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 game-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, tonight in the Las Vegas Bowl.
"I would like to give a lot of credit to the guys up front," said Anderson, voted the game's most valuable player. "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 five yards, the latter giving Utah (9-3) a 14-10 third-quarter lead. Fresno State answered with Derrick Ward's two-yard touchdown run as the fourth quarter opened, giving the Bulldogs a two-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."