9:00 PM ET, December 2, 2005
Bulldog Stadium (CA), Fresno, CA
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- The team that nearly knocked off No. 1 Southern California now can't even win in the WAC.
Matt Kubik threw three touchdown passes, and Louisiana Tech capitalized on five turnovers to deny No. 23 Fresno State a share of the Western Athletic Conference title with a 40-28 victory Friday night.
"We had everything going for us. We controlled our destiny and we screwed it up," Fresno State defensive lineman Garrett McIntyre said. "I don't think this team knows how to handle success very well. We proved that the last three games."
Fresno State (8-4, 6-2) was in control of the WAC after ending a four-game losing streak to Boise State with a 27-7 win Nov. 10. Then came the trip to Los Angeles when Fresno State put a scare into USC and caught the attention of the nation before falling 50-42.
That led to a Liberty Bowl bid even though Fresno State had two games left and hadn't wrapped up the conference title. The emotions of the two big games appeared to have taken a toll on Fresno State, which lost 38-35 at Nevada last week before the collapse against Louisiana Tech (7-4, 6-2).
"I watched the USC game and said, 'Oh my god," Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell said. "To come out here to this place and do this is unbelievable."
Boise State and Nevada are co-champions of the WAC. Louisiana Tech tied Fresno State for third, but its chances at a bowl bid are slim. Louisiana Tech could go to the Las Vegas Bowl if Oregon makes the BCS and or the Motor City Bowl if Ohio State goes to the BCS.
"These kids certainly deserve to go," Bicknell said. "I don't know how the whole thing works."
Kubik threw two TD passes in the final 2:03 of the first half to put Louisiana Tech in control and added a 30-yarder to Eric Newman in the third quarter after Fresno State scored on its first drive of the second half. He finished 13-for-22 for 251 yards.
Freddie Franklin, who missed the last three games with a sprained ankle, ran for 120 yards and a touchdown. Newman caught three passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
Paul Pinegar went 33-for-54 for 358 yards and three interceptions in his final home start, with most of the yardage coming after Louisiana Tech took the big lead. Pinegar threw eight interceptions in his final three games after throwing only five in the first nine.
"We knew what we had in front of us. We had two chances to win at least a co-championship and we didn't get it done," Pinegar said. "It's frustrating, especially being a senior, that we didn't get it done."
Pinegar threw three touchdown passes, and Quaadir Brown returned a fumble 77 yards for a score in the second half but it wasn't enough to overcome a mistake-filled first half.
Fresno State fumbled twice, threw two interceptions, botched a field-goal attempt, committed a personal foul to extend a touchdown drive and another penalty to negate a touchdown of its own, helping Louisiana Tech break out to a 26-3 lead.
"I really don't have any answers right now," coach Pat Hill said. "I don't understand five turnovers. I don't understand the personal fouls we had in that game. I really don't have the answers to those things."
Both teams drove inside the 10 on their opening drives only to settle for field goals. Fresno State had a kickoff return for a touchdown by Adam Jennings called back because of a holding call on Richard Marshall before Kyle Zimmerman's 24-yard field goal.
Fresno State then botched a field goal attempt when holder Jason Christensen got the ball down a little late and Zimmerman decided not to attempt a kick.
Kubik hit a wide-open Mark Dillard on a 49-yard pass on the next play, but Fresno State appeared to hold when Kubik was forced to throw the ball away on third down from the 4. Louis Leonard, however, hit Kubik late to give Louisiana Tech a first down, and Dillard ran it in from the 2.
Pinegar threw interceptions on the next two drives, setting up two touchdown passes by Kubik: a 17-yarder to Newman and a 52-yarder to Johnathan Holland with 28 seconds left in the half.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Matt Kubik hit Johnathan Holland for a 52-yard touchdown with less than 30 seconds left in the first half to make the score 26-3 in favor of Louisiana Tech.
Gameball goes to... Kubik. The senior quarterback was 13-of-22 for 250 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs.
Stat of the game... 5. If Fresno State wants to know why it lost on Friday, the team need only look at its turnovers -- 3 INTs, 2 lost fumbles.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-17||3-12|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||5-7|
|FG||7:20||Louisiana Tech 26 yard field goal GOOD.||3||0|
|FG||4:11||Fresno St 24 yard field goal GOOD.||3||3|
|FG||5:04||Louisiana Tech 22 yard field goal GOOD.||6||3|
|3:22||Louisiana Tech rush for a touchdown.||12||3|
|0:41||Louisiana Tech pass complete for a touchdown.||18||3|
|0:28||Louisiana Tech pass complete for a touchdown.||25||3|
|11:37||Fresno St pass complete for a touchdown.||26||9|
|4:45||Louisiana Tech pass complete for a touchdown.||32||10|
|12:45||Fresno St pass complete for a touchdown.||33||16|
|3:12||Louisiana Tech rush for a touchdown.||39||22|
|2:07||Fresno St pass complete for a touchdown.||40||28|