Reno, Nev.----- For San Jose State to win at the University of Nevada, it was going to take the Spartans' third consecutive overtime road victory covering two seasons.
San Jose State (4-6, 3-3 Mountain West) opened the overtime period with an Austin Lopez 35-yard field goal but Tyler Stewart's third touchdown pass of the game, an 11-yard pass in the right flat to tight end Jarred Gipson gave the Wolf Pack (6-4, 4-2 Mountain West) a 37-34 overtime win.
The Spartans overcame deficits of 10-0 midway through the second quarter and 24-21 after the first play of the fourth quarter to be in position for a victory.
"It was a heck of a football game and it is tough to be on the short end two weeks in a row. I'm proud of the guys," said San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher. "It was a great effort. They fought hard.
"Sometimes the football bounces the wrong way. Either team could have won it in the fourth quarter and either team could have won it in overtime. The guys left it all on the field. That's all you can ask for as a coach."
Kenny Potter ignited San Jose State after a dreary first-quarter on offense passing for a season-high three touchdowns and became the first San Jose State quarterback in 30 years to rush for more than 100 yards in a game. Two of Potter's three scoring passes were to wide receiver Tim Crawley who found himself with the ball in the end zone three times.
Crawley's first touchdown was being in the right place at the right time. On a 3rd-and-3 from the Nevada 8-yard line, Potter bailed out of the pocket, gained a first down, but fumbled at the 1-yard line. With the ball free in the end zone, Crawley fell on the ball trimming the Spartans' deficit to 10-7 with 4:38 to go before halftime.
"We dug a hole, but the guys never quit, never gave up and fought back," the Spartans coach said the team's two comebacks during the game.
"It seemed like a game of momentum where they started off with it. We got it back; they got it. And, unfortunately, the momentum turned a little bit too much in the overtime portion of the game. There's not one play that decided that football game."
A pair of back-to-back 3-and-outs by the Spartan defense fueled 21 straight San Jose State points from the end of the second quarter starting with Crawley's fumble recovery into the second half.
Potter found Crawley on a 13-yard touchdown pass capping a nine-play, 63-yard drive for the Spartans' first lead of the game, 14-10, 23 seconds before halftime. On San Jose State's first second-half possession, Potter hit wide receiver Hansell Wilson on a 28-yard play and two plays later found tight end Billy Freeman wide open down the right seam for a 21-10 lead.
Crawley's third touchdown of the game came on tightrope dance in the front right corner of the end zone when his heel hit the pylon on his second 13-yard touchdown pass from Potter giving San Jose State a 28-24 advantage.
The Spartans' third and final three-and-out defensive stop of the game set up the team's final scoring drive in regulation. With 9:49 left in the fourth quarter, San Jose State ran off 15 plays, four first downs and 7:00 of game time preceding a 37-yard Austin Lopez to put the Spartans up, 31-24.
The Wolf Pack, which earlier had run off 15 consecutive running plays in the third quarter, turned to its two-minute offense with 2:49 remaining. Stewart, who completed 16-of-26 for 174 yards and three touchdowns, was only 5-of-10, but found Gipson on a 27-yard pass that put the ball on the San Jose State 12-yard line. Three plays later, Don Jackson scored from 2 yards out to tie the game.
San Jose State still had a chance to win the game in regulation. Potter, who ran for 116 yards on 19 carries, gained 21 yards on a second-down run and found Crawley at the Nevada 34-yard line with 0:06 remaining. Lopez, who kicked a 50-yarder against Nevada in 2012, had his 51-yard field goal try blocked on the last play before overtime.
San Jose State finished with 433 yards of total offense to Nevada's 409 and outgained the Wolf Pack on the ground, 247 to 235. Neither team committed a turnover in the Spartans' second overtime game of the season.
San Jose State seeks its fifth win of the season at Hawaii on November 21. Game time is 6:00 p.m. (HST)/8:00 p.m. (PST).