No. 25 Fresno State holds off Hawaii, 42-37

The Associated Press
No. 25 Fresno State holds off Hawaii, 42-37
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Fresno State linebacker Kyrie Wilson (17) looks on as his teammates Charles Washington (28) and Donavon Lewis (27) sack Hawaii quarterback Ikaika Woolsey (15) first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

HONOLULU (AP) -- Fresno State had its way with Hawaii for 2 1/2 quarters, then had to hold off the Rainbow Warriors' bid for a big comeback.

Derek Carr passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns - both to Josh Harper - and Marteze Waller added two rushing scores to help the 25th-ranked Bulldogs build a 39-point lead before pulling out 42-37 win Saturday night.

Trailing 42-3 with 6:15 left in the third quarter, Hawaii scored 34 unanswered points and had a chance to get the improbable win before L.J. Jones picked off Sean Schroeder's Hail Mary pass short of the end zone for his second interception of the game.

Jones returned the first pick - off Hawaii starter Ikaika Woolsey - 56 yards to give the Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 Mountain West) the 39-point lead in the third quarter.

''Anytime you go 1-0 in a week, especially on the road, in conference, you're happy,'' Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter said. ''We've got a ton of things we got to correct. We've got to do a much better job at ball security, we've got to keep people in front of us and make tackles on defense. Again, we're 1-0 this week, that's our ultimate goal. We'll take ugly wins as long as they're wins.''

The Bulldogs appeared well on their way to an easy road win with leads of 14-0 after the first quarter and 21-3 at halftime, but the Rainbow Warriors (0-4, 0-2) mounted a furious comeback try.

''I knew we had a big lead, I knew at some point we're going to make a stop,'' DeRuyter said. ''You've got to give them credit; they never gave up. We gave them momentum by turning the ball over and putting tough spots on our defense. They made some plays, (the) quarterback scrambled around extending some plays, they made some catches that were contested and made guys miss. My thought was we've just got to make a stop.''

DeRuyter got the stop he was hoping for on the game's final play. Jones' two interceptions marked the 17th straight game the Bulldogs forced a turnover and they have 26 picks over that stretch.

''Anything's possible, anything can happen in a football game,'' Jones said. ''We just had to keep playing. We have full confidence in our offense. We know that in any given moment we can score and that in any given moment we can stop them.''

Carr completed 33 of 47 passes but was intercepted twice in the second half, ending a streak of 181 consecutive passes without a pick. He has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 24 consecutive games.

Harper had nine receptions for 123 yards, including touchdown catches of 30 and 9 yards. Waller finished with 95 yards rushing on 22 carries with two 1-yard scoring runs. The Bulldogs had a season-high 206 yards rushing and picked up 31 first downs for the game.

The Bulldogs came up with 10 tackles for losses, including seven sacks for a loss of 46 yards. Kyrie Wilson made a game-high 11 tackles and Ejiro Ederaine and Donavon Lewis had two sacks apiece.

''We have a bunch of gamers that are in great shape and they love to compete, but we've got a lot we need to work on,'' DeRuyter said of his defense. ''We got put in some tough spots with our turnovers, but we're still good enough to get stops. We're a work in press and we're hopefully going to get better for next week.''

Hawaii totaled a season-high 431 yards, including 316 after halftime. Schroeder relieved Woolsey in the third quarter and was 17 of 27 for 321 yards passing and three touchdowns. Woolsey, a redshirt freshman who was making his first career start, was 7 of 19 for 56 yards and the one interception.

Steven Lakalaka rushed for two second-half TDs.

Fresno State, which scored on its first two drives of both halves, held leads of 14-0 after the first quarter and 21-3 at halftime.

The Bulldogs came up with 10 tackles for losses, including seven sacks for a loss of 46 yards. Kyrie Wilson made a game-high 11 tackles and Ejiro Ederaine and Donavon Lewis had two sacks apiece.

Hawaii was penalized 10 times for 95 yards to Fresno State's five penalties for 61 yards.

''We don't like losing especially when we know we had a chance, but we have to approach every game the right way and right from the start,'' Hawaii coach Norm Chow said. ''We can't get quarters back. We're playing some great football teams and we can't afford to fall behind like we did.''

The Bulldogs' Davante Adams had his string of 11 straight games with a touchdown reception broken. It is the first time since 2001 that the Bulldogs have started 4-0. Fresno State now leads the all-time series with Hawaii 24-21-2.

Fresno State wide receiver Isaiah Burse was flagged for targeting with 8:27 left in the first quarter for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a Hawaii defender after an 11-yard pass from Carr to Harper. The Bulldogs were assessed a 15-yard penalty and Burse was disqualified for the rest of the game. The play went under review, but the call stood.