Dec 31, 2002
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Rodney Davis ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns as Fresno State won its first bowl game in 10 years, defeating Georgia Tech 30-21 in the Silicon Valley Classic on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs (9-5) had not won a postseason game since beating Southern California in the 1992 Freedom Bowl, a string of four straight losses.
And they did it with a depleted roster, too. Seven players, including five starters, did not participate because of academic problems, and Fresno State suited only 48.
A new Western Athletic Conference rule requires athletes to pass at least six credits to play in a bowl game, and seven didn’t meet the requirement.
Georgia Tech’s Gary Johnson (96) tries to contain Fresno State running back Rodney Davis in the first quarter.
Asen Asparuhov kicked a 33-yard field goal with 3:43 left, one of his three in the game, and Davis secured the win with a 28-yard TD run just more than a minute later for the Bulldogs. Davis finished with 37 carries.
And the Fresno State defense did an impressive job after halftime of weathering a strong second-half comeback attempt by Georgia Tech freshman backup quarterback Damarius Bilbo.
Bilbo passed for a touchdown and ran for another after replacing the ineffective A.J. Suggs, but Bilbo also threw four interceptions as the Yellow Jackets (7-6) committed seven turnovers.
Georgia Tech was the only team in the ACC to throw more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (13) this season.
The game turned into a muddy mess after hard rain fell Monday night. It took only a few plays for Georgia Tech’s gleaming white uniforms to turn a dull brown, and there were plenty of slips and missed plays.
In a lackluster first half, the teams struggled to take advantage of their scoring opportunities, with Fresno State leading 13-7 at halftime.
Fresno State wide receiver Adam Jennings (18) can’t reach a pass in the first quarter against Georgia Tech’s Kyle Sweeney (54).
Dee Meza’s 48-yard interception return for a touchdown with 14 seconds left in the second quarter highlighted the half.
Fresno State was playing in the Silicon Valley Classic for the third straight year, and Bulldogs fans took up the majority of the seats at Spartan Stadium.
Georgia Tech was trying to protect the nation’s top bowl record in its sixth straight postseason appearance. The Yellow Jackets are now 20-11 after coming into the game tied with Penn State for a .667 bowl winning percentage.
Yellow Jackets placekicker Luke Manget made three extra points to give him 160 straight PATs, one shy of the NCAA record for consecutive extra points of 161, set by John Becksvoort of Tennessee from 1991-94.