SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Rodney Davis' phone rang in the locker
room just before Fresno State took the field for the Silicon Valley
It was his brother and teammate, calling to wish the Bulldogs
good luck. Starting receiver Marque Davis was at home, one of seven
players who couldn't participate because of academic problems.
So Rodney Davis ran for them. He carried 37 times for 153 yards
and two touchdowns as Fresno State won its first bowl game in 10
years, defeating Georgia Tech 30-21 on Tuesday.
"This win was for the guys who couldn't make it,'' Davis said.
The Bulldogs (9-5) had not won a postseason game since beating
Southern California in the 1992 Freedom Bowl, a string of four
And they were even more proud they did it with a depleted
roster. Fresno State suited only 45 players, and was missing five
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. They may have had incompletes or grades that had
not yet been finalized, for example.
"For the nation to think we played with ineligible players is a
misconception,'' coach Pat Hill said. "We were playing with
non-certified players. ... I'm so proud of this football team. We
had some adversity this season.''
Three seniors stayed home, some because their grades weren't
"That drives me nuts,'' Hill said. "But we persevered.''
Asen Asparuhov kicked a 33-yard field goal with 3:43 left, one
of his three in the game, and Davis clinched the victory with a
28-yard TD run just more than a minute later for the Bulldogs.
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.
"I'm disappointed with the execution,'' coach Chan Gailey said.
"Obviously, you have to be able to stop the run and you have to be
able to execute on offense, and we didn't do either well.''
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
In a lackluster first half, the teams struggled to take
advantage of their scoring opportunities, with Fresno State leading
13-7 at halftime.
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, and the Yellow Jackets
thought their chances were good with Fresno State missing so many
"We really thought that we could go out and our game plan would
work even better,'' Bilbo said.
Georgia Tech is 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.