Rivers Runs Way To Rich Abaijan MVP Award in Bowl Win
By Jesse Lima for the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers was awarded the Rich Abaijan Most Valuable Player Award after the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl in a 31-20 Bulldogs’ victory.
Rivers finished the day with 212 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground after recording only 54 those in the first half. He also tallied 33 receiving yards on four catches and returned a punt for 41 yards.
Rivers’ rushing total was the second-most yards in Las Vegas Bowl history behind Utah running back Mike Anderson’s 254-yard performance in 1999.
Late in the third quarter, Rivers jetted up the middle on a 68-yard touchdown run, which is the third-longest rushing touchdown in the event’s history.
“It created a big momentum swing for us and I couldn’t have done anything without my O-Line creating that seam for me, and I just had to run through an arm tackle and use my speed to get to the end zone,” Rivers said.
Rivers suffered a foot injury during spring practice this season and missed the first three games of the 2018 season.
Persevering and staying healthy is what helped Rivers come back sooner than originally anticipated, which resulted in helping his team to a school-record 12 wins on the year.
“We didn’t know really how he was going to recover,” Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford said. “He’s a tough, tough kid and obviously created a spark for us tonight. There were tough yards inside and he stayed patient, and I think our offensive line did a great job to stay on their guys and create seams for him because that is not an easy defense to run against.”
Tedford said that other than battling a foot injury, Rivers was also playing through a shoulder injury during the last few weeks of the season.
“To have Ronnie come back and be a big part of what we do, obviously we think a lot of him. He’s not only a great player, but also a great young man,” Tedford said.