Fresno’s Sweeney Wins in Return to Pullman : Nonconference: Lead exchanges hands seven times, with Bulldogs coming out on top, 34-30.
Fresno State Coach Jim Sweeney, who left Washington State in 1975, made a trip back to Pullman Saturday, and his Bulldogs came away with a 34-30 victory.
The lead exchanged hands seven times.
“It was a tremendous lesson for (the Bulldogs),” Sweeney said. “The momentum in a tough game like this shifts six or seven times. Your players, if they’re used to winning by big scores like our players are, they’re not used to playing like that.”
Fresno State (2-0) was a 55-7 winner over Northern Illinois in its opener. Washington State (0-2) was coming off a 40-14 Pacific 10 loss to Oregon.
“I think this has to be one of the best games as far as excitement is concerned--swinging of the momentum back and forth--that I’ve ever been involved in any place,” Sweeney said.
Mark Barsotti threw for two touchdowns and Ron Rivers rushed for two more to cap long Fresno drives.
“Ron Rivers ran extremely well and made a great pass under pressure,” Sweeney said. “But in the final analysis, Barsotti was the key because Barsotti put the pressure on them with a couple of new option plays that we put in for the game and changed the way we ran it in the second half.”
Barsotti completed 20 of 28 passes for 328 yards and touchdowns of 10 and five yards. Rivers rushed seven times for 45 yards, including second-half touchdown runs of six and 12 yards. The 12-yarder came with 3:55 left to play, and was the difference.
Washington State Coach Mike Price said he was bitterly disappointed by the loss.
“I think our players improved. I asked them to do two or three things,” Price said. “One of them was to get better from last week. I think we did that. And play hard. Our players played real hard.
“They gave everything they had and came up short. That’s all I can ask for,” Price said.
Lorenzo Neal scored both Fresno State first-half touchdowns on a one-yard run and a 10-yard pass from Barsotti.
The Bulldogs held a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter before Shaumbe Wright-Fair scored on runs of one and 13 yards and Washington State took a 19-14 halftime lead.
Washington State kicker Jason Hanson had field goals of 47, 50 and 54 yards and tied the NCAA career record of 16 field goals of 50 yards or longer, set by Tony Franklin of Texas A&M.; Hanson’s 32 field goals of 40 yards or more broke the NCAA record of 31, set by Russell Erxleben of Texas.