Las Vegas, Nev.----- The San Jose State University football team demonstrated its resiliency in a 33-27 overtime victory over UNLV in a Mountain West conference game.
For the first time this season, the Spartans (3-3, 2-1 Mountain West) came away with a comeback triumph and ended a seven-game road losing streak. San Jose State trailed 10-0 early in the second quarter and 24-20 with 3:41 left in regulation play.
Despite being limited to his lowest rushing output of the season and muffing a punt that led to a UNLV fourth-quarter touchdown, running back Tyler Ervin scored the game's final two touchdowns. He was on the receiving end of a 21-yard, fourth-down and 10 pass from starting quarterback Kenny Potter with 1:08 remaining in the fourth quarter and on a 2-yard run in overtime that withstood a replay review.
Ervin was credited with 73 rushing yards on 18 carries, but caught a career best eight passes for 74 yards and finished with 249 all-purpose yards. He accounted for San Jose State's entire overtime offensive output gaining 25 yards on carries of 6, 17, no gain and the final two.
Potter started and finished the game at quarterback for the Spartans in his first appearance since the second quarter of the Oregon State game when he left with an ankle injury. After a sluggish first quarter in which he passed for just 26 yards, he finished the win completing 30 for 48 with an interception for 329 yards and two touchdowns.
The Spartan quarterback showed his own personal resiliency shaking off any perceived rust leading the Spartans to three consecutive scoring drives in a 6:36 span of the second quarter and a 17-10 halftime lead.
After Maurice McKnight picked off a Kurt Palandech pass at the San Jose State 35 and weaved his way for 54 yards, Potter connected with a wide open Billy Freeman on the next play for an 11-yard score to tie the game at 10-10.
The Spartans took their first lead of the game, 17-10 with 1:09 before halftime, when Potter raced 20 yards to the end zone. Potter's 42-yard pass to Tyler Winston pass play preceded his nifty dash to the end zone.
San Jose State also got a big lift from its kicking game. Austin Lopez handled all of the placekicking making three PATs, field goals of 30 and 34 yards and forced UNLV to take all five of his kickoffs as touchbacks. UNLV's average starting field position was its 28-yard line compared to a week ago when Auburn's average field position was its 46.
Despite holding a 20-10 lead after Lopez's second field goal, UNLV bounced back on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes by reserve quarterback Kurt Palandech who was 15-of-30 with two interceptions for 217 yards. The first scoring pass of 25 yards to Andrew Price was set up when Ervin was caught off balance attempting to fair catch a punt at the San Jose State 34-yard line.
Ervin temporarily put the Spartans ahead for the second time in the game with his first score with 1:08 remaining, but UNLV kicker Nicolai Bornand converted a 49-yard field goal with 11 seconds on the clock to force the overtime.
After winning the toss, the Spartans elected to start on defense and tackle for loss by Christian Tago on 1st down and a combined sack by defensive tackle Tony Popovich and linebacker Frank Ginda on 3rd down to force Bornand to attempt a 43-yard field goal. Defensive end Isaiah Irving applied prssure and thwarted the Rebels' (2-4, 1-1 Mountain West) attempt for overtime points.
Then, it was Ervin who finished off UNLV and gave the Spartans their first road win since the 2014 overtime victory at Wyoming.
San Jose State remains in control of its destiny in the conference's West Division. The Spartans host San Diego State, Saturday, October 17, in a 7:30 p.m. game in Spartan Stadium.