SAN JOSE, Calif. ----- Quarterback Kenny Potter threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more leading San Jose State University to a 66-35 non-conference win over Portland State.
Potter connected on touchdown passes of 36 yards to tight end Billy Freeman and 9 to wide receiver Tre Hartley in the first half and 46 to wide receiver Justin Holmes with 8:52 left in the third quarter giving the Spartans (1-1) a 42-14 lead.
The senior from San Pedro, Calif., also scored on runs of 8 and 1 yards. His second rushing touchdown put San Jose State ahead to stay, 21-14, with 1:04 left in the first half and was the start of four consecutive unanswered touchdown drives by the Spartans.
Potter's two rushing touchdowns were part of six scored by San Jose State in a 409-yard team effort - the eighth best single-game total in school history. The running back committee concept head coach Ron Caragher postulated during the preseason was in evidence Saturday. Seventh-year senior Deontae Cooper had the bulk of his action in the first and third quarters. Redshirt freshman Zamore Zigler provided a change of pace in the second and Malik Roberson took over in the fourth quarter.
Cooper recorded his first 100-plus yard rushing game since his 2013 freshman season at the University of Washington. Cooper led the Spartans with 12 yards on 18 carries and scored on a 26-yard run for a 49-21 lead with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
Zigler was a second 100-yard rusher for the Spartans with 111 yards on 15 carries. Zigler's 74-yard touchdown run was eclipsed by sophomore Malik Roberson whose 87-yard burst for six points gave San Jose State its biggest lead of the game, 59-21, with 13:11 left to play.
It wasn't all offense for the Spartans in their first win in the newly-named CEFCU Stadium. San Jose State's defense came up with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries and turned them into 17 points.
Cornerback Andre Chachere came up with two of the interceptions. The first stopped a potential Portland State scoring drive with San Jose State ahead, 14-7. Teammate Maurice McKnight tipped an Alex Kuresa pass headed for the end zone and Chachere returned the interception 63 yards. His second interception set up a two-play, 46-yard scoring drive that Cooper finished off with a 26-yard run.
Even the kickoff coverage team recovered a fumble when safety Chandler Hawkins fielded a fumbled kickoff by Portland State's Josh Brown.
The Spartans finished with 642 yards of total offense to Portland State's 458. The Vikings (1-1) moved the ball with big plays to stay in the game in the first half. Kuresa accounted for Portland State's first touchdown when he caught a pass from wide receiver Josh Kraght on a reverse and took it 78 yards in front of the Vikings' sideline to tie the game, 7-7. Paris Penn, the game's leading rusher with 137 yards on 14 carries scored on runs of 36 and 22 yards.
After three turnovers the week before at Tulsa, San Jose State did not lose the ball.
The Spartans have to be equally protective of the ball next Saturday, September 17, when San Jose State hosts Utah in a 7:30 p.m. game.