Jackson Moore - Scout

Turnovers, poor defense doom San Jose State in 30-7 homecoming loss to San Diego State

The San Jose State Spartans hosted the San Diego State Aztecs with the top spot in the Mountain West, West Division up for grabs, but the Aztecs dominated in Spartan Stadium.

The San Jose State Spartans entered homecoming week surrounded by much speculation about taking first place in the West Division of the Mountain West Conference. However, reality put San Diego State on top of the MWC West, with the Aztecs beating SJSU 30-7. 

San Jose State’s first two drives ended in three-and-outs. Tyler Ervin, who made crucial plays in last week’s comeback win over UNLV, had a loss of 4 yards on his first play from scrimmage. This would be a sure sign of worse things to come. Michael Carrizosa’s first punt was partially deflected and only went for 17 yards. Starting at SJSU’s 37, San Diego State drove for an early 7-0 lead, with a 13-yard run by all-MWC running back Donnel Pumphrey.

On their third drive, San Jose State drove all the way to the San Diego State 24, aided by a 35-yard pass from Kenny Potter to freshman running back Malik Roberson with a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty tacked on. However, Kenny Potter was sacked on first down for a loss of 7 yards and then bottled up for no gain. Austin Lopez’s 48-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. Off that missed field goal, San Diego State drove for another touchdown by Pumphrey, who this time caught a pass for 38 yards untouched. 

San Jose State responded to the 14-0 deficit with a 15-play, 75-yard drive of their own. A pass interference on J.J. Whittaker gave SJSU an unearned first down conversion after Potter threw an incomplete pass to Hansell Wilson. Then, after Tyler Ervin converted a 3rd & 2 with a two-yard run from the SDSU 10, Whittaker picked up two fouls that gave SJSU 6 unearned yards. It would take three plays for SJSU to score; Kenny Potter scored a touchdown on a sneak play on 3rd & goal from the SDSU 1.  

SDSU would walk off the field with a 17-7 lead. SDSU quarterback Maxwell Smith, who made his first six passes, threw his first incomplete pass on third down inside the red zone, and SDSU settled for a field goal. Smith, who entered this have with a completion rate of 46%, would complete 10 of 14 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. 

SDSU’s defensive penalties in the first half prompted head coach Rocky Long to call his defense “a little too aggressive at times.”

Ultimately, SJSU would enter the other side of halftime with some disastrous mistakes that let SDSU run away. On 3rd & 9 from the SJSU 26, Potter threw an interception that bounced off Tyler Winston’s hands. SDSU got a field goal off that turnover to go up 20-7. On the ensuing possession, Potter threw another interception, directly into Alex Barrett’s coverage of Hansell Wilson. This pick was just 3 yards from the line of scrimmage. After a 10-yard return by Barrett, SDSU needed just two runs by Chase Price on a 16-yarder to go up 27-7. 

Down 30-7, SJSU blew its chance at a fourth quarter miracle comeback after a wide-open Justin Holmes dropped a fourth-down pass, a few plays after Kenny Potter scrambled to convert a 4th & 4 from the SDSU 36. The ugliness continued on SJSU’s next drive, with Potter being strip-sacked on third down at midfield. The fumble bounced off several SDSU players before offensive lineman Keoni Taylor recovered the ball at the SJSU 18. The ensuing down? 4th & 39.

In his postgame press conference, head coach Ron Caragher defended Potter, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 113 yards and two interceptions.

“I still believe in Kenny, and Kenny’s our quarterback, and he’s a good player,” commented Caragher. “Whoever you put back there tonight, San Diego State did a good job putting pressure on that position. 

Caragher also acknowledged that the team was not adequately prepared in practice.

“I run the scout team during practice, and I need to do a better job simulating,” said Caragher. “I certainly didn’t do a good job simulating San Diego State’s defense.”

Ervin, who had a season-low 22 yards net rushing, suggested that this team has the character to rebound from this loss. 

“A strong team knows how to come back from a game like that, and that’s what we are. We have a lot of good character and we’ll be ready to come out and play a good game next week.”

SJSU returns to Spartan Stadium next Saturday, Oct. 24 to host the New Mexico Lobos (4-3, 2-1 MWC), who won on Saturday, 28-27 over Hawaii.

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