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Fresno State Buries Titans, 42-7 : Sweeney’s Bulldogs Total 566 Yards in PCAA Romp

Times Staff Writer

Last week, Fresno State Coach Jim Sweeney did something he’s never done before. He voted for his team in the UPI poll.

First, he pegged the Bulldogs as No. 13 in the nation, but after viewing films of their win over Utah State, he called back and changed it to eighth.

When Sweeney sees the movies of Saturday’s 42-7 Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. romp over Cal State Fullerton, he might put his red-hot ‘Dogs at No. 1.

This team doesn’t need a coach, it needs a band director. Saturday, before a sell-out crowd of 30,514 in Bulldog Stadium, Fresno State put together more marches than John Philip Sousa did in a good year.

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Fresno put together touchdown drives of 28, 82, 76, 18, 59 and 69 yards and twice drove more than 80 yards without scoring.

The Bulldogs rolled up 29 first downs and 566 yards of total offense to run their unbeaten string to eight. They converted 10 of 16 third-down situations and averaged more than 6 yards per play.

Sweeney has been raving about his team’s balance, and Fresno State showed they could do it all. Quarterback Kevin Sweeney, the coach’s son, completed 24 of 35 passes for 284 yards and 2 touchdowns--and he didn’t even play most of the fourth quarter.

“That might of been the greatest game he’s ever played,” the elder Sweeney said.

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He should have saved it. The Bulldogs, who rushed for 272 yards, could have won this one without ever putting the ball in the air.

Fullerton managed 213 yards (most of which came late in the game against Fresno’s reserves) and was shutout for the final 59 minutes and 48 seconds.

“We’re taking all the players and coaches in for rabies shots Monday,” Titan Coach Gene Murphy said. He had a long time to think about the line. The Dogs had been biting all day.

Fresno is 5-0 in conference, 7-0-1 overall and in line to win the conference crown. Only Cal State Long Beach has a mathematical chance to stop the Bulldogs drive for the Cal Bowl here Dec. 14. The Titans (2-2, 2-5) now have only a slim chance of tying for the conference crown.

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“Fresno is a good football team . . . a great football team,” said Bob Burt, Titan defensive coordinator. “Hell, they’re the best football team on the West Coast.”

The Dogs couldn’t have been much better Saturday. Except for a 12-second lapse after the national anthem, one fumble and a couple of dropped passes, they approached perfection.

About half of the overflow crowd of red-clad Bulldog fans were still in the parking lot putting away their hibachis when Fullerton scored. Wade Lockett took the opening kickoff out of the hands of Ricky Calhoun one-yard deep in the end zone, sprinted to the sidelines, slipped past a couple of blocks and went all the way untouched to give the Titans a 7-0 advantage.

They got their lead in 12 seconds. But they kept it for less than 10 minutes.

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Six minutes later, Fullerton had a chance to increase its advantage, but Len Strandley missed a 25-yard field goal and it was all Fresno State after that.

The Bulldogs tied the game after Michael Stewart recovered a Burness Scott fumble at the 28 and Kelly Skipper dove over from one-yard out. Then they went up, 14-7, when Skipper culminated an 82-yard, 11-play drive with a nifty 13-yard jaunt through the middle of the Titan defense. Skipper finished with 83 yards on 14 carries.

Fullerton was most fortunate to be trailing by just one touchdown at halftime. The Titans had 79 yards of total offense. Fresno had 250.

And then it got one-sided.

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Three minutes into the second half, the Bulldogs were ahead, 28-7. Their first score came on a 28-yard pass play from Sweeney to Stephen Baker. Baker bounced off safety Mike Romero at the 20, spun around and breezed into the end zone.

But Baker was saving his best running for a reverse that came just 13 seconds later, after Lockett fumbled the kickoff and Derrick Allen recovered for Fresno at Titan 18. Baker took the handoff, raced around right end and then hurdled Titan Ted Hinton at the 10 en route to the end zone.

Murphy brought in freshman quarterback Tony Dill, but the Red Wave had already washed away any hopes for a Fullerton comeback on this afternoon.

The Bulldogs scored twice more--on a six-yard Sweeney-to-Gene Taylor touchdown pass and a two-yard run by James Williams with the second-team offense on the field--to hand the Titans their worst defeat since 1979 when they lost to University of the Pacific, 49-7.

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“We were still in it at halftime,” Murphy said, “and then, zoop, here they come.”

And down the Titans went. For the count.


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