Las Vegas Bowl solidifies Fresno State as rising NCAA power

Las Vegas Bowl
Man of the hour: Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers (20) rushed for a game-high 212 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to a 31-20 win against Arizona State in the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

LAS VEGAS, NV-Fresno State finished their spectacular season with a tough 31-20 win against Arizona State in the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl. Fresno State, concluding its season with a 12-2 record and a No. 21 ranking among NCAA Division I football programs, was paced by the hard running of running back Ronnie Rivers.

Las Vegas Bowl
KeeSean Johnson (3) cuts upfield against against Arizona State during the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Rivers rushed the ball 24 times for 212 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs past the Sun Devils on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018.

Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk (2) breaks into the open field against Fresno State in the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 2018. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

With Arizona State up 20-17 late in the third quarter, Rivers delivered the play of the game when he rushed 68 yards for a touchdown untouched to give Fresno State a lead they would not relinquished. Fresno State would add another score in the fourth quarter to officially put the game away.

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State defeat Arizona State
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion (6) making moves in the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Arizona State was paced by runing back Eno Benjamin, who carried the ball 23 times for 118 yards and one touchdown for the Sun Devils. Arizona State finished its season with a 7-6 mark in the first season under head coach Herm Edwards. Benjamin finished the season as the nation’s No. 3 rusher, gaining 1,642 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. 

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State defeats Arizona State 31-20
Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins (5) looks for room to run against Fresno State in the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

The game brought an end to the collegiate career of Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins. The dual-threat signal-caller who had much success jumping over defenders as well as throwing the football, had an outstanding 2018 campaign, passing for 3,025 yards and touchdowns. He also added another 452 yards and eight TDS on the ground to flex off his versatility. 

Las Vegas Bowl
Brandon Aiyuk (2) of Arizona State looks to get into the endzone against Fresno State in the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

In three seasons, Wilkins passed for 8,624 yards and 52 touchdowns. He would rush for another 980 yards and 20 touchdowns during that span. 

Las Vegas Biowl
Fresno State running back Dejonte O’Neal (11) gives an Arizona State defender the stiff-arm during the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline
Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1315 Articles
Dennis is a news and sports photojournalist. Dennis has covered and written on issues such as civil rights, education, politics, and social justice. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, Los Angeles Wave, Los Angeles Sentinel, and other media outlets. Dennis is currently the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. Dennis is an alum and graduate of Howard University.

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