Fresno State quarterback Kevin Sweeney set a major college career passing record Saturday night as he led the Bulldogs to a 14-7 victory over Utah State.
Sweeney passed for 216 yards in his final collegiate game to finish with 10,623 yards and oust Doug Flutie from first place on the NCAA Division I-A career passing list.
Flutie had 10,579 yards for Boston College from 1981 through 1984. The all-time collegiate record of 13,220 yards was set by Neil Lomax of Portland State, a Division I-AA team, from 1977 through 1980.
The Bulldogs mobbed Sweeney after he set the record with an 11-yard pass to Stephen Baker in the second quarter.
Sweeney also tied the NCAA record for 200-yard passing games with his 30th. That mark is shared by Flutie and Doug McClure, formerly of Bowling Green.
Even though the Bulldogs (9-2) dominated first-half action, they led only 7-0 at intermission. That score came on a seven-yard pass to flanker Ron Jenkins on the series before Sweeney set the record.
Early in the fourth quarter, Fresno State’s James Rivera tackled the Aggie kicker near their goal line, and tailback James Williams scored the Bulldogs’ second touchdown, from one yard out.
Utah State (3-8) scored in the fourth quarter on a one-yard run by Timo Tagaloa.
Flutie, now with the Chicago Bears, sent Sweeney a telegram Thursday offering best wishes on the attempt to break his record.
“Good luck this weekend in pursuit of the record,” Flutie’s telegram read. “You deserve to break it--just don’t shatter it.”
Sweeney quarterbacked the Bulldogs in every game of his four years of eligibility.
Many expected him to break the record well before this. He needed 2,320 yards when the season began and picked up 1,278 in the first four games.
But Sweeney badly bruised his right shoulder in the fourth game, hampering his throwing motion. His yards-per-game average slumped from about 320 in the first four outings to 149 over the next six games.
That left him 173 yards short of the all-time mark entering the season’s finale. The Bulldogs were out of contention for any bowls, so Coach Jim Sweeney, the quarterback’s father, urged the players to make the record a key goal.
Setting records is not new for Kevin Sweeney. As a high school senior at Fresno’s Bullard High School, he threw a then-California prep record 35 touchdown passes.
He gives his father much of the credit for his success both in high school and college.
“I had good coaching and help from Dad,” Sweeney has said. “When I was a freshman in high school, he drilled me to do things the right way so they would become natural.”
NCAA CAREER PASSING LEADERS
Player (School) Years Yds Kevin Sweeney (Fresno State) 1982-86 10,623 Doug Flutie (Boston College) 1981-84 10,579 Brian McClure (Bowling Green) 1982-85 10,280 Ben Bennett (Duke) 1980-83 9,614 Jim McMahon (BYU) 1977-78 9,536 1980-81 John Elway (Stanford) 1979-82 9,349 Chuck Long (Iowa) 1981-85 9,210 Mark Herrmann (Purdue) 1977-80 9,188