Return To Glory Thwarted...

SJSU dominated the first half, driving deep into Fresno State territory on four occasions, but the Spartans could only come away with 13 points and led 13-3 late in the first half. Bowl hopes dashed.

Behind Asen Asparuhov's left leg and a stingy defense in the second half, Fresno State grinded out a 19-16 victory over rival San Jose State at Spartan Stadium. The win secured a berth in the Silicon Valley Football Classic for the Bulldogs, who will be playing in a bowl game for a school-record fourth consecutive year.

"Getting a bowl invitation, getting a chance to play in a bowl game for a fourth straight year, is a great reward for these young men," head coach Pat Hill said. "But they have battled pretty hard. It's a very young team and I think the foundation will be very strong for the future."

The Spartans offense, which had scored 31 points or better in the last three contests, was thwarted by a Fresno State attack that featured a season-high nine sacks. Star senior defensive end Nick Burley had four of the sacks, including a game-high 11 tackles.

"It was a huge effort from our defense tonight," Hill said. "We are playing with a lot of banged up guys. The pass rush was fierce tonight and the coverage was good. That's a good San Jose State offense and I thought we did a good job against them."

The Bulldogs' opponent in the Silicon Valley Football Classic will be determined, but logical choices appear to be either Oregon -- which defeated Fresno State earlier this season -- or Washington. The Bulldogs have played in the two previous Silicon games, as well.

SJSU dominated the first half, driving deep into Fresno State territory on four occasions, but the Spartans could only come away with 13 points and led 13-3 late in the first half. But with less than a minute to play in the second quarter, disaster struck for San Jose State as punter Michael Carr dropped the snap, allowing his punt to be blocked on the Spartans' 7-yard-line. On the ensuing play, Paul Pinegar hit Marque Davis in the end zone, cutting SJSU's lead to 13-10. It was Fresno State's only TD of the game.

The Bulldogs relied heavily on the accurate leg of Asparuhov. The senior placekicker tied a career-high by nailing four field goals, including a 27-yarder with 6:11 to play that gave Fresno State a 19-16 lead, its first advantage of the game.

The win was also the Bulldogs' ninth in a row over San Jose State and was reminiscent of 2000, when the winner of the Fresno State-SJSU game was to be awarded a bowl berth. In that 2000 contest, the Bulldogs walked away with a 37-6 victory. San Jose State hasn't beaten Fresno State since 1990. The Bulldogs also tied the all-time series at 32-32-3, the first time the two rivals have been tied since 1948, when it was just 7-7-3.

"If people don't think this is a rivalry, this is my sixth year and that was a tough game," Hill said. "That was the way they always used to be back in the 1980's when Jim Sweeney was the coach and I was an assistant. The series is finally tied. I know that means a lot to some of the people who have been following our team for a while."

Pinegar emerged as one of the statistical stars of the game. The redshirt freshman continued to play with poise uncommon of his experience, throwing for 175 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-33 passing. He now has 2,420 yards on the year, most ever for a Bulldog freshman QB.

Davis had eight receptions for 99 yards and the one TD grab. His brother Rodney just missed out on a 100-yard game by pounding the SJSU defense for 98 yards.

Defensively, Cameron Worrell and Sam Williams both contributed 10 tackles. Williams also had three sacks.

Before they play in the Dec. 31 bowl game, the Bulldogs have one more regular season contest, that coming Dec. 5 at Louisiana Tech.


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