FRESNO, Calif. (AP)—Paul Pinegar’s 2-day-old son already got his first game ball, thanks to his dad’s impressive night against Fresno State’s oldest rival.
Pinegar passed for 368 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score to help the No. 21 Bulldogs warm up for a tough November schedule with a 45-7 victory over San Jose State on Saturday night.
The game capped a whirlwind week for Pinegar, who matched David Carr’s school record with the 70th touchdown pass of his career. He was 22-of-35 in a nearly flawless performance—and he took off moments after the game to be with his wife and newborn son.
“I thought he might have come out sluggish because of everything he’s had going, but he didn’t show any signs,” said Paul Williams, who caught six passes for 137 yards and a score. “We weren’t going to overlook this game anyway. Our team is pretty mature.”
Wendell Mathis ran for 105 yards and a score as Fresno State (7-1, 5-0 WAC) beat the woeful Spartans for the 12th straight time since 1990. The Bulldogs took a 31-0 lead 46 seconds into the third quarter before rolling through San Jose State’s defense for 531 total yards.
A chilled but raucous sellout crowd cheered every big play by the Bulldogs, who have won six straight and 13 of their last 14 games, with a three-point road loss to Oregon as the only blemish.
But Fresno State’s smooth season is about to get a whole lot tougher: Boise State, which has won four straight over the Bulldogs, visits Thursday night for a hugely anticipated matchup that could decide the WAC title. Both schools are unbeaten in conference play.
After that, Fresno State visits top-ranked Southern California on Nov. 19, followed by a visit to Nevada. But the Bulldogs generally finish strong: They’ve won 18 of 19 regular-season games in November and December since 2001.
“They understand what these games in November mean,” coach Pat Hill said. “Everything we did tonight was headed toward the next game.”
Afterward, Hill presented the game ball to Pinegar.
“That’s a big night,” Hill said. “Before his career is over, he’s probably going to go down in history holding every (school passing) record except total yards.”
Yonus Davis ran for a career-high 136 yards for the Spartans (1-8, 0-6), who have lost eight straight since a season-opening victory over Division I-AA Eastern Washington under new coach Dick Tomey. San Jose State has lost 15 of its last 16 since a 70-63 victory over Rice last season.
Quarterback Adam Tafralis was limited to eight passes after getting hurt in practice Thursday.
“They’re a terrific team, and they can beat you in a lot of different ways,” Tomey said. “We were woeful in the passing game, and we didn’t want to put (Tafralis) at risk. … We’re just a work in progress, and we couldn’t get them stopped.”
Al Guidry ran for a career-high 65 yards, and his 29-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter was San Jose State’s only score.
Adam Jennings caught a 27-yard TD pass from Pinegar on the Bulldogs’ 89-yard opening drive, and Bryson Sumlin ran for an 11-yard score moments later. Pinegar then scrambled past several potential tacklers for a 5-yard TD run early in the second quarter.
“We knew if we took care of the running game, that would open up everything for us,” said Mathis, who has scored a touchdown in every game this season. “We tried to be balanced, and that set us up for a lot of big plays.”
The Bulldogs went up by 31 in the opening seconds of the third quarter on Pinegar’s 37-yard pass to Williams, who leaped to catch the ball before gracefully diving over a fallen cornerback and into the end zone.
Fresno State also showed off its usual expertise on special teams. Jennings, among the nation’s leaders in punt returns, raced 59 yards to the San Jose State 2 after fielding a short punt late in the third quarter, setting up Matt Rivera’s TD catch.
Hill kept his first-stringers in the game with a 38-point lead and 11 minutes to play, and it could have cost him. Rivera, the Bulldogs’ versatile No. 3 tailback, was carried to the bench with an ankle injury—and moments later, tight end Devyn McDonald limped off, favoring his left leg.