San Jose State and Boise State fought neck-and-neck for three quarters, but in an all too similar fashion for the Spartans, the game got away from SJSU quickly as the Broncos cruised to a 40-23 win.
“I was frustrated with the second half,” San Jose State Head Coach Ron Caragher said. “Everyone knew what was at stake, a chance to come out and get a sixth win, a chance to send our seniors off with a victory in their final game in Spartan Stadium, a chance to beat a school that San José State has never beaten and gain respect on a national level.”
The Spartans trailed 16-10 going into the final 15 minutes when Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols opened the fourth quarter by breaking a tackle and then breaking free for an 88-yard touchdown run.
Three plays later, SJSU quarterback Kenny Potter threw his first interception in over a month, costing the Spartans three points on the Broncos’ ensuing drive.
Trailing by 16, the Spartan offense was able to find the end zone, but was never able to get a stop to get back into the game.
Two San Jose State touchdown drives lasted a combined 26 plays while Boise State scored two touchdowns on just six plays.
Finally, a one-handed interception by Joe Martarano in the final minute allowed Boise State to kneel out the clock.
The Spartans controlled most of the first half although they were unable to show for it on the scoreboard. On the Spartans’ first three drives, they pushed the ball to at least the Boise State 31-yard line. The drives resulted in a punt, field goal and missed field goal. And even though the Spartans forced two punts, a 15-play and 84-yard drive gave the Broncos a 6-3 lead.
San Jose State faced another missed opportunity at the BSU 35-yard line with a 4th-and-six situation. Quarterback Kenny Potter connected a pass to tight end Billy Freeman who juked past a crossing defender and walked into the end zone to take a 10-6 lead.
Boise State closed the lead to one point at halftime with a field goal as time expired.
“We went in at halftime up and really looking to carry that momentum into the third quarter,” SJSU running back Tyler Ervin said. “But they ended up making a couple really good plays and we kind of struggled to bounce back.”
Boise State moved the ball with its passing game in the first half as freshman quarterback Brett Rypien completed 18 of his first 20 pass attempts. In the second half, the Broncos recommitted themselves to the running game and sophomore running back Jeremy McNichols took advantage of SJSU’s run defense. McNichols finished with 192 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 carries.
“It was definitely self-inflicted,” senior defensive tackle Tony Popovich said of allowing chunk plays in the second half. “We were in the right spots at the right time but we missed tackles. I think they scored three touchdowns on missed tackles alone,so that was on the defense. We can’t really deny that.”
Potter, meanwhile, was nearly as accurate as Rypien. He completed 10 of his first 12 passes and finished 28-41 for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns, but his 2 interceptions were costly. Freeman was his top receiver with 109 yards and a touchdown on 7 receptions.
Senior running back Tyler Ervin broke a 40-yard run early in the game, but had a quiet afternoon otherwise. He finished with 52 yards on 11 carries.
The loss ends the Spartans’ season at a 5-7 record and was yet another example of a game that San Jose State could have won yet came up short.
Besides San Diego State, there were no teams who really beat us,” Popovich said. “We beat ourselves a lot of the time. That’s just something you have to own up to. You can’t really point fingers at anyone else, especially when you know it’s your fault. It’s coachable things that are going to have to get figured out, and they’re obvious on film so hopefully that gets handled.”
“I think we’re a couple field goals away from winning those games,” Caragher said. “There’s always five or six key plays that determine the outcome of the
game. We have to improve in those. I like the progress of the recruiting.”
San Jose State also finished 4-4 in Mountain West play which will place the Spartans third in the MW West Division, but it won’t be enough to be bowl eligible.