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(Friday, December 3rd)
Final Score: Fresno State 25, Illinois 23
Fresno, CA (Sports Network) - Ryan Colburn threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Fresno State Bulldogs to a 25-23 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini in a non-league affair at Bulldog Stadium.
Only four players caught passes for Fresno State (8-4), and Jamel Hamler led the group with 92 yards on seven receptions. A.J. Ellis, who was on the receiving end of one of Colburn's touchdown passes, finished with 44 receiving yards and 44 rushing yards.
Mikel Leshoure led the way for Illinois (6-6), as the tailback rushed for 142 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase added 131 rushing yards and one score, but finished with just 61 passing yards and one score on 5-of-16 efficiency.
The Bulldogs dominated the first 15 minutes of action, and scored on their first drive when Colburn connected with Ellis on a screen pass that went the distance for a 27-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked however, leaving Fresno State with a 6-0 lead.
Fresno State's first touchdown came on an eight-play drive, but the team's second score took just one play, as Colburn hit a streaking Jalen Saunders with an 78-yard touchdown pass.
Kevin Goessling added a 45-yard field goal in the final seconds of the opening frame to give the Bulldogs a 16-0 lead.
Illinois put together a solid drive on its next possession, but it stalled inside Fresno State's red zone, and the Fighting Illini had to settled for an 18-yard field goal by Derek Dimke.
Fresno State responded with a field goal of its own, as Goessling blasted a 52-yard kick to put the Bulldogs back up by 16 points.
Less than two minutes later Leshoure broke free and scampered down field for a 35-yard touchdown run, and that would be the last points in the first half, as the Illini went into the break down 19-10.
However, that deficit would be reduced to two points in the third quarter, as the Illini opened the second half with a 17-play, 92 yard drive that was capped off with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Scheelhaase to A.J. Jenkins.
The Bulldogs struck back quickly once again however, as they needed only four plays to extend their advantage. Colburn connected with Rashad Evans on the fourth play of the drive for a 21-yard touchdown, but the two-point conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the Illini down by eight points.
The Illini found the end zone on their first play of the final frame, as Scheelhaase broke free for a 21-yard touchdown scamper. However, a missed two- point conversion left Fresno State with some breathing room.
And that two point lead would be enough for Fresno State for the remainder of the contest, as the Bulldogs shut down Illinois the rest of the way.
12/04 02:08:33 ET