Provo, Utah ----- Touchdown receptions by Tre Walker and Tre Hartley in the last half of the fourth quarter gave the San Jose State University football team reason to leave Lavell Edwards Stadium with their heads held high.
But five turnovers, three of them in the first half and two in the first quarter, plagued the Spartans (1-8) in a 41-20 non-conference loss to BYU.
The Cougars (2-7) ended their seven-game losing streak turned a fumble on a Rashead Johnson kickoff return into a touchdown for a 14-0 lead and a Tyler Nevens fumble into the first of two Rhett Almond field goals to close out the first half scoring at 24-6 with 5:09 remaining in the second quarter.
Two Montel Aaron fumbles in the second half led to 10 more BYU points before the end of the game.
Despite the miscues, San Jose State managed to stay close into the second quarter. Bryce Crawford's second field goal of the game, a 25-yard boot, closed the deficit to 14-6. The Spartans again had red zone offensive execution. After pushing the ball to the BYU 9-yard line, San Jose State's drive stalled there.
Unfortunately, two plays later BYU running back K.J. Hall found a crease in the right side of the Spartan defense, broke to the sideline in front of the BYU bench and outraced everyone for a 75-yard touchdown run and a 21-6 lead with 10:27 to go in the second quarter.
Still Aaron and his teammates battled back, particularly on a day when BYU's defense seemed focused on limiting San Jose State's offense to short yardage passing plays. Aaron finished the game completing 25-of-39 passes with a pass interception for 198 yards and the two fourth-quarter scores. Until he connected with fellow freshman Walker for a 30-yard scoring play, the Spartans had just one play of 20 yards through three quarters. The slender receiver out-leaped a defender and battled his way into the end zone for his first San Jose State touchdown.
The Spartans finished with 338 yards of total offense including a season-high 112 rushing yards from Nevens on a season-high 26 carries.
BYU racked 598 yards of total offense. Quarterback Tanner Mangum took advantage of a depleted San Jose State defensive line and often found secondary receiving targets in the flats when the Spartan coverage in the deep secondary was spot on. Mangum threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Micah Simon caught two of Mangum's touchdown throws -- a 23-yarder to open the scoring in the game and a 41-yard play that extended the Cougars lead to 41-6.
San Jose State returns home to host San Diego State, Saturday, November 4, in a 7:30 p.m. game in CEFCU Stadium. ESPNU will televise the contest.