Season Ends With Best Defensive Effort Of 2016 In 16-14 Win Over Fresno State

Nov. 26, 2016

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Fresno, Calif.----- The Valley Trophy is on its way back to San Jose.

In the best defensive effort of the season, San Jose State shutout Fresno State in the second half and overcame a 14-7 halftime deficit with three Bryce Crawford field goals for a 16-14 victory.

The Spartans (4-8, 3-5 Mountain West) won for the second time in their last three games in Bulldog Stadium and closed the 2016 season evenly splitting six conference contests.

San Jose State needed contributions from its offense, defense and special teams in the win.

Deontae Cooper, who had just 24 carries in seven conference games, replaced an injured Malik Roberson in the second quarter and finished with a career high 26 carries for 126 yards. All but three of his rushes were in the second half as part of a  1-2 ground atatck with quarterback Kenny Potter who finished with a season-high 70 rushing yards on 17 carries. On the wet Bulldog turf, San Jose State methodically ran for 211 yards - its second best rushing output in conference play.

The defense gave up just 47 yards and two first downs in the second half to keep the Spartans in the game. Fresno State (1-11, 0-8 Mountain West) gained 245 yards and just 96 rushing on 41 carries.

After quarterback Zach Kline's 32-yard touchdown run with 5:45 left in the second quarter to give Fresno State a 14-7 lead, the Bulldogs had just three plays the rest of the game of 10 or more yards.

The special teams made their presence felt immediately when the Spartans properly defended a Fresno State fake field goal play on the San Jose State 4-yard line. Holder Blake Cusick attempted a pass to kicker Kody Kroening that would have given the Bulldogs at least a first down, but Kroening was unable to hold on to the pass when he was hit by Spartan defenders. 

On Fresno State's next possession, the Spartan defense had their first 3-and-out forcing a Bulldogs punt from their 41-yard line. Safety David Williams rushed up the middle blocking Cusick's punt. Linebacker Brett Foley recovered the the ball at the Fresno State 11-yard line. Two plays later, Potter connected with Tim Crawley, who dove for the pylon on an 8-yard touchdown play. Few guessed that San Jose State's 7-0 lead with 0:41 left in the first quarter would be its largest of the game.

Then, it was Bryce Crawford kicking field goals of 28, 22 and the game-winning 23 yarder in the second half with 6:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. Holder Josh Love did his part pulling down high snaps for Crawford who finished the season making his last 11 field goal tries.

Crawfords game-winner was set up by a Michael Carrizosa punt that pinned the Bulldogs to their 8-yard line and back-to-back sacks by defensive end Isaiah Irving that left Fresno State at its 12. Cusick's 25-yard punt gave San Jose State excellent field position with 10:04 to go.

Fresno State had two chances to regain the lead, but had drives stall on its 30-yard line with just over four minutes to go and at its 17-yard line in the final minute.

Fittingly, linebackers Ethan Aguayo, who was placed on scholarship two weeks ago, and Christian Tago, playing in his final game, made the last two plays for the Spartans stopping Kline for losses of 1 and 2 yards on back-to-back plays when the Bulldogs were faced with a 3-and-1 to keep their hopes alive. In the game, San Jose State made a season high 14.0 tackles for loss in the game - their best figure in a game since the 2008 season.

As the Spartans celebrated with the Valley Trophy on the field, a rainbow broke through the sky congratulating San Jose State on a successful close to the season.