Harding leads Fresno State over New Mexico State, 30-23

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LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP)—Anthony Harding had a career-high 121 yards rushing on a slippery field, and freshman Ryan Mathews ran for another 99 yards to help Fresno State beat New Mexico State 30-23 on Friday night.

The Bulldogs (8-4, 6-2 Western Athletic Conference) improved to 14-0 all-time against New Mexico State (4-9, 1-7), and now they’ll wait to see which bowl game offers them an invitation.

As a steady rain fell, Fresno State rolled up 263 yards on the ground compared with 92 for the Aggies.

Harding had 115 yards rushing in last weekend’s 45-29 win over Kansas State.

The only drawback for the Bulldogs was seeing Mathews leave in the fourth quarter with a muscle tear near his left collarbone, just 1 yard short of a 100-yard night. He won’t play in the bowl game.

The Bulldogs scored 24 straight points for a 30-13 lead after Harding’s 6-yard TD run in the third quarter. During that burst, quarterback Tom Brandstater also had a 1-run plunge and Mathews scored on a 7-yard run.

But the Aggies rallied with a 24-yard field goal from Paul Young and Chase Holbrook’s 1-yard TD run, trimming the margin to 30-23 with 5:43 remaining.

After Fresno’s Clint Stitser missed a late 24-yard field goal attempt, the Aggies took over at their own 20 with 1:04 remaining but stalled on downs near midfield.

Brandstater completed 10 of 19 passes for 205 yards, and Holbrook was 30-of-51 for 323 yards, throwing a 66-yard TD strike to Kenneth Buckley.

Remarkably, neither team committed a turnover on a wet, cold night.

The Aggies were hoping to send retiring defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer out with a victory. The former Pittsburgh Steelers assistant and ex-head coach at Missouri and Vanderbilt worked the final game of a 40-year career.

The Bulldogs are bowl-eligible for the eighth time over the past nine seasons. One possibility is a return to New Mexico in a few weeks as the WAC’s representative for the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque.

Other possible trips include WAC tie-ins with the Hawaii and Humanitarian bowls.

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