Brian Murphy: Fresno State's Carr family finally vanquishes old foe

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comSeptember 21, 2013 

— Fresno State couldn’t erase 12 years of frustration, including 11 losses, in one night against Boise State.

But the Bulldogs, who have envisioned for themselves the success that the rival Broncos have had over the past decade, did all they could Friday night to set themselves up for a run of their own.

Senior quarterback Derek Carr did what older brother David could not — but what seniors such as Hawaii’s Colt Brennan and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick could — and bested the Broncos at home in his final regular-season shot.

Brennan and Hawaii went to the Sugar Bowl in 2007. Kaepernick and Nevada put together the best season in school history in 2010. Now Carr and the Bulldogs have a chance to do in 2013 what Fresno State has been aching for since the Bowl Championship Series was created.

In order to have that chance, Fresno State had to get through Boise State, its nemesis in the old Western Athletic Conference and now the Mountain West.

It would not be easy.

Slaying your tormentor rarely is. Especially one as determined as Boise State.

And the Bulldogs may not yet be done with the Broncos standing in their way of that elusive BCS bowl opportunity.

But that didn’t matter Friday night.

Fresno State fans filled Bulldog Stadium eager to see it. In the first sellout since 2008, the Red Wave showed up hoping to exorcise the demons that have haunted the program since 2001, when Boise State upset No. 8 Fresno State and David Carr in Fresno.

On this night, the tables were turned.

Boise State entered the game 120th in the nation in third-down defense — and quickly showed that terrible ranking was no fluke. Carr and Fresno State converted on three third-downs on the first drive of the game.

The defensive talent drain — from graduation and recent dismissals — has left coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski with a young unit seemingly incapable of covering wide receivers consistently. Carr, a projected NFL Draft pick, found his receivers open all evening.

“We’ve just got to get better,’’ defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said.

The Fresno faithful went through a range of emotions — from delight to devastation and then pure delirium.

Delight in an early lead that ballooned to 34-19 late in the third quarter.

Devastation as the Broncos reeled off 21 consecutive points to snatch the lead and stun the crowd.

Then pure delirium as Carr once again sliced through the Boise State defense. He took the Bulldogs 87 yards in 4 minutes and 45 seconds in the final quarter. Carr completed 8-of-11 passes for 63 yards on the game-winning drive.

“It was in our hands if we could have just got a stop and got the ball back for our offense,” Kwiatkowski said.

And still it was not over.

Still the Broncos had to be stopped one more time, finished off.

Carr had to sit as Fresno State’s defense attempted one more stand against the Broncos and quarterback Joe Southwick. Playing with an ailing right shoulder, the Broncos' senior gutted through a remarkable performance of his own.

His fourth-down pass to Kirby Moore was on target. And dropped.

Instead of Southwick with the biggest win of his career, it was Carr, who hung a Boise State flag in his home to remind him of the goal he was chasing, who finally, finally got the best of the Broncos.

The flag had been removed earlier this year.

"So many emotions went through my head. I remember sitting there watching the sack happen when I was 10 years old that is one thing that went through my head. Where is my brother? I know he is around and I want to go and hug him. I told him that one was for him. Because one of the main reasons I came here was because of that moment. I remember sitting up in the stands, crying because my brother lost his game. It was just a game, but it meant a lot of me. So I went straight to him and told him that was for him," Carr said.

The monkey was removed late Friday night.

It may not be gone for good, though.

Carr may have to do something Brennan and Kaepernick never had to do in their senior seasons — beat Boise State again.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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