RENO -- Call it a Turlock reunion.
When Nevada starting quarterback Nick Graziano left the game injured in the second quarter, Pitman High graduate Colin Kaepernick came in and lit up the scoreboard.
Despite his 384 yards and five touchdowns (four passing), he couldn't get his Wolf Pack the victory over Turlock grad Tom Brandstater and Fresno State on Saturday. The Bulldogs won 49-41.
Brandstater wasn't nearly as effective as Kaepernick, but he didn't have to be on this day.
Fresno State freshman running back Ryan Mathews overcame a bout with the flu to run for 171 yards and three touchdowns, and the Bulldogs' special teams came up with two long scores in a Western Athletic Conference game that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
"I'm still a freshman, I'm just trying to have fun," said Mathews, who missed practice Thursday with the flu. He scored on runs of 3, 54 and 67 yards, the longest coming on the second half's first play from scrimmage to open up a 35-13 lead for Fresno State (3-2, 2-0 in the WAC).
"I was throwing up after that first long run. After that, I kind of got my second wind," Mathews said.
"My whole mind set when I get open like that is to get to the end zone. I'm not the fastest dude out there. I just don't want to get caught from behind," he said.
Fresno State totaled 307 yards rushing, including Lonyae Miller's 72-yard TD run to seal the victory with 12:35 left in the game. Earlier, Clifton Smith scored on a 67-yard punt return and A.J. Jefferson returned a blocked field goal 40 yards for another touchdown.
"We really felt we could run the football on these guys and we did," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said, adding that the special teams play was "just awesome."
"A great effort by everybody. Those types of things change games," he said. "We didn't have the ball a lot. We had a lot of offense, but not a lot of plays. And that's all right."
"We're 2-0 in the WAC and headed to Idaho. I'm real proud of this football team. You could say this was a real good day. A great win."
It marked the first time in his 23-year coaching career that Nevada coach Chris Ault lost to Fresno State in Reno, where the Wolf Pack's home record is now 17-4 since Ault returned three years ago.
"It was poor defensive football and special teams play was abominable," Ault said. "There is no excuse for us to play that poorly. Offensively we had good scoring turnarounds. In the fourth quarter our offense did well. I thought Kaepernick did well. Fresno is a good football team they just flat beat us."
Kaepernick will need to continue playing well for Nevada because Graziano is out the rest of the season with an injured tendon in his foot.
Nevada pulled to within 35-20 on Kaepernick's 10-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Fragger with 9 minutes left in the third quarter.
But Smith ran 15 yards for his second touchdown of the game on the next series to put the Bulldogs ahead 42-20 with 2:36 remaining in the quarter.
The Wolf Pack threatened to score again when Mike McCoy took a 33-yard pass from Kaepernick to the 1 yard line, but two plays later nose tackle Jason Shirley forced Fragger to fumble and linebacker Ben Jacobs recovered it in the end zone.
Brandstater completed 10-of-16 passes for 168 yards. Miller finished with 95 yards rushing on 12 carries for the Bulldogs.
Marko Mitchell caught nine passes for a career-high 135 yards and McCoy grabbed five passes for 116 yards for Nevada.
Trailing 21-13 late in the second quarter, Kaepernick scrambled 14 yards and dove into the goal-line pylon, but the touchdown was called back.
On the next play, Mitchell dropped his second pass of the game and when Brett Jaekle tried a 46-yard field goal, Bulldog tight end Bear Pascoe blocked it. Smith came out of the pile with the ball and raced to the end zone for a 28-13 lead 1:45 before the half.