posted on Sep, 6 2004 @ 12:12 PM
James Sanders had no trouble breaking down the performances of Washington's quarterbacks.
"They were inexperienced," the Fresno State safety said. "They threw a couple of balls they shouldn't have thrown."
He was right on the mark.
Sanders and Richard Marshall returned interceptions for touchdowns and Brian Morris took a fumble in for another score, leading Fresno State to a
35-16 win over Washington in the opener for both teams Sunday.
"We came in really confident," Bulldogs quarterback Paul Pinegar said.
Dwayne Wright rushed for 109 yards as the Bulldogs of the Western Athletic Conference broke open a 7-7 halftime tie and added Washington to a list of
big-name conquests that included wins over Colorado, Wisconsin and Oregon State three years ago and UCLA last season.
It was Fresno State's third straight victory over a Pac-10 school. Next week, the Bulldogs travel to Kansas State.
"Being in the WAC, we need to schedule really tough games to get into a BCS-type bowl game," Sanders said. "I'm not saying we're going to go
undefeated, but we'll give it everything we have to win."
The Huskies were unable to answer a big offseason question - how to replace record-setting quarterback Cody Pickett, who's now with the NFL's San
Junior Casey Paus started, but coach Keith Gilbertson had promised that sophomore Isaiah Stanback would see plenty of action. They both demonstrated
they'll need a lot more practice.
"With quarterback, we will go back to square one," Gilbertson said. "It was a rough day."
Paus was 18-of-39 for 183 yards with three interceptions. Stanback completed 1 of 5 for 10 yards with one interception.
"I've got to pick up my head," Paus said. "I thought coming into this game we had a very good grip on our offense. We felt we could move the ball, but
against a great team you can't give up points."
Fresno State got a solid performance from its quarterback. Pinegar completed 13 of 21 passes for 125 yards with one TD and one interception.
The Bulldogs were nursing a 14-10 lead when Morris struck on the first play of the fourth quarter. Stanback dropped a handoff in the backfield, and
Morris picked up the ball and ran 18 yards untouched to make it 21-10.
Paus returned for the next series, promptly throwing an interception that Sanders collected at Washington's 29. Two plays later, Wright bolted through
the left side and ran for a 28-yard TD to make it 28-10.
"I look at myself as an experienced quarterback," Paus said. "I've been in this offense long enough to know it. It's hard to swallow, but at the same
time I know we did some good things."
Marshall struck late in the contest, stepping in front of a pass from Paus and running 75 yards for Fresno State's final TD.
"We were running a nickel play where I'm supposed to cut off the curl," Marshall recalled. "I jumped the curl, and the quarterback still threw it.
Man, I was surprised that he threw it."
The Huskies led 7-0 early in the second period when Stanback ran for an 8-yard touchdown. Fullback Zach Tuiasosopo set it up with a 50-yard run
through a huge hole opened by tackle Khalif Barnes.
Fresno State tied it shortly before halftime. Stanback was pressured by nose tackle Donyell Booker and threw an ill-advised pass that Sanders
intercepted and returned 19 yards to make it 7-7.
"It was a birthday present," Sanders said.
Twice in the first eight minutes, the Huskies went deep into Fresno territory but got nothing. Evan Knudson was wide left on a 37-yard field goal
attempt and thumped a 38-yard shot that didn't even reach the end zone.
Knudson was replaced after that by Michael Braunstein, who made a 25-yard field goal in the third to pull Washington to 14-10. Pinegar had opened the
half with an 80-yard drive that he capped with a 12-yard TD pass to Joe Fernandez.
On that drive, Pinegar had a 43-yard completion to Paul Williams - the younger brother of former Washington safety Curtis Williams, who sustained a
spinal cord injury during the 2000 season and died in May 2002.