Ground Attack Powers Spartans To 34-24 Win At UNLV

Jarrod Lawson made it back-to-back 100-plus yard rushing games with a career best 187 yards on 28 carries.

Nov. 2, 2013

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Las Vegas, Nev.-----The best ground game in seven years and two interceptions turned into touchdowns powered San Jose State University to a 34-24 victory over UNLV in a Mountain West Conference football game.

Behind career bests of 187 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown by Jarrod Lawson and 94 yards on eight attempts by Thomas Tucker, the Spartans (5-3, 3-1 Mountain West) gained 312 of their 492 yards of total offense in their fourth win in a row and third straight on the road.

The defense did its part too limiting the Rebels (5-4, 3-2 Mountain West) to 86 yards rushing. UNLV's career leading rusher Tim Cornett gained a season-low 24 yards on 12 carries. Cornett came into the game third in the Mountain West with 831 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Now alone in second place in the conference's West Division, San Jose State raced out of the gates with a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. The Spartans took the opening kickoff and methodically marched 82 yards on 13 plays culminating a 13-yard connection between quarterback David Fales and wide receiver Chandler Jones.

After Bené Benwikere picked off a pass for the third game in a row on UNLV's first possession, the Spartans reached into their bag of tricks to extend their lead to 14-0. On 1st-and-10 from the UNLV 30-yard line, Fales handed off to tight end Billy Freeman on what appeared to be an end-around. Freeman stopped and the former high school quarterback and threw a 30-yard strike to wide receiver Kyle Nunnfor the Spartans' second touchdown in as many possessions.

San Jose State appeared to be most effective offensively with the quick-hitting ground game sparked by Lawson and Tucker. A Nolan Kohorst field goal from 20 yards out put UNLV on the scoreboard for the first time at 14-3 early in the second quarter.

The significance of the Rebels' three-points was the defense rising up after the first of two interceptions thrown by Fales in San Jose State territory. UNLV got down to the 1-yard line and settled for a field goal.

The Spartans closed out the first half with Lawson capped a 74-yard, 3-play drive with a 31-yard scamper up the middle and Austin Lopezbooted a 20-yard field goal giving the Spartans a 24-3 halftime lead. Before Lawson raced for his score of the game, Tucker gave an early indication of what was to come later with the first of two 37-yard runs.

Bidding to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2000, UNLV came out with a new-found vigor on both sides of the ball in the second half. Quarterback Caleb Herring connected with Marcus Sullivan on a 19-yard scoring play and then two possessions later ran in from a yard out to cut San Jose State's lead to 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter.

The teams traded touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter. On a 3rd-and-7 from the UNLV 37 and with the Rebels' defense keying on a Fales throw, the Spartans snuck Tucker past the UNLV pass rush, into a wide-open secondary and the freshman only in his fourth game as a running back did the rest for the game's final touchdown.

Lopez added a 44-yard field goal with 2:56 to go to close out the scoring. Needing two scores, the Rebels settled for a 45-yard field goal try by Kohorst, but the UNLV kicker missed wide right. Fittingly, three runs by Lawson gave the Spartans the win.

Fales finished with a San Jose State low of 150 passing yards on 15-of-30 passes with two interceptions. Still, the Spartans outgained the Rebels, 492 to 351.

San Jose State has a chance to make it five wins in a row next week hosting San Diego State, Saturday, November 9. Game time is 7:30 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.