While the Spartans – as a comprehensive unit - came back after being down 14-0 in the first half to defeat a hard-nosed Utah State team at Spartan Stadium 21-14 today – there was one particular play by one individual Spartan that everybody I spoke with during and after the game quickly acknowledged was THE play of the game.
That of course was Senior Defensive Tackle Freddy McCutcheon's completely dominating pounding of Utah State running back Marcus Cross two yards behind the line of scrimmage on a third and less-than-one play at the Spartans' 39 yard line in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 14-14.
Leading up to THE play of the game there was a tough fought, three-plus quarters of football that featured Utah State's offensive line essentially play one step ahead of the Spartans' defensive unit for the entire first half.
During the first half Utah St. routinely gained three to eight yards every single run and slowly but surely drove down the field for one touchdown and completely dominated the time-of-possession battle.
The Aggies also capitalized on a fumbled punt by Senior Wide Receiver and Punt Returner James Jones deep in Spartan territory for their first touchdown of the game with less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
After falling behind 14-0 half-way into the second quarter with the Aggies' defense frustrating the Spartans by playing tight on the line against the run and the short passing game the Spartans finally got on the board with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Adam Tafralis to Yonus Davis on what was a carbon-copy of the old Ally-Oop jump pass from Tittle to Owens of 49'ers lore.
While blanketed by the Utah St. defender Davis turned back, stopped and caught the slightly under-thrown jump pass from Tafralis and sprinted to the end-zone to cut the lead to 14-7.
The Momentum Clearly Swings in the Second Half
While the Utah St. offense was confident every time they came out of the huddle in the first half that certainly was not the case in the second half of the game when the Spartans' defensive unit made the proper adjustments and finally began to dominate the line of scrimmage.
After quickly stopping the Utah State offense on a number of early series in the second half San Jose State tied the score late in the third quarter when Tafralis hit James Jones on a spectacular 50-yard touchdown catch and run.
THE Play of the Game
After working hard to come back from a serious knee injury suffered during pre-season summer practices Spartan Defensive Tackle Freddy McCutcheon was only expected to play around 12-15 plays in today's game.
"Freddy Mac" ended up playing almost twice those many plays today and the biggest play of the day for Freddy was about half way through in the fourth quarter when the Aggies' were driving down the field into Spartan territory when, on a third and less-than-one, McCutcheon perfectly timed the snap and bullrushed his way into the backfield and tackled the Utah State running back for a two yard loss.
Following the big play Big #92 came running back to the sidelines with his arms pumping up in the air and the Spartan fans simply went crazy in the stands!
With a fourth down and three facing the Aggies head coach Guy decided to punt the ball away.
As it turned out that punt, which was a direct result of McCutcheon being back on the field, led to the Spartans go-ahead score as the Spartans' offense took the momentum created by McCutcheon and drove 80 yards down the field – capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Patrick Perry with four minutes remaining in the game.
Other Quick Notes:
•With two previous byes in the season the Spartans played their first conference game today – mid-way into October. With the win they improve to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in WAC play.
•The Spartans are only one of three teams in the WAC undefeated in conference play and only Boise State currently has a better overall record than San Jose State of all of the WAC teams.
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