Sophomore Ronnie Rivers rushed for a career-high 212 yards on 24 carries and scored two second half touchdowns as No. 21 Fresno State rallied for a 31-20 victory over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday afternoon at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Rivers had scoring runs of 68 and five yards as Fresno State (12-2) hit the 12-win mark for the first time in the 97-year history of the program. The Bulldogs, who held the Sun Devils (7-6) to just 293 total yards, also extended their streak of holding opponents under 30 points to 25 consecutive games, tops in the nation.
Marcus McMaryion passed for 176 yards and rushed for 41 yards and a 10-yard touchdown for the Mountain West champion Bulldogs.
Fresno State, which had 11 turnovers in 13 games entering the contest, turned it over on three consecutive possessions in the third quarter, the first on a fumble by Dejonte O’Neal reaching for the pylon for what was initially called a touchdown but was later overturned on replay and called a touchback.
McMaryion, who threw just three interceptions during the regular season, was then picked off twice on back-to-back possessions, the first time by Aashari Crosswell that set up a 44-yard field goal by Brandon Ruiz to give the Sun Devils a 20-17 lead.
Two possessions later, Rivers answered with a 68-yard touchdown run up the middle with one minute left in the third quarter to give Fresno State what proved to the game-winning touchdown. He later added a 5-yard touchdown run with 5:19 left to seal the victory.
Arizona State sophomore running back Eno Benjamin rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown, breaking the school single-season record of 1,565 yards set by Woody Green in 1972. Benjamin finished the season with 1,642 yards.
Manny Wilkins completed 19 of 31 passes for 129 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Sun Devils.
The Sun Devils played without star wide receiver N’Keal Harry (73 receptions, 1,088 yards, nine TDs), who sat out the game to prepare for the NFL draft. Leading tackler Merlin Robertson, the Pac-12’s Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, missed the contest because of what was announced as a family emergency.
–Field Level Media