FRESNO, CALIFORNIA – Coming into Saturday’s game, the Fresno State Bulldogs were sitting at 2-5 in the Mountain West and 3-8 overall. The Rams entered the matchup at 4-3 in MW play and 6-5 overall and if they were expecting to come into Fresno and roll over the Bulldogs – they received a first half wake-up call.
Colorado State displayed true resiliency in their victory over the Bulldogs, overcoming a 24-14 lead going into halftime and finishing the game 34-31.
Below is reaction to the win from the coaches and players who were able to hang on and pull it off in the end.
Hansley has a day to remember
Senior wide receiver Joe Hansley has become known for making plays with the ball in his hands, but Saturday’s performance may have been the best of his career. Simply put, without Hansley the Rams do not win the football game against the Bulldogs.
Hansley had 182 all-purpose yards and a team-high 3 receptions for 46 yards, a touchdown through the air, and two touchdowns coming off of big punt returns.
“I love seeing Joe run, he’s just elusive, he’s fast, he’s got moves to put on people and I was just right there blocking for him every opportunity I had,” defensive back Kevin Nutt, Jr. said.” You have to block for him and you’ve got to be there for him.”
Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo also recognized Hansley’s stellar performance.
“We were sputtering but Joe just kept playing football,” Bobo said. “Some of the other guys were looking around like, ‘what’s wrong coach, what’s wrong’ … Joe just kept playing and when he had an opportunity to make a play he did.”
Bobo did not limit Hansley’s value to the team to just one game, though.
“(I’m) proud of Joe for the way he’s played all year and to come out in his last regular season game and have the impact he did … we don’t win the football game tonight without the plays that Joe made,” Bobo said.
One of the most exciting and game-changing plays that came on Saturday was Hansley’s second punt-return touchdown. Bobo described his view on the play.
“The one right before the half was just really a great individual effort by him, it was one of those where you are yelling, ‘get down, get down,’ so you can have time to try to score before half and he just kept playing,” Bobo said. “Reverses field, fixed his face mask and took it to the house.”
Hansley credits the whole special teams unit for his success on Saturday.
“The punt return team, they did a great job. Guys like Rashard out there; he’s busting his butt out there every play trying to get me loose, so it was a good team effort by everyone,” Hansley said.
The victory and none of the exciting plays happen without the Rams being resilient and not quitting until the game was over.
“It just shows a lot of resilience in this football team and an ability to bounce back and I’ve been talking about that all year,” Bobo said. “It’s a process, you’ve got to stay the course and keep doing what we are doing and we’ve got to believe in each other.”
Having that faith in one another may have been just the key to staying resilient, calm, and pulling out the win in the end.
“We just had to shut it down and start doing our jobs,” senior defensive lineman Martavius Foster said. “We had too many guys trying to do other people’s jobs and not do what they are supposed to do, so we just talked as a defense and started to believe in each other and we came out in the second half and did our thing.”
Junior linebacker Kevin Davis also highlighted how important staying together was.
“We talked about what we had to do and we stayed calm together and talked each other through things and it turned out good,” Davis said. “… It was awesome to see us playing in all three phases of the game … and staying together really and finishing strong.”
Time to go bowling
All that remains for the Rams now is a bowl game appearance, which at certain points of the season seemed almost out of reach, making it that much sweeter for the team now.
“I don’t care (what bowl game), it’s just awesome to be able to see this team play one more time,” Davis said.
Nutt, Jr. further demonstrated that the specific bowl game does not matter, what does matter is that they made it this far.
“Not really, we are happy as long as we are in one … I really want to send the seniors out with a bowl game, that’s the most important thing to me is to send them out with a win,” Nutt, Jr. said.
Collegian Football Reporter Geoff Huebner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Huebnermedia93.