Copyright © 2006-07 SpartanThunder.com
Growing up as a huge Spartan fan just a few miles from Stanford Stadium, I saw Spartan teams regularly come up victorious over Stanford with teams led by Jack Elway, Claude Gilbert, Terry Shea and Dave Baldwin.
Prior to today's game it had been six years since the Spartans last victory over Stanford. However, in front of nearly 30,000 fans the San Jose State Spartans came charging back from two 20-point deficits in the second quarter to beat Stanford 35-34 at Spartan Stadium – the home of San Jose State football.
Speaking of the home of San Jose State football, Spartan fans that have followed the team for the past 25 years or so might say that not only did the team return home to Spartan Stadium today for their first home game of the season but they also returned to their familiar "home" of winning against Stanford. This year's house may have had a different name on the mailbox (Dick Tomey) than those from years past but the recipe for success was the same: out-coaching, out-muscling, out-executing and simply out-playing their Bay Area rival for a big victory in front of joyous Spartan fans.
Spartans Start Out Strong
After winning the coin toss San Jose State decided to kick-off to begin the game and their defense certainly made a statement when Stanford went four-and-out on their first series of the game.
Following a 33 yard punt by Stanford the Spartans rolled into the end-zone after an 11-play, 57 yard drive that was highlighted by an 18 yard rush by Junior Tailback Yonus Davis.
Throughout the early part of the game the momentum was clearly on the side of the Spartans and all of the fans at Spartan Stadium – both Cardinal and Spartan alike – could sense the aggressiveness and confidence of the Spartan squad along with the passiveness and uncertainty of their opponents in red.
While getting three first downs and driving from their own 20 yard line into Spartan territory the Spartan defense continued to play well after forcing a Stanford punt with the Cardinal facing a 4th and 10 at the San Jose State 36-yard line.
The Tide Turns Red
On a short but relatively high punt by Stanford's Jay Ottovegio San Jose State fumbled the ball around the 15 yard line. Stanford recovered the fumble on the 17 yard line and on the very next play Trent Edwards hit Richard Sherman on a touchdown pass.
Within a span of a few seconds the momentum on the field and in the stands clearly shifted from the Spartans to the Cardinal.
On the extra point attempt Stanford's Aaron Zagory missed the uprights (which ultimately turned out to be the difference in the game) to make the score seven to six in favor of the Spartans.
The shift in momentum continued as on the very next play Stanford's Derrick Belch hit a high but short kickoff that fell in front of the two Spartan deep returners but behind the blocking line directly in front of them. While bouncing away from the return men none of the nearby Spartans appeared to have moved aggressively towards the ball and as a result Stanford recovered the ball on the 19 yard line of San Jose State.
After a couple of relatively short runs Stanford continued to take full advantage of the mistakes of San Jose State when Trent Edwards threw his second touchdown pass of the game – an 11 yard strike to Evan Moore. The score was now 13-7 in favor of the Cardinal.
Later in the second quarter Stanford went on two unanswered scoring drives –each for a touchdown – to make the score 27-7. At this point the Stanford fans and players had all of the momentum on their side of the field. Just when matters were at their worst San Jose State received a call from "home" and the comeback began.
Spartans Stop the Bleeding
On the next series the San Jose State drove from their own 28 yard line and into pay dirt in seven plays – including a tremendous 34 yard pass reception and run by James Jones and a concluding six yard touchdown run by Yonus Davis – to cut the lead at 27 to 14.
Stanford Regains Their 20 Point Advantage
Stanford kept San Jose State at bay by going on a two-minute, five play drive that started on their own 40 yard line and ended on a 14 yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Moore - regaining their 20 point lead with the score 34-14 with only four minutes remaining in the half.
San Jose State Ends the Half on a Strong Note
Junior San Jose State Quarterback Adam Tafralis, in his second straight strong performance of the season, hit Senior Wide Receiver James Jones three times in the next series and threw a strike to Fullback J.T. Collier for an 11 yard touchdown strike to make the score 34-21 - Stanford ahead - going into halftime.
