Many wondered how Fresno State would fare in its first season without Jake Haener, who led the Bulldogs to a Mountain West Championship a season ago but is now in the NFL.
Turns out, the Bulldogs would be just fine. They earned a 39-35 upset victory at Purdue on Saturday.
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Fresno State was No. 15 in the HERO Sports G5 top 25 rankings going into the day.
Purdue was only favored by 3.5 points earlier in the week, but that’s still an upset win for Fresno State, which is aiming to maintain its place as one of the premier programs in the Mountain West this year.
The game didn’t seem like it would go the Bulldogs’ way early after an 84-yard touchdown pass from Hudson Card to Deion Burks in the first four minutes. But Fresno State’s new starting QB, Mikey Keene, answered by delivering a 29-yard touchdown pass to Erik Brooks just four minutes later.
Fresno State didn’t lead until the fourth quarter but never trailed by more than 11 points. That was after Tyrone Tracy Jr. returned the second-half opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to give Purdue a 28-17 advantage.
But Keene helped Fresno State respond by throwing an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jaelen Gill midway through the third quarter. Then Malik Sherrod scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs a 32-28 lead.
Purdue took that lead back after an 11-yard touchdown run by Devin Mockobee with 4:36 to go. But Keene found Brooks again for a 22-yard touchdown with less than a minute left in the contest to take the lead for good.
Mikey Keene Stat Line
Mikey Keene threw for 366 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception on 31-of-44 passing in his first game with Fresno State. Erik Brooks led the Bulldogs with 170 yards and two touchdowns on nine catches.
Though he is new to the team, Keene was regarded as one of the best Mountain West quarterbacks heading into the season.
Keene transferred to Fresno State from UCF, where he was 8-3 as a starter. The former three-star recruit out of high school who was ranked the 13th-best quarterback transfer in the country threw for 1,730 yards, 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions in 11 games as a true freshman. Keene completed 60 of 83 passes for 647 yards, six touchdowns, and just one pick in four games the following year.