The Fresno State football team’s bid for a BCS bowl ended Friday with a 62-52 loss to the San Jose State Spartans.
The Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 Mountain West Conference) suffered their first loss of the season, while the No. 14 Northern Illinois Huskies ended their season as the only undefeated non-automatic qualifying team after a win over Western Michigan on Tuesday.
The Spartans (6-6, 5-3 MWC) were trying to recover from a triple-overtime loss to Navy last week and keep their postseason hopes alive.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr threw 38 of 50 for 519 yards and six scores, while San Jose State’s David Fales threw six touchdowns of his own in an offensive shootout.
At 114 points, the game is the second-highest scoring game in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) this season. The teams also combined for 1,382 yards of total offense, the most in a regulation FBS game this season.
“We faced a better team and they won,” said Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter. “They out-coached us and out-played us. That’s why I have tremendous respect for teams that go undefeated. The longer you go, the more teams play up to you. [The Spartans] obviously played very, very well.”
San Jose State scored first after a 31-yard pass from Fales to wide receiver Kyle Nunn. On Fresno State’s ensuing possession, Carr connected a 46-yard pass to Davante Adams, followed by a 27-yard strike to Josh Harper for a score.
Harper was injured on the play and removed from the game. Adams had 13 catches for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Justin Johnson entered the game and caught 4 passes for 36 yards and a score in the contest.
“[The San Jose State defense] couldn’t do certain things when Josh was on the field,” Adams said. “But Justin came in and did a great job. He grew up a lot in this game, and I’m proud of him.”
A blocked point-after attempt haunted the Bulldogs in each of their remaining possessions. As San Jose State and Fresno State exchanged touchdowns in the first half, the latter remained, at best, one point shy to the former.
With Fresno State set to receive the second-half kickoff, San Jose State kicker Harrison Waid tapped the ball 13 yards for an onside kick. The Spartans recovered the ball and turned their drive into a touchdown.
“The play came from [tight ends coach] Terry Malley and his arena football experience,” said San Jose State coach Ron Caragher. “They were moving the ball, so we wanted to roll the dice and surprise them.”
“We talked about it at halftime, that [the Spartans] were going to try to steal a possession,” DeRuyter said. “We watched the ball get kicked, but we didn’t go attack it. [San Jose State] did a better job of executing it.”
The Bulldogs were only able to move the ball 48 yards in their next drive, settling for a McGuire 42-yard field goal to cut San Jose State’s lead to 49-44. The Spartans answered back with an Austin Lopez 45-yard field goal to increase the score to 52-44
During the Bulldogs’ first drive of the fourth quarter, Carr threw a pass that was intercepted by Spartan linebacker Keith Smith. It was Carr’s first pick in 305 pass attempts.
“We just hurt ourselves,” Carr said. “We had a couple of penalties and I threw a pick. It wasn’t [the San Jose State defense], it was us. We’ll get that corrected. The good part is there’s no mystery to it.”
The offensive numbers put up by the Spartans reflected Fresno State’s poor showing on defense. The Spartans scored in 11 of 14 offensive drives, with two fumbles and a punt ending the only non-scoring drives. San Jose State scored in each drive of the second half, going 4 for 4.
“They made plays and we didn’t,” said Fresno State safety Derron Smith. “That’s what happens against a good offense. If we can’t stop them and get them off the field, they’re going to keep putting up points.”
The Bulldogs’ undefeated season may be over, but there is one game left. Still the No. 1 seed in the MWC, Fresno State will host the Mountain West Championship on Dec. 7 (7 p.m., CBS).
“We can’t dwell on this loss too much,” Smith said. “We definitely have to learn from it, but we have to move forward, because we have a big game coming up.”
“It’s a tough loss to take, but we still have all of our goals ahead of us,” DeRuyter said. “We have to learn from this and come back Monday ready to work toward winning a championship.”