Fresno, Calif.----- Three Fresno State touchdowns in a 2:02 span just before halftime propelled the Bulldogs to a 38-24 win over San José State University in a Mountain West football game.
Despite a season-high 350 passing yards, the Spartans (3-6, 2-3 Mountain West) lost for the third week in a row. Fresno State (4-6, 3-3 Mountain West) ended a three-game losing streak and took possession of the Valley Trophy.
The Spartans took a 14-7 lead with big plays. With blocks from guard Jeremiah Kolone and center David Peterson, running back Tyler Ervin burst through the line and past the Fresno State secondary for a 51-yard touchdown run tying the score at 7-7 with 7:30 to go in the first quarter.
Then on San José State's next possession, quarterback Joe Gray split two Fresno State defenders with a pass to Jabari Carr near the San Jose State 40-yard line and Carr sprinted the rest of the way for an 86-yard touchdown play.
The lead held up for nearly a quarter as the San José State defense came up with a pair of second-quarter takeaways on a Cleveland Wallace, III fumble recovery on the Spartans' 6-yard line and a Jimmy Pruitt interception in the end zone.
Following Pruitt's interception, the game turned in Fresno State's favor when Bulldog linebacker read a screen pass intended for Ervin was high and Bulldog linebacker Kyrie Wilson came up with the interception at the San José State 24-yard line and fell forward to the 20.
Unlike the Spartans, the Bulldogs capitalized on their takeaways in the game. On 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, quarterback Brian Burrell found freshman tight end Chad Olsen wide open in the end zone to tie the game, 14-14, with 2:57 before halftime. Olsen's mom, Gayle Olsen was an all-conference volleyball player at San José State in the early 1980's.
Just over a minute later, Burrell connected with wide receiver Josh Harper for an 18-yard scoring strike for a 21-14 lead. Unable to get a first down on its last three possessions in the first half, San José State's Michael Carrizosa found himself deep in Spartan territory for his third punt of quarter. A missed blocking assignment led to Da'Mari Scott blocking Carrizosa's rugby-style punt in the air and into the hands of T.J. Thomas who needed only nine yards to cap a 21-point explosion and a 28-7 Fresno State lead into the locker room at halftime.
Burrell, who had his best game of the season, completed 20-of-26 passes with an interception for 207 yards and three touchdowns. His final scoring strike came on a 19-yard play to Harper for a 35-14 lead. Harper led all players with seven receptions for 67 yards.
Gray completed 26-of-44 with two costly interceptions for 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Carr who had his most productive game of the season. The two hooked up on a 4-yard scoring play and with a 31-yard Austin Lopez field goal early in the fourth quarter, the Spartans had life at 35-24.
After stopping Fresno State promptly on the Bulldogs' next possession, San José State marched to the Bulldogs' 32-yard line. On a 1st-and-10, Gray aimed for Carr along the San José State sideline, but cornerback Charles Washington was in position and came up with a game=clinching interception.
The Spartans' mistakes went beyond the interceptions and the blocked punt. There was a late fourth-quarter fumble and six false-start penalties during the fateful second quarter. San José State finished the game with seven penalties for just 30 yards, but it was the repetition of the infractions that encouraged the Fresno State fans to get vocally-involved in the Bulldogs' rally.
San José State can find ways to correct its mistakes in time for its November 15 season-home finale against Hawaii. Game time in Spartan Stadium is 1:30 p.m.