Fresno State

Hill: It was never close

RENO, NEV. -- With a cushy lead evaporated, Fresno State coach Pat Hill smirked in the opposite direction after watching Nevada score yet another late touchdown.

A game the Bulldogs had dominated 90 percent of the time ended as a close contest after Fresno State gave up 21 points in the final 6:22 before holding on for a 49-41 win at Nevada on Saturday.

"I don't think the final score indicates the type of game it was," Hill said after Saturday's game. "Got a little sloppy toward the end, but we were just playing prevent (defense).

"We had a lot of walk-ons in, a lot of players just trying to keep the ball in front of us."

Hill could find few legitimate concerns, aside from the mounting injuries, about Saturday's game.

Fresno State had three players -- linebackers Quaadir Brown and Ryan Machado, and defensive tackle Jason Shirley -- go down against Nevada.

Machado is expected to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Brown (back bruise) and Shirley (concussion) are day to day.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs' defense gave up 702 total yards and 30 first downs -- both season-worst marks.

But the statistics seemed a bit misleading with Nevada amassing 259 yards, 10 first downs and 21 points in the fourth quarter alone.

Nevada backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran for 60 yards and touchdown.

The Bulldogs' vaunted pass defense, which was ranked second in the nation before Saturday, gave up 491 yards. And the run defense allowed 5.4 yards per carry.

But for every Fresno State mistake, the Bulldogs answered with twice as many solid areas to build on.

Fresno State scored touchdowns on five plays of 40-yards or more, three on offense and two via special teams.

Its running game amassed 307 yards for an average of 8.8 yards per carry, led by the big-play threat of true freshman Ryan Mathews, who finished with 171 yards and three touchdowns.

"We really felt like we could run the football against them and we did," Hill said.

Quarterback Tom Brandstater did not throw a touchdown but completed 10 of 16 passes for 168 yards and connected on enough passes early to keep Nevada's defense guessing.

On specials teams, the Bulldogs had a punt-return touchdown, blocked a field goal that led to a touchdown, recovered a fumble and held Nevada to an average starting field position of its own 24.

"Special teams is and always will be about three things," special teams coach John Baxter said. "It gives you momentum. It gives you good field position. It gives you a chance quick scores. We did a bit of it all."

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