The Second Half is ALL Spartans
The Spartans began the second half of the game the way they started the game – completely dominating the line of scrimmage and they began running through the Stanford defense like a hot knife through butter.
Yonus Davis ran the ball (actually, more like blasted) three times for 58 yards – including a 35 yard run that reminded many Spartan fans of carries by former Spartan Deonce Whitaker and Sophomore Tailback Patrick Perry ran the ball the final two plays of the drive – ending in an eight yard touchdown to bring the Spartans within a touchdown of the Cardinal with the score now 34-28.
San Jose Moves Ahead and Never Looks Back
In the next offensive series by the Cardinal Freshman Linebacker Ryno Gonzalez nailed Stanford's Anthony Kimble after a pass reception and the Spartans recovered the ball on the San Jose State 27-yard line.
On the next play Yonus Davis sprinted 31 yards to the Stanford 42-yard line and then on the very next play James Jones took the infamous Marcus Allen reverse run to a whole new level when he ran downfield – towards the sidelines – then completely turned course toward the other sideline – running past and through Stanford would-be tacklers – for an incredible, sure-fire highlight-film 42-yard touchdown. After Strubeck's successful extra point the Spartans regained the lead at 35-34 – a lead they would not relinquish.
For the last few minutes of the third quarter and the bulk of the fourth quarter both defenses held each other team in check.
With about 8:30 left in the game San Jose State started a drive on their own 20 yard line following a Stanford punt that just barely went into the end zone for a touchback.
The Spartans then slowly rolled down the field and burned over six minutes of the clock with Patrick Perry and Junior College transfer Jacob French each grinding down the field on multiple carries until San Jose State was forced to punt with the game clock at 2:20 and the Cardinal with two timeouts remaining.
Stanford Makes One Last Comeback Bid – But Falls Short
Following a punt that went out-of-bounds at the Stanford 20 Trent Edwards bought time in the pocket and hit back-to-back pass attempts and managed to move the ball to midfield with a little more than a minute left in the game.
On the next play Edwards continued his late-game heroics by connecting with Even Moore at the San Jose State 40 yard line. However, while going down on the tackle by San Jose State's Christopher Owens Moore fumbled the ball and ultimately the last chance for Stanford to come back in the game as San Jose State recovered the ball and subsequently ran out the clock to win the game 35-34 – keeping Stanford scoreless for the entire second half.
Other Quick Notes
• A large number of former Stanford alumni, players and coaches celebrated the Spartans victory as members of the San Jose State football team and Athletic Department. Assistant Coaches Steve Morton, Tom Williams and Ken Margerum are all former coaches with Stanford – with Williams and Margerum also former football stars for the Cardinal.
In addition Senior Associate Athletics Director Kellie Elliott, Associate Athletics Director Vince Otoupal and Assistant Athletics Director Ken McDonald are all graduates of Stanford University. Elliott and Otoupal were also recent members of the Stanford Athletic Department.
While a former player on the Stanford football squads in the late 80's and early 90's you had to look hard to find a person on the field after the game that was more excited about today's Spartan victory than Otoupal. McDonald was also a player with Stanford under the famous head coach John Ralston, who also was on the San Jose State side of the fence this afternoon.
• Following today's victory San Jose State has a bye next Saturday but will return to Spartan Stadium on September 23 to host the Mustangs of Cal Poly at 3:00 p.m.. It is sure to be an exciting and must-see game.
• Finally, while the Spartan fans have returned "home" with their win today I (and numerous other Spartan fans) would like to thank Assistant Athletics Director Bill Penrod for all of his tremendous, hard work and excellent achievements he has obtained at San Jose State for the past seven years as a member of the San Jose State Athletics Department.
Today was Bill's final day as a member of the Athletic Department as he will be pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities in the Bay Area.
Bill will certainly be missed but we wish him all of the best and it is fitting that he leaves today after a dominant San Jose State win over Stanford – a win that was perhaps reminiscent of the dominant win that the Spartans had over Stanford in 1999 when Bill first joined the Athletics Department.