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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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Fresno State football defeats Purdue in season opener

The+Fresno+State+football+team+heads+down+the+ramp+at+Valley+Childrens+Stadium+before+one+of+its+fall+camp+scrimmages.+
Blake Wolf
The Fresno State football team heads down the ramp at Valley Children’s Stadium before one of its fall camp scrimmages.

Fresno State quarterback Mikey Keene and the ‘Dogs fought to the end, coming out victorious with a final score of 39-35 in their season opener. 

In the week leading up to the game, Keene was named starter for the Bulldogs in the quarterback position to lead the offense against Purdue.

In 2022, Keene started four games for the University of Central Florida totaling 647 yards, four touchdowns and one interception before transferring to Fresno State.   

“That guy approaches games similar to Jake [Haener] as far as his film study and preparation each and every day. I watch film with that guy every now and then and I like to pick his brain to see what he sees so that we can try and get on the same page,” said Fresno State wide receiver Erik Brooks.

The chemistry showed up between Keene and Brooks as they connected for a total of two touchdowns, racking up 170 yards against the Boilermakers.   

Fresno State traveled over 2,000 miles to Indiana and defeated Purdue University, 39-35, at the Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2. 

The game got off to a quick start for Purdue with a pass by quarterback Hudson Card to wide receiver Deion Burks that led to a touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead. 

Despite not scoring first, the ‘Dogs didn’t stay far back. At Purdue’s 29-yard line, Keene looked down the field to find Brooks wide open for a touchdown to tie the game, 7-7. 

At the four minute mark, a short kick by the Bulldogs’ punter Carson King set up the Boilermakers at Fresno State’s 49-yard line. Purdue later advanced to the goaline.

After two Bulldog penalties, the Boilermakers were faced with extra opportunities to get into the end zone. 

The Boilermakers took a 14-7 lead on a run play going into the second quarter.

Keene continued his pocket passing connecting with Brooks for 49 yards to get into the redzone. The success on offense worked once again, with a fake run play by Keene that left wide receiver Jalen Moss open on the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

The Boilermakers kept the touchdown-fest going in a back-and-forth game. After moving down the field, Burks racked up his second touchdown of the game on a 17-yard connection to take a 21-14 advantage. 

The Bulldogs took on the field at Purdue’s 20-yard line in a vital moment for the ‘Dogs to tie the game before halftime. The Boilermakers defense stayed strong, forcing a third and fifteen for the ‘Dogs, but that didn’t affect Keene and his offense. 

Fresno State converted on a screenplay to running back Elijah Gilliam to keep the drive going. 

With only one minute left in the first half, the pressure arose for Keene on a third and goal, being the last chance to tie the game, but an incomplete pass forced the ‘Dogs to settle for a field goal attempt.

After about a 7-minute possession by the Bulldogs’ kicker Dylan Lynch, he didn’t deliver any results and missed his field goal attempt. The ‘Dogs defense turned it around and forced a three-and-out on Purdue to get 20-seconds on offense. 

Just as the Bulldogs made their way into field goal range, a hard sack by the Boilermakers left Keene down after the play. 

Keene limped off the field as second string quarterback Logan Fife made his way to take his first snap of the season.

In the 2023 season, Fife appeared in 10 games in place of injured quarterback at the time, Jake Haener, averaging 892 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions.  

Taking over the offense, Fife gained extra yards for a field goal try, in which Lynch made  adjustments and was able to convert. 

The ‘Dogs trailed at halftime, 21-17.  

Starting off the third quarter the Boilermakers made one of the biggest plays of the game. For the first time in 10 years, Purdue got a punt return touchdown via Tyrone Tracy Jr. who raced through the Bulldogs’ defense for 98 yards, extending the lead for the Boilermakers, 28-17. 

Keene returned back to start the second half and appeared unaffected by his earlier injuries. The Bulldogs’ offense remained aggressive moving down the field. 

At the 18-yard line Keene found wide receiver Jaelen Gill for a touchdown. The ‘Dogs decided to go for a point try that was successful. The Bulldogs shortened the deficit 28-25 with just over 6 minutes left in the third quarter. 

In a three point matchup, Fresno State’s offense kept its momentum going. Despite not having a good run game throughout the matchup thus far, running back Malik Sherrod was able to rush in the end zone to give the ‘Dogs its first lead of the game, 32-28.

But it didn’t stop the Boilermakers. At the 5-minute mark, a 44 yard completion put the Boilermakers in scoring position. Shortly after, Devin Mockabee rushed up the center to score, taking back the Purdue lead, 35-32.

Once again, the ‘Dogs refused to back down with just over one minute left in the game. Starting at their own 21-yard line, Keene moved the offense onto the Boilermaker’s 25-yard line with quick pocket passes. 

The Brooks and Keene connection struck again. This time with a 22-yard pass to the left of the touchdown which gave the ‘Dogs a 39-35 advantage with 59 seconds left on the clock. 

The Boilermakers couldn’t convert on their last attempt to come back. The Bulldogs won their first game of the season with a final score of 39-35.

Fresno State will head back to the Valley to face off against Eastern Washington on Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Valley Children’s Stadium. Kick off is at 6 p.m.

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