Posted: Monday December 20, 1999 05:05 PM
LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- Mike Anderson will always remember this honeymoon in Vegas.
Anderson rushed for a school- and Las Vegas Bowl-record 254 yards and Cletus Truhe atoned for prior failures by booting a 33-yard field goal with 5:07 to play as Utah earned its first postseason victory in five years, 17-16 over Fresno State.
The 6-0, 232-pound Anderson, a senior from Winnsboro, South Carolina, broke the Utah record of 248 yards set by Eddie Johnson against Texas-El Paso in 1984. He also scored Utah's two touchdowns with runs of 34 and five yards.
The Utes overcame 15 penalties and three key injuries, including a sprained right shoulder by newlywed quarterback T.D. Croshaw, to win their third straight game and complete the best nine-year stretch in school history.
Utah (9-3), which went 67-39 from 1991-99, captured its first postseason championship since beating Arizona in the 1994 Freedom Bowl. It improved to 4-3 all-time in bowl games.
Fresno State (8-5) was not penalized as much but committed the game's biggest infraction with just over two minutes to play when a personal foul on safety Curtis Edwards gave the Utes a first down and all but sealed the outcome.
Trailing 16-14 and with Darnell Arceneaux behind center for the first time since suffering a serious concussion on November 6, the Utes drove 11 yards in 70 plays for the winning field goal.
Truhe had attempts of 34 and 33 yards blocked by safety Terence Brown, including one returned 75 yards for a touchdown by Fresno State cornerback Payton Williams. But on the game-winner, he lined up from the left hash marks and calmly split the uprights.
On the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs kept their hopes alive when Billy Volek hit freshman running back Marcellus Armstrong for a 20-yard gain on 3rd-and-4. Armstrong was in the game for Paris Gaines, who suffered a sprained right ankle.
Fresno State crossed midfield but an illegal substitution penalty stalled the drive. On 4th-and-7, Volek's pass for Rodney Wright was knocked away by cornerback Andre Dyson, the younger brother of former Utes receiving star and current Tennessee Titan Kevin Dyson.
Volek completed 14-of-28 passes for 147 yards. Gaines carried eight times for 31 yards for Fresno State, which was outgained, 548-279.
Croshaw was married on Thursday but his special weekend was spoiled early and he completed just 3-of-9 passes for 120 yards with one interception. Arceneaux was 8-of-15 for 94 yards.
During the game, Utah also lost starting left guard Doug Kaufusi and tight end Michael Richardson to knee injuries.
Williams' touchdown came 5 1/2 minutes into the game and opened the scoring. Anderson, who carried 34 times, tied it shortly thereafter with his 34-yard scoring scamper.
After a scoreless second quarter, Jeff Hanna gave Fresno State the lead by booting a 27-yard field goal 5:36 into the second half. Anderson's five-yard TD run 2:03 later later put the Utes on top, 14-10.
Fresno State took its third lead of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter when Derrick Ward dove over the pile for a two-yard touchdown. But Hanna's point after was blocked, allowing the Utes to win the game with a field goal.
A Las Vegas Bowl record crowd of 28,227 watched the Bulldogs fall to 8-7 all-time in bowl games.
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