(Sept. 30, 2012) -- Fresno State got yet another record-setting performance at Bulldog Stadium in a 52-40 Homecoming victory over San Diego State Saturday night in the first-ever Mountain West Conference game for the 'Dogs.
Junior quarterback Derek Carr set new school and Mountain West records with 42 completions and 579 yards of total offense. His 536 yards passing tied the school single-game record that was set by Dave Telford and was one yard shy of tying the MW record. He finished the game 42-of-56 passing with five touchdowns, two interceptions and 43 yards rushing.
"Take that Dave," Carr joked afterwards in regards to passing his older brother David and tying Telford for the single-game passing record. "It's exciting. [The win] means a lot, and this program means the most to me."
This record night -- reminiscent of Fresno State's last home game against Colorado when Robbie Rouse became the school's all-time leading rusher -- was one in which the 'Dogs overcame a lot of adversity to win.
Two turnovers on its first three possessions put Fresno State (3-2, 1-0 MW) in an early 21-7 hole after the first quarter. The 'Dogs fought back to take a 36-34 lead early in the third quarter, but the Aztecs' Leon McFadden picked off Carr and returned the ball 96 yards for a touchdown to give the Aztecs the lead again.
Carr and the Bulldogs did not get down. They marched back to outscore the Aztecs (2-3, 0-1), 16-0, to end the game with the conference victory.
"I was really proud of the way our team rebounded from a horrific start," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "The difference was our team, after we got down 14, we came right back, showed resolve and won a game in a manner that I really wanted to see if we could be tested, have some adversity and be able to overcome."
In all, there were nine turnovers in this game -- five by San Diego State and four by the Bulldogs. Fresno State outgained SDSU 655-339 yards, and the 40 points given up didn't truly reflect the efforts of the defensive unit. SDSU returned both of Carr's picks in the game for touchdowns for 14 points.
The Bulldogs held the Aztecs to 82 total yards in the second half, and the five turnovers forced were a season-high. Fresno State now has forced 16 turnovers on the year.
"It's big. We needed those turnovers," said safety Phillip Thomas, who had two interceptions. "They are what win the games. We just put the dagger in them. It's a big moment when things like that happen."
Andy Jennings forced two fumbles and Derron Smith had his third interception of the season in addition to Thomas' two picks. Thomas now has three career multi-interception games. His five picks on the year leads the country and is the most by a Bulldog since Cameron Worrell had five interceptions in 2002. Thomas still has seven games left on the schedule.
Offensively, Carr was backed by a good night from his offensive line and receivers.
Three Bulldogs -- Josh Harper (nine receptions, 120 yards, one TD), Davante Adams (eight receptions, 102 yards) and Rashad Evans (10 receptions, 100 yards, three TDs) -- all had over 100 yards receiving. This marks the second time in school history that three Bulldogs have had over 100 yards receiving in the same game.
For Evans, it was his night. He was playing for the first time this year after having to sit out the first four games. His three touchdown catches tied for the second most in a game in school history.
"Our o-line, they don't really get a lot of credit, but they played great," Evans said. "They allowed [Carr] to throw for 500 yards. He's a great quarterback, and we all know that. He was on fire, and I reaped the benefits."
Travis Brown led the defense with a season-high nine tackles, and Fresno State had five sacks in the game, two by Jennings.