When Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers turned the corner, hurdled a defender and charged into the corner of the end zone on that snowy night in Boise, Idaho, history was made for the Bulldogs.
The No. 25-ranked ‘Dogs clinched the Mountain West title for the first time since 2013, when the likes of quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Davante Adams dominated the conference.
So it’s no wonder the win means so much for a program and fanbase that had starved for another championship – and a return to glory.
“It was emotional,” said Brandon Pollard, Fresno State band director of recruiting and a cymbals player. “I have been following Fresno State football since 2007 now, and it was magic. I cried, for sure. I screamed. We played the fight song right away.”
It was the first time that the Bulldogs had won in Boise at Albertson Stadium since 1986, before the Broncos changed to their signature blue turf. That has been seen by many as jinx for the ‘Dogs.
“We knew the history of the teams, the history of that blue turf,” Pollard said.
Fresno State Athletic Director Terry Tumey, in the midst of his first season at Fresno State, described the win as a seminal moment in his professional career as a college athletics administrator.
“It was what I would really call the pinnacle of my career as an athletic director, to be in a championship setting at this level with so much on the line. And really, most importantly, representing our institution as a whole,” Tumey said. “The game is really an example of where the institution is going.”
The victory resonated with ‘Dogs fans, no matter where they were. Fresno State Associated Students Inc. Chief of Staff Piper Walker was watching the game on television.
“Everybody in the house I was in was super excited cheering,” Walker said. “Everybody in ASI was texting each other about how excited we were about the win and definitely looking forward to getting students to the bowl game.”
Walker said that Fresno State’s win is an opportunity to revitalize pride in the campus and in the football program.
“I think that there is a new sense of energy on campus and everybody is throwing their support behind the athletics department and our football team,” she said. “[We are] definitely rallying behind them and showing as much of support as we can, win or lose.”
Fresno State business management major Brianna Alberto said she thought the win could be a galvanizing force for the Fresno State student body.
“Honestly, I feel very powered up. It makes our school feel closer together,” Alberto said. “I feel a lot more enthusiasm toward our football team. Everyone is just very excited and I think a lot of people are trying to go to the Bowl game out there, so it’s pretty cool to see that in our community.”
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