McMaryion, No. 20 Fresno State defense roll past UNLV

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              Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Marcus McMaryion passes against the UNLV Rebels during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Fresno State found itself in a “look-ahead game” scenario on Saturday night against struggling UNLV, and the Bulldogs handled the situation without a problem.

Marcus McMaryion threw for two touchdowns and 274 yards, while the Fresno State defense had a near-perfect game as the No. 20 Bulldogs cruised past UNLV 48-3.

“(Our) guys played hard,” said Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford, whose team lost their last two to UNLV. “We had to be prepared in all phases — and it was important because we didn’t play well (last year).”

In six days, Fresno State travels to Boise State for a rematch of last year’s Mountain West championship game, which it lost 17-14.

Fresno State (8-1, 5-0 Mountain West) won its seventh straight. The Bulldogs kept their one-game lead in the West Division over San Diego State, which won at New Mexico on Saturday night.

McMaryion completed 26 of 35 passes and rushed for 39 yards as his defense held UNLV to 175 total yards of offense through three quarters.

KeeSean Johnson had eight receptions for 97 yards to move his streak to 45 consecutive games with a catch. Johnson led the nation in active career receptions at 234 before Saturday.

Fresno State’s defense allowed the Rebels over midfield twice in the first three quarters,.

“We prepared hard (on defense),” said linebacker George Helmuth, who had eight tackles. “We took preparation seriously. We have high standards for ourselves. Teams have been attacking us on our weak spots.”

Charles Williams, a Fresno native, was the lone bright spot for UNLV (2-7, 0-5) as he rushed for 121 yards on 16 carries. Max Gilliam was 14 of 30 for 98 yards for the Rebels, who will not be bowl eligible due to the loss.

The Bulldogs opened the scoring on their first possession on a six-play, 45-yard touchdown pass from McMaryion to Jamire Jordan down the middle 4:21 in, after a blocked punt. On the first play of the second quarter, Fresno State made it 14-0 on a Ronnie Rivers 2-yard rush around the right end. Asa Fuller’s 35-yard field with 36 seconds left in the half capped it at 17-0.

On their first drive of the second half, the Bulldogs put the game away. McMaryion found Kyle Riddering wide open down the middle for a 9-yard touchdown pass just 4:09 into the half, making it 24-0.

“It’s nice typically to get some separation,” Tedford said. “It’s always great to see other guys get in.”

On the next play after Jaron Bryant’s 40-yard interception, Fresno State upped the lead to 31-0 with a 5-yard Josh Hokit scamper around the left side with 8:22 remaining in the third.

UNLV’s only scoring opportunity in the first half came on that 46-yard missed field goal by Evan Patels in the first quarter.

“(Fresno State) was a little bit more physical than we were,” UNLV coach Tony Sanchez said. “Them going down and scoring right away (in the first quarter) and then us throwing a pick right after, it takes the wind out of your sails.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Fresno State: The Bulldogs earned their first win at UNLV since 1996 and have won 17 of their last 20. Last year, Fresno State lost to the Rebels at home, 26-16. Coach Jeff Tedford is now 7-0 in Mountain West road games. This was the 20th straight game with the Bulldogs holding opponents below 30 points a game. Fresno State is now 14-7 all-time against UNLV.

UNLV: The Rebels had won three of their last four against the Bulldogs. After winning the first two of three, UNLV has now lost six in a row. The Rebels have two road games ahead at San Diego State and Hawaii, before finishing at home against instate-rival Nevada.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Bulldogs are the only California team in this week’s Associated Press’ Top 25 poll. They look to move up a few spots with this win. Fresno State last reached the poll last November after defeating Boise State. This was the second time the Bulldogs reached the poll since Dec. 2013.

TURNOVER STREAK ENDS

The Bulldogs’ finally turned the ball over after almost four games. McMaryion was intercepted by Javin White with 7:33 left until halftime. Fresno State last turned the ball over against Nevada Oct. 6 on a second-quarter fumble by Jordan Jamire. This was the Bulldogs’ longest stretch without a turnover since 2002.

SHORT WEEK

The Bulldogs end their road portion of their schedule on a short week at Boise on Friday night. The Broncos (7-2, 4-1) beat BYU at home 21-16 on Saturday night

UP NEXT

Fresno State: At Boise State on Friday.

UNLV: At San Diego State on Saturday.