Saturday, December 31, 2005
Tulsa 31, Fresno State 24
Recap and Boxscore
Fresno State failed to end it's three game losing streak today in Memphis against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane fought back in the second half overcoming a seven point deficient. The Bulldogs took control of the game in the third quarter. However, Paul Pinegar fell apart in the fourth. After throwing the go ahead score on his first pass of the fourth quarter, he followed it up by throwing bad passes on four straight possessions to end the game. The first two were overthrown on key third downs when Fresno State could have put the game away. The last two were interceptions which ultimately lost the game for Fresno State.
The Bulldogs came out ready to pound the football to start the game. They ran all but two plays on their opening possession, but failed to convert a 4th and short inside the Tulsa 10 yard line. It was a sign of things to come. Fresno State was unable to convert three key third and shorts on ground. It was not until the second play in the fourth quarter that the coaching staff decided to pass instead of run on third and short. The result was Pinegar's only touchdown pass of the game and the lead.
After stopping Tulsa on the ensuing possession, the Bulldog offense had decent field position after the punt. The offense was unable to capitalize as Pinegar made his first truly bad pass as he overthrew a wide open Adam Jennings on 3rd and 8. The Fresno State defense would stop Tulsa cold once again with just under nine minutes to play in the game. On a key 3rd and 6, Pinegar would make his second bad throw of the game. The overthrown pass to Jennings ended another drive that could have put the game out of reach for Tulsa.
The Bulldogs were forced to kick the ball away, but Mike Lingua's punt only traveled 15 yards. It gave the Golden Hurricane excellent field position to get back into the game. Tulsa did not squander this opportunity. Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith hit wide receiver Ashlan Davis with a 55 yard pass to tie the game up at 24. Fresno State would get the ball with about 6 minutes to play, but Pinegar threw his first interception. Tulsa would score the go ahead touchdown with 2:55 to play.
Down 31-24, Pinegar had one last chance to make history, redeem himself and solidify his spot in Bulldog lore. It seemed he would, as he hit wide open receivers to start the final drive. The suddenly hot Pinegar drove the 'Dogs inside the Tulsa 40 yard line. Looking to dump off the ball to Matt Rivera to avoid a sack, he threw the ball directly into the hands of a Tulsa defender.
Tulsa would run out the last two minutes of the game and come away with a well deserved win. Fresno State now has its first four game losing streak since 1984. Pat Hill didn't even lose four in a row his first year with only about 60 scholarship players back in 1997. The 2005 team was his best ever, and they ended the season with four straight defeats.
Will Hill make some changes to his coaching philosophy? Probably not, he is as stubborn as an old mule. To fire him would be the dumbest thing the university could do, so then what? One more year will give him 10 seasons as head coach, and a good barometer to rate his success. There has only been one Western Athletic Conference title, but there have been other numerous accomplishments that can't be put on a trophy.
Fresno State football will live and die by Pat Hill. If he leaves his replacement will have some big shoes to fill. If he is fired, it only puts a black eye on an already troubled athletic department. Hill is a very respected coach and has built a good program at very unrespected school from a laughing stock of a conference.
It sucks to lose four straight, but its not like the Bulldogs finished the season 4-7. The 2006 season is just around the corner.