Sports

Oregon flattens Fresno

EUGENE, Ore. -- The final game of Fresno State's five-game series against Oregon certainly had a different ending.

Just not the type Fresno State likely ever imagined.

The Bulldogs still didn't win. And this time, they couldn't make it close, either.

Prone to turnovers, inundated with flags and incapable of stopping or keeping up with Oregon's high-powered spread offense, Fresno State was hammered 52-21 Saturday in the most lopsided outcome of the Bulldogs' five tries under coach Pat Hill against the Ducks.

Before an announced sold-out crowd of 58,525 at Autzen Stadium, the Bulldogs (1-2) were left feeling like a model who had slipped on the runway.

Will they get off the ground and recover from such an embarrassment?

"How do I have to say it: We got dominated in all three phases," Hill said. "We got beat pretty good today. That doesn't happen at Fresno State very often. But today we got beat by a better football team.

"Sometimes you just run into a buzz saw like this. We hit it pretty hard tonight."

Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon did just as Fresno State feared -- nearly anything he wanted and whenever he wanted as he placed the No. 19 Ducks so far ahead early on (42-6 in the second quarter) that the Bulldogs' clock-controlling ground game became a hindrance.

Dixon finished with three touchdowns in directing an offense that churned out 461 total yards and 23 first downs.

The worse news for Fresno State, though, was that starting defensive end Jason Robert suffered a broken leg during the third quarter and will miss the rest of the season.

It also didn't help that the Bulldogs continue to have trouble with turnovers, losing one fumble that resulted in a touchdown and throwing an interception that led to another seven points -- all in the first half.

"Our offense is going to score points. That's just how it is," said Ducks running back Jonathan Stewart, who finished with 165 yards rushing and two touchdowns. "But when you allow our defense to score, too, you're putting yourself in a big, big hole."

The Bulldogs also were flagged for 12 penalties for 105 yards -- with a few flags thrown on crucial downs.

Meanwhile, poor play along the offensive line prevented the Bulldogs from sustaining any rhythm. The line, with two new starters because of injuries to left guard Cole Popovich and right guard Adam McDowell, could not provide the push for the running game or keep pass rushers from hitting quarterback Tom Brandstate.

"That's all we talked about this week: Take away their running game," Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond said.

Now, the biggest question for Fresno State is whether Saturday's loss stunts the growth of a young team still trying to find itself. And if so, for how long?

The Bulldogs have a bye this week, then host Louisiana Tech on Sept. 29.

"Like I told the guys in the locker room: We're 1-2 right now, a place we were last year," Brandstater, the former Turlock High standout said. "And we've got one of two ways we can go: We can do like we did last year and quit or we can fight and get ourselves a (Western Athletic Conference) title."

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