Rich Abrahamson/The Fort Collins Coloradoan
FORT COLLINS – After another big game by Derek Carr, the Fresno State quarterback had some words of thanks for his defense and running game.
Carr threw four touchdown passes, including two to Davante Adams, and Fresno State shut down Colorado State until the final moments for a 28-7 victory Saturday night.
“They’re my best friend – my defense and my running game,” Carr said. “They help out so much when they give us a short field. It makes it a lot easier.”
Safety Phillip Thomas helped set up two scores with a forced fumble and his NCAA-leading sixth interception of the season, and Robbie Rouse added 124 yards rushing on 26 carries for Fresno State (4-2, 2-0 Mountain West). A fourth-down stop on defense and a deflected punt preceded Fresno State’s two other touchdowns.
Carr finished 25 of 39 for 217 yards.
“We come out every week with the mindset that we’re going to win the game for us,” Thomas said of his defense after Fresno State chalked up its first road win of the season.
“We love the pressure being on our shoulders, and you see in the way we play: We’re fast, physical and fanatical,” Thomas said.
“We get after the ball. We force turnovers. The offense is going to bail us out one of these games. But they’re doing exactly what they need to do, and we’re doing what we need to do, getting stops and getting off the field.”
Colorado State (1-5, 0-2) lost its fifth consecutive since a season-opening win over in-state rival Colorado. The Rams had a first-quarter score nullified by a penalty and saw two chances at interceptions slip through their fingers.
M.J. McPeek was 15 of 29 for 192 yards in his first career start for Colorado State, tossing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Charles Lovett with 42 seconds remaining as the Rams averted their first shutout at home in two years.
McPeek, who was sacked four times, was playing in place of Garrett Grayson. He is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a shoulder injury suffered in a 42-21 loss at Air Force on Sept. 29.
“M.J. did some good things. He’s going to want some things back,” Colorado State coach Jim McElwain said. “We’re not doing what we need to do on offense to get things done. It’s obvious; let’s call it the way it is. That’s my responsibility as the head ball coach.”
Buoyed by the Bulldogs’ second fourth-down stop in the third quarter, Carr drove Fresno State to his third touchdown pass of the night, a 15-yarder to Isaiah Burse that put the Bulldogs up 21-0 with 14:14 remaining.
Thomas intercepted McPeek on the ensuing series, leading to Adams’ second scoring catch of the night. Carr kept the drive alive with a fourth-down scramble to the Colorado State 8-yard line, and one play later teamed up with Adams on a 5-yard touchdown.
Fresno State led 14-0 at halftime, turning a deflected punt and a fumble recovery into touchdowns.
The Rams had a first-quarter touchdown catch by Kivon Cartwright negated by a crack-back block penalty called on Crockett Gillmore.
Thomas had a hand in the opening score when he broke through on a blitz to sack McPeek, forcing a fumble at Fresno State’s 29-yard line, where the Bulldogs took over.
Rouse converted a third-and-8 play at the Rams’ 27-yard line with a 10-yard gain on a draw. One play later, Carr threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Adams, who out jumped safety Trent Matthews for the score midway through the first quarter.
Kyrie Wilson broke through to deflect Pete Kontodiakos’ punt, which traveled just seven yards to the Rams’ 33-yard line. Carr’s 8-yard scramble to the 20 gave the Bulldogs a first down and helped them overcome an offensive pass interference penalty earlier in the drive. He hit Josh Harper on the next play for a touchdown.
“We’ve got to stack games now,” Carr said. “We can’t play good one time and then fall off another. We’ve played two good ones in a row, and we’ve got to keep building.”