FRESNO, Calif. (AP)—Joe Fernandez caught two touchdown passes from Paul Pinegar, and Fresno State erased an early deficit with 46 consecutive points to defeat Utah State 53-21 on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs (4-1, 2-0 Western Athletic Conference) also took advantage of four Aggies turnovers, scoring 19 points off miscues while controlling the clock and limiting Utah State to 44 yards rushing.
Fresno State’s run-heavy offense produced 193 yards rushing, including 97 for Wendell Mathis and 63 for Bryson Sumlin. Both also ran for second-half scores.
Pinegar was 10-of-17 for 138 yards, improving to 28-9 in his career as a starter. The senior also ran for a touchdown, a 1-yard plunge that put the Bulldogs ahead 46-7 with 15 seconds left in the third quarter.
Fernandez finished with five catches for 56 yards, including touchdowns of 7 and 12 yards.
Utah State (2-3, 1-2) dropped its eighth straight road game in the Aggies’ first visit to Bulldog Stadium as a WAC member.
Leon Jackson was 12-of-19 for 128 yards, but his first-quarter fumble and interception both resulted in Fresno State touchdowns.
The Aggies added two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including Kevin Robinson’s 27-yard pass from backup quarterback Jerod Walker. Robinson, who attended high school in Fresno, finished with four catches for 99 yards.
Fresno State led 23-7 at halftime thanks to three Utah State turnovers and an offense that held the ball for nearly 19 minutes.
The Bulldogs got their first touchdown after Jackson fumbled at his own 1. The second came following Richard Marshall’s interception at the Aggies 35.
Clint Stitser kicked field goals of 26, 22 and 44 yards in the first half for Fresno State.
Utah State led 7-0 after Terrance Washington intercepted Pinegar’s first pass of the game, leading to 1-yard TD run by Chris Forbes, who later went to a hospital for X-rays on his neck.
Fresno State responded with fullback Roshon Vercher’s 1-yard TD run and Pinegar’s 7-yard scoring pass to Fernandez with 45 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs held the ball for nearly 19 minutes in the first half, then put the game away by outscoring the Aggies 23-0 in the third quarter, including a safety from a bad snap that sailed over punter Justin Hamblin’s head and through the end zone.
The Bulldogs entered the game averaging 42.5 points per game, which ranked seventh in the nation. The announced crowd of 42,701 was Fresno State’s first sellout of the season.