San Jose, Calif.----- San Jose State University used and needed everything in its arsenal for a 30-24 win over UNLV in a Mountain West football game.
The San Jose State defense, outside of Charles Williams' 75-yard touchdown giving UNLV (3-6, 2-3 Mountain West) its only lead of the game, 7-3 at 5:07 in the first quarter, played one of its best halves of the season and then clinched the win at end on a Trevon Bierria pass interception at the San Jose State 14-yard line with les than a minute to go in the contest.
In between, kicker Bryce Crawford converted three field goals. The last two were successive career longs of 39 yards giving San Jose State a 27-10 halftime lead and then, one of 44 for the Spartans' final points in the game midway through the third quarter.
Crawford put San Jose State (3-6, 2-3 Mountain West) on the scoreboard first with a 33-yard field goal after the Spartans second possession of the game stalled at the UNLV 16 after a pair of Potter incompleted passes.
UNLV answered two plays later with Williams' career long run for its 7-3 lead.
After a 39-yard kickoff return by San Jose State's Rahshead Johnson, the combination of Potter throwing to Hartley and Tim Crawley finding openings in the UNLV defense led to the Spartans regaining the lead for good. A Crawley run around right end for 17 yards put the ball at the UNLV 15-yard line. Two plays later, it was Crawley again going around the right side from 12 yards out for a touchdown and a 10-7 Spartan advantage with 1:41 to go in the first quarter.
Crawley was a pest to UNLV the entire night matching a career best with eight receptions for a career high 114 yards. He also gained 21 yards on four carries topped by his go-ahead touchdown run.
San Jose State built its lead to 17 points on second-quarter touchdown passes of 63 and 29 yards by Potter to Hartley, who finished with five receptions for 104 yards.
UNLV's Evan Pantels stopped the San Jose State 21-point scoring binge with a 37-yard field goal with 1:46 before halftime leaving the Spartans ahead, 24-10.
Potter put Crawford in position for his first career long field goal of the game with an 11-yard run and a completion of 19 yards to wide receiver Justin Holmes. In between, freshman Zamore Zigler, the Spartans' leading rusher for the night with 77 yards on 18 carries, ripped off an 18-yard run.
Especially after Crawford's 44 yard field goal from inside the left hashmark and the Spartans stopping UNLV on a 3-and-out for the fourth time in the game, it appeared San Jose State had clear control of the game.
However, UNLV got on track offensively with Kurt Palandech at quarterback. He replaced starter Dalton Sneed in the second quarter after the redshirt freshman completed just 2-of-9 passes for 24 yards and was sacked twice by an assertive Spartan defense.
Palandech gave the Rebels hope late in the third quarter when he evaded San Jose State pressure on a 4th-and-goal from the Spartans' 2-yard line long enough to find tight end Andrew Price in the end zone cutting the deficit to 30-17.
Palandech got the Rebels even closer using his legs for a 16-yard touchdown run for what turned out to be the game's final score with 5:19 remaining.
San Jose State hoped to duplicate a clock-consuming drive for the win like it did two weeks prior against Nevada. The Spartans picked up first downs on a third-down pass completion to Shane Smith and a 15-yard UNLV face mask penalty on a 3-yard run by Zigler, but stalled on the UNLV 39-yard line.
The Rebels had 1:57 to cover 96 yards after Michael Carrizosa's punt was downed by Andre Chachere at the 4-yard line. A Palandech 9-yard run, two pass completions and a 15-yard personal foul against San Jose State put UNLV on the Spartan 44-yard line. On third down, Palandech tried to find a hole in the middle of the San Jose State defense, but Bierria beat a UNLV receiver to the ball preserving the Spartans' victory.
In the win, San Jose State did not commit a turnover for the third game in a row - a first since the 1998 season.
The Spartans won't have long to enjoy the win with a Friday, November 4 game at Boise State.