INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Jordan Mims and Jake Haener helped complete the biggest in-season turnaround in Football Bowl Subdivision history in their final game for Fresno State.
Mims rushed for a career-high 205 yards and two scores, Haener threw two TD passes and the Bulldogs rolled to a 29-6 victory over Washington State in the LA Bowl on Saturday.
Fresno State — which won the Mountain West Conference title — is the first team to get to 10 wins after dropping four of the first five. The Bulldogs (10-4) were 1-4 in early October before winning their final nine games.
“We set history today. Every guy in that locker room day in and day out has been resilient and positive,” said Haener, who completed 24 of 36 passes for 284 yards.
Mims — who was selected as game’s offensive MVP — accounted for 232 all-purpose yards and outgained Washington State, which had 182 offensive yards. Both of Mims’ touchdowns were on direct snaps out of the Wildcat formation.
Early in the second quarter, the senior went 4 yards around left end to give the Bulldogs a 14-0 advantage. In the fourth quarter, he carried it 2 yards up the middle to make it 29-6.
“It felt surreal. I knew I had a pretty solid game. Our line did their thing and I followed them,” Mims said. “We always want to stick with the run game and pound the ball first. It was good for us to make plays on the ground and we can dish out here and there and throw shots.”
Haener connected with Zane Pope on a 22-yard touchdown to complete the Bulldogs’ opening possession. He added an 11-yard score to Nikko Remigio late in the third quarter to extend the lead to 22-6.
Cameron Ward was 22 of 32 for 137 yards for Washington State (7-6).
Nakia Watson rushed for 33 yards and had the Cougars only touchdown in the third quarter, when he scored from 1 yard to bring Washington State within 16-6.
“I don’t think we ever got in a rhythm. We never established running the football which is a key piece to what we always want to do,” coach Jake Dickert said. “Those are some things as we watch the tape that we’ll kind of hopefully lean into and learn.”
Fresno State made it 16-0 with a safety in the second quarter. On third-and-14 from the Cougars’ 3-yard line, Ward was pressured by Bulldogs’ defensive lineman Leonard Payne Jr. and stepped on the end line in the back of the end zone.
It was the second time in the last three games the Bulldogs have scored on a safety.
HOW ‘BOUT THEM APPLES?
Haener began his career at the University of Washington. He spent two seasons there but transferred in 2019 after losing the QB competition in fall camp.
Haener never played in the Apple Cup rivalry game against Washington State, but had his own personal victory on Saturday.
In a post on social media, Haener looked into the camera with an apple and said “this is my Apple Cup.” He took a bite of the apple and tossed into the air before saying “I love it.”
Fresno State: The Bulldogs have won four straight bowl games and have their second consecutive season with double-digit victories. It also completes a great first year for Jeff Tedford, who is in his second stint at Fresno State after Kalen DeBoer left for Washington.
“There’s a lot of teams where people opt out of games. I didn’t hear any talk about that because our players have commitment to each other and want to do something special,” Tedford said. “I think that’s a real tribute to the guys on our team.”
Washington State: The Cougars have dropped their last three bowl games but were short-handed after both coordinators left for other positions. Washington State also was impacted at wide receiver and linebacker with players opting out of the game or putting their name in the transfer portal.
“I thought operationally we were pretty good. We just needed to get in a little bit more rhythm and establish some toughness which we just weren’t able to do,” Dickert said.