Fresno State Gets a Vote of Confidence and Marches Past Titans, 42-7

Times Staff Writer

Last week, Fresno State Coach Jim Sweeney did something he’s never done before. He voted for his own team in the United Press International 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 Bulldogs at No. 1.


This team doesn’t need a coach, it needs a band director. Before a sellout crowd of 30,514 at Bulldog Stadium, Fresno State put together more marches than John Philip Sousa did.

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 six yards per play.

Sweeney has been raving about his team’s balance, and Fresno State made the coach look good. 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,” Sweeney said.

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

Fullerton managed just 213 yards (most of which came late in the game against Fresno’s reserves), and the Titans were shut out 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 Bulldogs were biting all day.

“We weren’t just beaten, we were beat,” Murphy said.

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

“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 Bulldogs 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 Bulldog fans were still in the parking lot 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. They kept it for less than 10 minutes.

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 on Kelly Skipper’s one-yard touchdown dive, the score coming after Michael Stewart recovered a Titan fumble at the Fullerton 28. Fresno went ahead, 14-7, when Skipper culminated an 82-yard, 11-play drive with a nifty 13-yard run through the middle of the Titan defense. Skipper finished with 83 yards in 14 carries.

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

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

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