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December 31, 2007

Fresno State claims Humanitarian Bowl title

MORE: Box score | Rivals.com Bowl Central

BOISE, Idaho - Add Georgia Tech - again - to Fresno State's list of conquests from BCS conferences.

Add Jon Tenuta to the list of winless interim coaches this postseason.

Clifton Smith rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns, Tom Brandstater threw for a score and ran for another and the Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech 40-28 in the Humanitarian Bowl on Monday.

Fresno State's offense was surprisingly unstoppable against a Yellow Jackets defense that was among the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference and led the country in sacks during the regular season with 47.

But Fresno State's offensive line kept Brandstater off his his feet, and even when Tech got a little heat on the junior, he showed the ability to escape the pocket and keep plays alive.

After punting on its opening possession, the Bulldogs (9-4) scored on six straight drives, taking a 34-14 lead midway through the third quarter, when Brandstater used an escort from tight end Bear Pascoe for a 24-yard touchdown run.

Behind a lineup of mostly young, skill-position backups trying to make an impression on incoming coach Paul Johnson, who watched the game from the area around the Bronco Stadium press box, the Yellow Jackets (7-6) got within 34-28 early in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Calvin Booker threw a towering jump ball that D.J. Donley wrestled away from Fresno State defensive backs Moses Harris and Damion Owens. The touchdown was setup by Donley's blocked punt.

Brandstater tried to answer, leading Bulldogs inside the Tech 10. Wide receiver Marlon Moore, who scored on a 6-yard run in the first half, was hit by safety Joe Gaston at the 1, fumbled and Darryl Richard recovered.

But the Bulldogs defense held, and Smith capped his career-best day with a 32-yard sprint with 1:50 remaining.

Brandstater finished with 285 yards passing and the Bulldogs had 572 yards, the most allowed this season by the Yellow Jackets.

It's Fresno State's second bowl win over Georgia Tech, beating the Yellow Jackets 30-21 in the 2002 Silicon Valley Football Classic, and it made the Bulldogs 3-0 against the ACC in bowls. Fresno State has won four of its last five bowl appearances, all four wins coming against teams from the six conferences with automatic bids to the Bowl Championship Series.

Tenuta took the interim tag when Chan Gailey was fired after six seasons and became the fourth caretaker coach to lose this postseason, joining DeWayne Walker (UCLA), Gary Darnell (Texas A&M) and Chris Thurmond (Houston).

Brandstater finished with 285 yards passing and the Bulldogs had 572 yards, the most allowed this season by the Yellow Jackets.

Fresno took control in the second quarter, scoring 17 points, including 10 in the final 2 minutes.

Brandstater, who was finished 23 of 30 passing, threw a 3-yard TD pass to Drew Lubinsky with 1:54 left in the half, the first catch of the junior's college career.

Georgia Tech drove to the Fresno 47, but on fourth-down with 23 seconds left, quarterback Taylor Bennett was sacked. Brandstater then completed three straight passes and Clint Stitser kicked a 39-yard field goal, his second of the half, to give the Bulldogs a 20-7 lead.

Smith started the second half with a 43-yard touchdown run to complete the Bulldogs scoring spurt.

Backup running back Jonathan Dwyer helped spark Tech's comeback. Dwyer took over for Tashard Choice, who finished with 69 yards on 12 carries, but didn't play the last 1 1/2 quarters because of a knee injury.

Dwyer finished with 62 yards and touchdown runs of 36 and 2 yards.

MORE: Rivals.com Bowl Central



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