Spartans Hang Tough, But Fall To No. 17 Utah

The San Jose State Spartans lost a closer than expected game to the No. 17 ranked University of Utah Utes by a final score of 24-14, but may have found a number one quarterback in the process.

The No. 17 ranked University of Utah Utes, led by the dynamic duo of quarterback Terrance Cain and running back Matt Asiata, defeated the San Jose State Spartans 24-14, despite a slew of mistakes, which kept the Spartans in the game for it's entirety. Cain completed 18 of 31 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 76 yards on 10 carries. Asiata led the Utes with 94 yards on 10 carries and rushed for a score.

San Jose State weathered an early offensive onslaught by Utah in the first half, thanks largely in part to mistakes made by the Utes, which negated several nice drives by Utah. The Utes, who were an abysmal 0-for-12 on third down in their win over Utah State last week, didn't waste time getting off the slide against the Spartans. In their opening drive they were successful on all three of their third down conversion attempts, including a third and goal, one yard run by Matt Asiata to cap a 77 yard scoring drive which gave the Utes an early 7-0 lead. Utah quarterback Terrance Cain, utilizing both his legs and throwing arm, accounted for 67 of Utah's 77 yards.

The Spartans failed to answer the Utes' opening scoring drive, going three-and-out, and a 55 yard punt by Philip Zavala. San Jose State quarterback Kyle Reed started the game for the Spartans, but only attempted one pass in the two short possessions that he was on the field. Choosing to try and establish the run, San Jose State failed to make a first down on either possession with Reed at the helm.

During Utah's second and third possessions, the Spartans were the beneficiaries of two Utah fumbles, both occurring in San Jose State territory, and coming while the Utes were driving to extend their seven point lead. Carl Ihenacho recovered a fumble by wide receiver John Peel at the San Jose State 41 yard line following a 13 yard reception, and Alex Germany recovered a fumble by Matt Asiata, also at the SJSU 41 yard line.

Replacing Kyle Reed late in the first quarter, junior quarterback Jordan LaSecla ignited the San Jose State crowd with a 33 yard pass to Kevin Jurovich on the first play, to the Utah 26 yard line. LaSecla then completed his next two passes, including a 10 yard completion to Jalal Beauchman on a third and nine, which set-up a two yard touchdown run by Brandon Rutley to tie the score at seven apiece. The touchdown run did not come without a price, as Rutley suffered an ankle sprain on the play, and did not return the rest of the game. For the game, LaSecla completed 22 of 34 passes for 269 yards and one touchdown pass. His only interception of the game came on a "hail mary" pass that ended the game. The interception was the only turnover by the Spartans.

The Spartans again benefited from a Utah mistake near the end of the first half when running back Matt Asiata, who took the snap from center in the Wildcat formation, missed a wide open and uncovered Terrance Cain in the right corner of the Spartans end zone.on a fourth and goal from the San Jose State one yard line near the end of the first half.

San Jose State only managed to move the ball four yards to their own five, but took enough time off of the game clock to leave only five seconds for Utah to work with. A short 35 yard punt by Philip Zavala from his own end zone, and a five yard formation penalty set the Utes up for a 53 yard field goal attempt by Ben Vroman, which missed badly. With one second remaining in the half, LaSecala completed a 46 yard pass play to Marquis Avery to the Utah 18 yard line as time expired. LaSecla completed 8 of 10 passes in the first half, for 121 yards.

To start the second half, San Jose State went three and out, and a short 30 yard punt by Zavala set Utah up at midfield. Utah, after a brilliant 25 yard scramble by QB Terrance Cain to the San Jose State 22 yard line failed to capitalize again. Two straight incomplete passes, due to pressure from defensive end Carl Ihenacho and a pass break-up by his brother Duke on third down forced Utah to attempt a 36 yard field goal, which Vromann again missed badly.

Abandoning the run on the ensuing possession, San Jose State drove to the Utah 39 yard line, with the help of a 15 yard pass interference penalty called on the Utes. The Spartans however, failed to take advantage, after a Jordan LaSecla loss of six yards, recovering his own fumble, followed by two incomplete passes, forcing a punt. For the entire game, the Spartans only amassed 22 yards on the ground.

After a first down by Utah, the San Jose State defense stiffened. Pressure by Duke Ihenacho forced an incomplete pass on second down, and Matt Asiata was stopped cold on a third and one near the Utah 30 yard line.

Following a 56 yard punt by Sean Sellwood that pinned the Spartans back to their own nine yard line, San Jose State quickly moved out of trouble when Jordan LaSecla connected with Kevin Jurovich on the 30 yard pass play down the left sideline. The catch was upheld on replay review. The duo of LaSecla and Jurovich connected again for 18 yards, which placed the ball at the Utah 28 yard line. However, a sack on LaSecla pushed the Spartans out of field goal range, forcing them to punt.

Early in the fourth quarter the Utah offense finally got the big offensive play they were looking for. After gaining a first down near midfield on a third and one run by Matt Asiata, wide receiver Jereme Brooks caught a quick pass over the middle cris-crossed his way through Spartan defenders for a 51 yard touchdown, capping a five play, 80 yard drive and breaking the 7-7 tie..

The touchdown by the Utah offense brought new life to their defense. The Spartans quickly went three and out, with wide receiver Josh Harrison the recipient of two strong hits, one on an attempted end around which lost six yards, the second on a short catch. The Utes' offense scored once again on their next possession when

Down by two scores, the Spartans' passing offense came alive, when LaSecla, now seemingly playing with new found confidence, began to find wide open receivers downfield. Beginning at their own 23 yard line, LaSecla completed passes to Kevin Jurovich for 12 yards, Marquis Avery for 23 yards, Ryan Otten for 14 yards, and Jurovich again for 7 more, on an eight play drive, which was capped by a one yard touchdown pass to Marquis Avery, his first as a Spartan. The touchdown got the Spartans to within seven points, with Utah then leading 21-14, and 5:03 remaining.

However, Utah on their final possession went 56 yards in 9 plays, making a key first down at midfield with less that four minutes remaining. After a 46 yard run by Shakerin Sausan to the San Jose State one yard line, Utah kicked a 25 yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining to go up 24-14, and ice the game.

Despite the loss by the Spartans, the poise and confidence LaSecla displayed, particularly in the fouth quarter, may have earned him the No. 1 quarterback spot. Head Coach Dick Tomey said in his post game interview that he was not ready to name LaSecla as his number one quarterback.The Spartans record fell to 0-2 for the season, and dropped their fifth straight game, dating back to last season. Utah improved to 2-0, and extended its current win streak, the longest in the Fooball Bowl Subdivision, to 16 straight games, which dates back to the end of the 2008 regular season.

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Mike Morgan is a Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at mike@insidesparta.com

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