Auburn, Ala.----- In spite of a season-high four turnovers and putting its defense in stressful situations the entire evening, San Jose State trailed Auburn by just seven points, 28-21, with less than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
One more stop and the Spartans could think about either overtime or its first non-conference road win since 2012 at Navy. Instead, Tigers running back Peyton Barber scored his fifth touchdown of the game on a 36-yard burst leading Auburn (3-2) to a 35-21 victory over San Jose State (2-3).
Twice in the second half, the Spartans trimmed their deficit to seven, 21-14 and 28-21, but could get no closer. Each time it was a Barber touchdown that gave Auburn a 14-point cushion. The Tigers running back finished with 28 carries for 147 yards and his career best five touchdowns. He had 119 of his yards in the second half.
San Jose State running back Tyler Ervin backed up his school record 300-yard performance against Fresno State with a game-high 160 yards on 27 carries and the Spartans' final touchdown. His 2-yard run with 5:38 in regulation gave San Jose State hope.
Electing to go for onside kick, Bryce Crawford's attempt went past the first line of the Auburn "hands team" and initially looked like a free ball until wide receiver D'haquille Williams fell on the ball at the San Jose State 45-yard line. Two plays later, Barber was in the end zone for the final score of the night.
On three of the four Spartan kickoffs, Auburn started a drive on the San Jose State side of the field. The Spartans forced the Tigers to punt the first time on the game's opening possession, but coiuld not get the same outcome the rest of the way.
Wide receiver Tyler Winston made a nifty grab in the right corner of the end zone on an 18-yard toss from quarterback Joe Gray with 4:55 remaining in the first quarter to tie the game, 7-7. Winston has touchdown receptions in each of the last two games.
Gray sliced his way into paydirt for the first time in 2015 on a 1-yard run capping a masterful 14-play, 75-yard drive leaving San Jose State trailing 21-14. Gray would finish 21-of-33 with two interceptions for 224 yards. The interceptions came in the first quarter when a pass bounced off of Tyler Ervin and in the fourth quarter when tight end Billy Freeman had a Gray pass go in and out of his grasp and off his leg into the hands of the Tigers' Austin Davis at the San Jose State 47-yard line.
Statistically, the Spartans gained more yards, 406 to 342, had more first downs, 22 to 15, and kept control of the ball for 7:54 more than the Tigers. That wasn't enough to pull off San Jose State's first win against a SEC opponent in six tries.
San Jose State returns to conference play, Saturday, October 10, taking on UNLV, in a 6:00 p.m. (PT) game.