Fresno State beats Houston 33-27 in the Hawaii Bowl
HONOLULU — Marcus McMaryion threw for a career-best 342 yards and Jimmy Camacho made four field goals to help Fresno State beat Houston 33-27 on Sunday in the Hawaii Bowl.
McMaryion completed 33 of 48 passes to tie the Hawaii bowl record for completions set by Hawaii’s Colt Brennan against Arizona State in 2006 and also matched by Fresno State’s Derek Carr against SMU in 2012.
The Bulldogs (10-4) had their first 10-win season in five years and completed the biggest turnaround in FBS this season. They went 1-11 last year, and became just the second team in FBS history to go from double-digit losses one season to double-digit wins in the next.
The Cougars (7-5) were seeking their fifth consecutive season of eight or more wins.
Camacho was kept busy in his final game for Fresno State. He attempted six field goals, with makes of 27, 38, 26 and 33 yards, but missed a 56-yarder in the second quarter — which would have been a career long — and had a 24-yard try blocked and returned for a Houston touchdown in the third quarter. Camacho broke the Hawaii Bowl record for field goals made.
Fresno State finished with 480 yards of total offense to Houston’s 341.
Defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the first underclassman to win the Outland Trophy, had his first career carry — a 1-yard touchdown run — to cap Houston’s first scoring drive in the first quarter.
Three plays into the second quarter, Fresno State tied it on McMaryion’s 1-yard sneak on fourth down. The drive was extended by McMaryion’s 13-yard pass completion to Da’Mari Scott on third-and-1 and a pass-interference penalty against the Cougars that moved the chains on third-and-5 four plays later.
Camacho’s 27-yard field goal with 9:45 left in the second quarter gave the Bulldogs their first lead at 10-7, but Houston answered with a 31-yard field goal by Caden Novikoff a few minutes later.
Camacho missed the 56-yarderon Fresno State’s next possession, but converted from 38 yards as time expired in the second half to send his team into halftime with a 13-10 lead.
Houston tied it at 13 midway through the third quarter on Novikoff’s 42-yard field goal, but the Bulldogs pulled back ahead with McMaryion’s 6-yard touchdown run on third down to highlight a nine-play, 75-yard drive with 4:21 remaining in the third.
Camacho lined up a 24-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter, but it was blocked by Houston’s Jeremy Winchester and returned 94 yards for a touchdown by Alexander Myres.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good on Camacho’s 26-yard field goal with 13:57 left to play and stretched the lead to 26-20 with his 33-yarder with six minutes remaining.
Jaron Bryant’s 44-yard interception return off a deflection with 3:49 wrapped up the win for Fresno State. D’Eriq King’s pass was batted up in the air by defensive end Robert Stanley and fell into the hands of Bryant, who maneuvered his way along the left sideline for the score.
King’s 2-yard scoring strike to Linell Bonner in the final minute closed out the scoring.
KeeSean Johnson caught eight passes for 95 yards for Fresno State and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
Steven Dunbar, one of two senior receivers for the Cougars, had seven receptions for 168 yards.
McMaryion and Dunbar were selected as the game’s most valuable players for each team.
It was the first meeting between the teams.
Houston: The Cougars brought the second-best completion percentage in the country at 70.1 percent. King completed 23 of his 43 pass attempts (53.5 percent) for 269 yards with an interception
Fresno State: The Bulldogs entered allowing 116.6 rushing yards per game, the fifth-best mark in FBS. They held the Cougars to 72 rush yards — well below their per-game average of 175.5 — on 30 carries, an average of just 2.4 yards per attempt.
Houston, which must replace five starters on each side of the ball, will open its 2018 campaign on the road, but not far from home, when it visits Rice on Sept. 1.
Fresno State will lose a total of five starters from this year’s squad. It will start off coach Jeff Tedford’s sophomore season at his alma mater at home against Idaho on Sept. 1.