Spartans Start Fast And Furious, Then Fizzle

The San Jose State Spartans fooled the Spartan fans into thinking this game would be "a walk in the park", by jumping out to a 20-0 lead, but the Idaho Vandals had other ideas. In the second half, the Spartans faded and lost another close one to Idaho, 32-29.

The San Jose State Spartans welcomed the Idaho Vandals to town in an attempt to heal the wounds inflicted upon them last weekend by the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech 38-28 down in Ruston, La. San Jose State had gone into the La Tech game brimming of confidence following an impressive home victory over the Warriors of University of Hawaii. When the Spartans arrived in Ruston, however, they found that they were in for a rude awakening. The Bulldogs jumped on the Spartans, and although they fought back hard, the Spartans were simply caught in the "too little, too late dilemma. Overall, the Spartans were outplayed and out-coached. The Bulldogs were the more prepared team.

This time, the Spartans were bent on "getting it right." Idaho, a team that came into Spartan Stadium with a record of 1-7 and in last place (0-4) in the Western Athletic Conference, was not going to be taken lightly by the Spartans. After having defeated the Spartans by a field goal last year, the Spartans knew that they had no margin for error.

On Idaho's first possession following an SJS three and out, Pompey Festejo forced a fumble on the Idaho 19-yard line and SJSU eventually settled on a field goal by senior placekicker Jens Alvernik.

On the ensuing kickoff return the Spartans were the very willing recipient of another fumble forced by Alex Germany on Idaho's kick returner, Matthew Harvey. San Jose State wasted no time on this opportunity, completing a 21-yard pass to Brandon Rutley on their first down, followed by a three yard scamper by Rutley for the touchdown.

On San Jose's next possession, San Jose engineered a very steady and successful drive utilizing the soft hands of Chandler Jones, Noel Grigsby for big yardage, and the swiftness of Tyler Ervin for the short touchdown run from three yards out. That score stretched the Spartan lead to 17-0.

Pompey Festejo saw to it that the Spartans would not be on defense for long. A tipped Idaho pass by Spartan Keith Smith popped high into the air and right into Festejo's anxiously awaiting and grateful hands. The Spartans failed to score a touchdown, however and settled for a short field goal by Jens Alvernik to stretch their lead to 20-0.

On Idaho's next possession they covered 68 yards in seven plays, highlighted by a 37-yard pass play and a pass interference call in the end zone against Spartan Peyton Thompson that set Idaho on the SJS two yard line. From there, Idaho punched it in for a touchdown two plays later, making the score 20-7.

Defensive end Travis Johnson was the next Spartan to get San Jose State on the scoreboard with his second quarterback sack of the day in the Idaho end zone. This was the first safety scored by a San Jose State since December 2004. Harrison Waid set up the safety by pinning the Vandals down on their own six yard line with a fine punt.

The Spartans took the punt following the safety for a couple of first downs, but missed wide right on a 46-yard field goal attempt. The Vandals were not quite in as generous of a mood, however, as they took the ball over and ended the first half with a 55-yard field goal, the second longest field goal in Vandal history, and a career best for Vandal kicker Trey Farquhar. The first half ended there with with score 22-7.

The Spartans' opening possession of the second half ended with a missed 48-yard field goal by Alvernik. On Idaho's third possession, SJSU junior defensive end Travis Johnson recorded his third quarterback sack of the game, and two plays later amazingly racked up his fourth sack of the day on Idaho quarterback Taylor Davis. Johnson is only the third player in San Jose State football history to record four quarterback sacks in a single game. Aside from the sacks, the two teams exchanged fruitless possessions for the entire third quarter and the quarter ended with the score remaining 22-7.

On the first play Idaho after the break, SJSU defensive Mohamed Marah sacked Idaho quarterback Taylor Davis to cause the Vandals to punt. Following an exchange of possessions, Idaho took the ball and drove 79 yards in six plays in only 2:20 to close the SJSU lead to 22-17.

Tyler Ervin gave the Spartans good field position by returning the kickoff 44 yards to the SJSU 46, but they could not capitalize. Idaho was not quite so charitable in return. Idaho took a punt and marched down the field 87 yards in only 10 plays in 4:59 and scored on a 13-yard pass by Taylor Davis for his first touchdown pass of the year.

The Spartans were once again forced to punt the ball. This time Idaho's excellent running back Kama Bailey made the Spartans pay, and pay they did. Bailey took the ball on a handoff and scampered through the SJS line for a 70-yard run. The Vandals soon punched in the touchdown two plays later from the seven yard line. This made the score 32-22 Idaho.

The Spartans would not roll over and die, however. After Matt Faulkner completed a few short passes he found Ryan Otten wide open over the middle of the field and Otten caught the ball and ran untouched for 47 yards into the end zone. The Spartans tried an onside kick, but were flagged for touching the ball before it traveled the required ten yards. There would be no more scoring and the Vandals left Spartan Stadium victorious 32-29.

A downtrodden Coach MacIntyre after the game said the "kids played hard. We just kind of let it slip away… our kids are really, really down. This is definitely a tough loss for us. I know the kids will bounce back and keep fighting. This was a game that we definitely had a chance to win, and did not win it. Our kids are hurting right now, but they are resilient."



Scott Phelps is Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You are welcome to contact Scott with any questions or suggestions at scott@insidesparta.net.

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