MacIntyre grimaced on the sideline as Idaho skipped out of Spartan Stadium with a 32-29 victory that dealt a huge blow to San Jose State's fading bowl hopes. The Spartans led 17-0 in the first quarter, 20-0 in the second and 22-10 in the third before Idaho stormed back for 22 unanswered points in the fourth.
The Spartans watched with disbelief as the Vandals celebrated their second victory of the year, and their first since Sept. 10. MacIntyre tried to find the right words when addressing his players after the game, but they were understandably dispirited.
"I told them a lot of times in life you kind of get punched, and you have something that slips away," MacIntyre said. "You have to regroup in your own mind and your own heart. Our kids are resilient, but they're hurting right now."
The loss dropped the Spartans to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in the Western Athletic Conference. To become bowl eligible, they will have to win each of their three remaining games. They will visit Utah State on Nov. 12, play host to Navy on Nov. 19 and conclude the regular season at Fresno State on Nov. 26.
All three games are winnable, but the Spartans will have to play the way they did while winning three out of four from Sept. 24 - Oct. 14. The running game has grinded to a slow crawl after showing promise early in the season, and the Spartans have given up 70 points in their past two games despite forcing five turnovers.
Officials from the Kraft Fight Hunger and Poinsettia bowls were on hand for the Idaho game. The Spartans, picked to finish seventh in the Western Athletic Conference, know they're opening eyes, but they're still three wins away with no margin for error.
"We've got to find a way," senior quarterback Matt Faulkner told the San Jose Mercury News. "The season's not over. We can win three games in a row."
--San Jose State needed just over four minutes to produce a turnover for the eighth consecutive game against Idaho. The Vandals first drive ended when LB Pompey Festejo forced a fumble which was recovered by DE Travis Johnson at the Idaho 19-yard line. Festejo later recovered a fumble after teammate Alex Germany knocked the ball out of the hands of Idaho kick returner Ryan Bass.
--San Jose State had two fumble recoveries and one interception against Idaho, giving the Spartans 13 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions this season. They lead the Western Athletic Conference in fumble recoveries and takeaways.
--The Spartans have demonstrated an ability to make big plays throughout the season. They did it again against Idaho. QB Matt Faulkner threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to TE Ryan Otten with 1:08 to play. It was San Jose State's eighth play of 40 yards or more this season.
KEEP AN EYE ON: The Spartans have been very good defensively in the fourth quarter this season, but they suffered costly lapses down the stretch against Idaho. The Vandals scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, becoming the first team since Stanford in the season opener to score more than two touchdowns in the final period against San Jose State. The Spartans had allowed only 16 points fourth-quarter points in their last six games.
LOOKING GOOD: San Jose State leads the Western Athletic Conference with 24 takeaways after recording three more in the loss to Idaho. The Spartans forced three turnovers on Idaho's first four possessions. DE Travis Johnson and LB Pompey Festejo each recovered fumbles. Festejo also had an interception.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The running game hasn't been nearly as explosive in recent weeks. Senior RB Brandon Rutley rushed for 340 yards in wins over New Mexico State and Colorado State before suffering a sprained ankle which forced him to miss the BYU game. Rutley returned the following week and rushed for 70 yards in a win over Hawaii, but he has gained just 61 yards on 30 carries in the past two games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Crushed. I think everybody watching thought that game was going to be a blowout. It's obviously disappointing. They made the plays and we didn't make enough." --Senior QB Matt Faulkner, describing the mood in the locker room following a 32-29 loss to Idaho.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--DE Travis Johnson had a huge game against Idaho. He had 10 tackles, tied a single-game school record with four sacks and recovered a fumble for the Spartans. Johnson even put points on the scoreboard with one of his sacks when he dropped Vandals QB Taylor Davis in the end zone for a safety in the second quarter. Johnson led San Jose State with 7 1/2 sacks last season.
--LB Pompey Festejo had seven tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one interception against Idaho. Festejo's interception, fumble recovery and forced fumble all occurred in the first quarter.
--The Spartans are getting contributions from two sets of brothers. Senior OG Jacob Orth is the older brother of junior S James Orth, and junior DE David Tuitupou is the older brother of junior TE Peter Tuitupou.
--WR Noel Grigsby had 11 receptions against Idaho, the third time in the past four games he has caught 10 or more passes. With 70 catches this season, he is tied with James Jones (2006) for sixth on San Jose State's all-time single season list.
--RB Brandon Rutley was held to 38 yards on 16 carries against Idaho and gained just 23 yards on 14 carries in an Oct. 29 loss to Louisiana Tech. He averaged 2.03 yards per carry in those games.
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