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Let the fun begin

Utah starts postseason with 17-16 Vegas Bowl win

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Posted: Saturday December 18, 1999 11:44 PM

  Utah's Mike Anderson avoids a tackle by Fresno State's Vernon Fox on his way to a first-quarter touchdown. AP

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Mike Anderson broke loose for a 76-yard run the first time he touched the ball. As it turned out, that was just the beginning.

Anderson finished with a school- and bowl-record 254 yards and two touchdowns and Cletus Truhe kicked a 33-yard field goal with five minutes left as Utah beat Fresno State 17-16 in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday night.

"I would like to give a lot of credit to the guys up front," said Anderson, voted the game's MVP. "They kept pushing and pushing. They had a lot of energy and they were feeding that energy to me. I just wanted to give it back to them.

"This is unbelievable to me to finish my career here with a big win in a bowl game," added Anderson, a senior who began his college career after a stint in the Marine Corps. "I'll never forget this team. I'll never forget the coaches. I'll never forget this school."

Fresno State (8-5) went ahead 16-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter, but Colby Knight blocked Jeff Hanna's extra-point attempt, setting the stage for Truhe's field goal to win the game.

The game-winning kick was vindication for Truhe, whose first two field-goal tries were blocked by Fresno's Terence Brown. The first block was returned 75 yards for a touchdown by Payton Williams.

"I didn't have the prettiest game in America but I guess I made the one that counted," Truhe said. "I was wondering if I was doing anything wrong the first two times, but my coach told me to just worry about my part. The rest of the guys stood up and made it easy for me. It's a storybook finish."

Hanna also had a field goal blocked by the Utes' Richard Seals.

Anderson scored on runs of 34 and 5 yards, the latter giving Utah (9-3) a 14-10 third-quarter lead. Fresno State answered with Derrick Ward's 2-yard TD run as the fourth quarter opened, giving the Bulldogs a 2-point lead that was not quite enough.

"I have no regrets or second thoughts; we just are not physical enough yet," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "Utah won the physical battle in the trenches. I give Utah a lot of credit. They did a fine job running the ball and they made the plays they needed to make at the critical times."

Brown said Anderson posed a real problem for the defense.

"He's a very physical runner and it takes more than one person to tackle him," Brown said. "If you don't hit him low, he'll run right through you."

Darnell Arceneaux, in his first game since a serious concussion six weeks ago, came on when Utah quarterback T.D. Croshaw was knocked out of the game by a shoulder injury. Arceneaux was 8-of-15 for 94 yards over the last three quarters.

Utah dominated the ball, gaining a bowl-record 334 yards rushing.

Despite outgaining Fresno State 331 yards to 103, the Utes managed only a 7-all tie at halftime, the score coming on Anderson's 34-yard run with 3:51 left in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs went ahead 10-7 on Hanna's 27-yard field goal with 9:24 remaining in the third quarter.

The Utes regained the lead when Anderson finished a 68-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run, breaking three tackles en route to his second touchdown of the night.

With Anderson breaking off key gains, the Utes drove 70 yards to the Bulldogs 14 before Truhe came on to kick the game-winning field goal with 5:03 remaining.

The Utes improved to 4-4 in bowls with its first postseason victory since a 16-13 defeat of Arizona in the 1994 Freedom Bowl. Fresno State was in a bowl for the first time since 1993.

Related information
Inside the Mountain West/WAC: No Vegas vacation for Fresno fans's 1999 Bowl Section
Fresno State-Utah Game Summary
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