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La. Tech flattens Fresno hopes

No BCS-busting for Bulldogs after losing in Ruston

Louisiana Tech running back Ryan Moats (20) tries to fend off Fresno State defensive back Richard Marshall in Fresno's upset loss Saturday.
Louisiana Tech running back Ryan Moats (20) tries to fend off Fresno State defensive back Richard Marshall in Fresno's upset loss Saturday.
Michael Dunlap, Associated Press

RUSTON, La. — Because Ryan Moats refused to rest, No. 17 Fresno State won't bust the BCS.

Moats scored his fourth touchdown with less than four minutes left and ran for 236 yards to lead Louisiana Tech to a 28-21 victory Saturday night.

"I knew I had to carry the load," said Moats, who had 34 carries. "I know I just can't get tired, and I just want the team to keep giving me the ball."

The nation's fifth-leading rusher, Moats scored from 8 yards out with 3:20 remaining to help Tech beat a ranked team for the second time in school history.

"The biggest victory we have had here, by a long way," Tech coach Jack Bicknell said.

A two-touchdown favorite, Fresno State led 21-20 with four minutes left and was trying to run out the clock. But Byron Santiago intercepted a pass by Paul Pinegar and returned it to the 16. Moats scored two plays later, and Matt Kubik hit Eric Newman for the 2-point conversion.

Fresno State drove to the Tech 20, but Tramon Williams picked off Pinegar's pass with 1:03 remaining to seal it. Tech ran out the clock and fans flooded the field and tore down both goal posts in a matter of seconds.

"We needed to get one of these games, and we did," Bicknell said.

So much for Fresno State playing a bowl game in January.

After impressive road wins at Washington and Kansas State, Fresno State allowed itself to dream of the BCS — just as it did three years ago, the last time it was ranked.

But once again, Fresno State's chances at a high-profile bowl evaporated because they couldn't beat a Western Athletic Conference foe on its home field. Boise State spoiled Fresno State's season then and has won all three of the meetings since joining the conference in 2001.

The 23rd-ranked Broncos and Fresno State play Oct. 23, but that meeting doesn't have the same sizzle after the Bulldogs' loss.

"We did not execute like we needed to in order to win a road game like this," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "We now have to regroup and refocus our goals to win the WAC title and go to our sixth straight bowl game."

Kubik was 15-of-26 for 158 yards for Tech.

Moats, who entered averaging 173 yards per game, also scored on runs of 83, 6 and 1 yards.

But his fourth-quarter fumble in Tech territory nearly cost his team the game. Fresno State recovered it at the 27, and took a 21-14 lead three plays later on a 3-yard touchdown run by Wendell Mathis.

"It did not look like we could stop anyone early, but they we started playing well and things changed," Bicknell said.

Tech (3-2, 2-0 WAC) closed within a point on Moats' third TD run, but James Sanders blocked the extra-point attempt. Santiago ended Fresno State's ensuing drive with his interception.

Mathis ran for 191 yards and a touchdown to lead Fresno State (3-1, 0-1), the first ranked team to visit Ruston since Louisiana Tech moved to Division I-A 16 years ago. Last season, Tech did play Miami in Shreveport.

Louisiana Tech's only other win against a ranked team came in 1999, when it beat No. 18 Alabama 29-28 in Tuscaloosa.

Tech is in a four-game run against ranked teams; the Bulldogs were blown out by No. 4 Miami and 10th-ranked Tennessee. They visit No. 8 Auburn next week.

"This is something you dream about, but it is such a struggle with our schedule," Bicknell said. "We needed to get one of these games, and we did."

Fresno State played well early, scoring on its first two possessions and leading 13-0 late in the second quarter. But in the second half, Louisiana Tech frustrated Pinegar, who was 4-of-12 for 32 yards after halftime with both interceptions, and held Fresno State to 94 rushing yards.

Pinegar finished 13-of-28 for 104 yards with a touchdown.

"We really dominated the game early, but give Tech all the credit," Hill said. "We did not put them away, and they came back. We had some chances to knock them out but didn't finish it."