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The Milk Can Trophy returns to Fresno as Bulldogs defeat Broncos

Alzillion+Hamilton+makes+an+interception+during+the+first+half+against+Boise+State+at+Valley+Childrens+Stadium.+
Carlos Rene Castro/The Collegian
Al’zillion Hamilton makes an interception during the first half against Boise State at Valley Children’s Stadium.

For the first time since 2017, Fresno State defeated Boise State in a regular season game, beating them 37-30 at Valley Children’s Stadium to regain the Milk Can trophy.

Even though the ‘Dogs defeated the Broncos in the 2018 and in the 2022 Mountain West championships, the Milk Can is only awarded to the team that wins the regular season matchup. 

The team was led by running back Malik Sherrod, who scored two touchdowns and had 245 total yards between rushing, receiving and return yards.

“That guy played possessed tonight,” said Head Coach Jeff Tedford.

After the last game, when a noticeable number of fans left early, Tedford praised the impact the Red Wave made during this win.

“Our fans were totally different tonight,” Tedford said. “It was great to see them like that tonight.”

The team was looking to avenge a 40-14 loss the last time Fresno State hosted its rival in 2021.

For the second straight game, Fresno State scored a touchdown on its opening drive. QB Mikey Keene found tight end Tre Watson in the endzone with just under three minutes into the game to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead. This was Waston’s third touchdown in his last three games.

After forcing the Broncos to go three-and-out on their first possession, the ‘Dogs took a 10-0 lead with a 48-yard field goal from kicker Dylan Lynch. During that drive, the ‘Dogs had a chance to have another big play, but wide receiver Jaelen Gill was unable to reel in Keene’s deep throw. 

On its second drive, Boise State used its two quarterbacks, a tactic it has employed for large portions of the season. Its primary quarterback for the past few weeks, Maddux Madsen, played most of the drive. Its other quarterback, Taylen Green came in and ran for a first down. 

On third down with the Broncos on the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line, defensive lineman Devo Bridges sacked Madsen for a loss of 8 yards. The sack gave Bridges 2.5 on the year. 

The Broncos were able to cut the lead to 10-3, with kicker Jonah Dalmas making his 45 yard attempt.

With Boise State threatening to score, Fresno State’s defense got its first takeaway of the game after linebacker Phoenix Jackson recorded his first interception of the year on a 3rd and 10 pass from Madsen. 

The ‘Dogs capitalized off the turnover, adding three more points with a 22 yard field goal from Lynch to take a 13-3 lead. During the drive, the ‘Dogs got first down catches from Mac Dalena, Josiah Freeman and Watson.

Fresno State kept the turnover momentum going as cornerback Al’zillion Hamiltion intercepted a deep throw by Green. The interception was Hamilton’s second of the year and the sixth thrown by Green. 

This time, the ‘Dogs were unable to take advantage as they were forced to punt. 

The Broncos took advantage and scored their first touchdown of the game on a 2-yard Madsen pass to Billy Bowens to make it a three point game.

The once lively Bulldog crowd was suddenly silent. 

Then, lightning struck. After the touchdown, the Broncos did a squib kick, which often limits the likelihood of a big return. That was not the case for the Broncos, as Bulldog running back Malik Sherrod returned it 95 yards all the way for a touchdown on the last play of the half to give the ‘Dogs a 20-10 lead. 

“It felt like Nikko [Remigio’s] return from last year,” said linebacker Levelle Bailey.

Fresno State kept the momentum going at the start of the second half. Its defense forced a punt as Boise State only had possession for 58 seconds. Then, on offense, Fresno State had a 14 play seven minute drive that ended in an Elijah Gilliam 2 yard touchdown run to put Fresno State up 27-10. The touchdown was the running back’s first since Sept. 23 against Kent State.

The Broncos responded with a touchdown drive of their own, resulting in a 1 yard touchdown run from George Holani to once again make it a 10-point game.

Boise State opened up the fourth quarter with some trickery. On 4th and 13, punter James Ferguson-Reynolds made a 21-yard completion to defensive end Jayden Virgin. The drive ended with another Dalmas field goal to make it a 27-20 game. 

The ‘Dogs answered back with three points of their own after Lynch made his third field goal of the night to once again make it a 10-point lead. The big play of the drive was a 23 yard pass from Keene to Dalena.  

With under 4:40 left in the game, Boise State made it a 30-27 game with a 27 yard touchdown run from Madsen. 

Just like he did in the first half, Sherrod had a huge 52 yard touchdown run to ignite the nervous crowd and seal the win for the ‘Dogs. 

With the win, the ‘Dogs improve to 8-1 and are in sole possession of second place in the Mountain West at 4-1. 

Both teams came into this game at 3-1 and in a second place tie. 

Fresno State will head to the Bay Area to take on San Jose State on Nov. 11 in the Battle for the Valley. 

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