener said of his decision to hold out during his senior season at Fresno State. “When I had this guy (Tedford) on the other end of the phone, I knew I wanted to be here and play with this group. It was great and the adversity we faced together was one of the biggest challenges in my life. And it was great.”

Haener capitalized on every Bronco misstep. The game’s offensive MVP was five of eight on third downs and led two key scoring drives in the fourth quarter.

“This is the golden boy of the conference and …come up here against one of our biggest rivals in the conference definitely means more,” Haener said.

Bulldogs hit late in the first half, roll from there

Boise State controlled the game early but struggled to find the end zone and held on to a 3-0 lead late in the first half. But that all changed when Fresno State scored two touchdowns in a 2:36 span just before halftime.

Nikko Remigio’s electric 70-yard punt return that meandered back and forth across the field started the spark at Fresno State. On the ensuing possession, defensive player of the game Cameron Lockridge intercepted the first of two passes and returned it 25 yards to the Broncos 17. Three games later, Jordan hit Mims on a 2-yard run to make the Bulldogs 14-3. You never gave up the lead.

After Boise State led 14-9 in the third quarter, Fresno State took advantage of a gross punter penalty in fourth and 15th place to breathe new life into the ride. Haener ended the match with a 22-yard strike against Zane Pope. He applied another hit on the next possession to put the game out of reach.

Jordan Mims rushed for 83 yards and two points for Fresno State.

Boise State’s Taylen Green was 17 of 38 passing for 175 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

The takeaways

State of Boise: While Broncos quarterback Green made a splash on the team with his legs, it was his arm that turned the season around. Green was often off target against Fresno State, however.

State of Fresno: The Bulldogs’ 10-3 campaign a year ago served as a stepping stone to continued success in 2022. However, Tedford, who has now won two Mountain West titles, will have his work cut out for him in 2023 as his talented team loses eight Seniors on offense and five others on defense. If he chooses to use the transfer portal, he could shore up the team’s near-term needs and keep Fresno State in contention for another conference title.

Bowl Preview

KEEP AN EYE OPEN

Washington State: QB Cameron Ward. Thrown for 23 touchdowns and ran for five more points.

Fresno State: While Haener is the Bulldogs’ most well-known player, Mims keeps the defense honest. During his senior campaign, he rushed for 1,161 yards and 16 touchdowns.

REMARKABLE

Washington State: The Cougars had won three straight games before losing to rivals Washington to close out the regular season.

Fresno State: The Bulldogs have won eight straight games after starting 1-4. They’ve only allowed 30 total points in their last three wins — over Nevada, Wyoming and Boise State.

LAST TIME

Washington State 24, Fresno State 3, September 10, 1994. For more series history, see this link.

BOWL STORY

Washington State: A seventh consecutive bowl appearance and an 18th overall record.

Fresno State: Has reached bowls for second consecutive bowl and 31st bowl overall since 2017-18.



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