Fales-Jones Passing Combo Not Enough At Minnesota

Keith Smith was in on a career best 21 tackles. (Photo by USA Today)

Sept. 21, 2013

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Minneapolis, Minn.-----San Jose State University's best 15 minutes of offensive football this season was not enough to keep up with a methodical Minnesota ground attack that led to the Golden Gophers' 43-24 non-conference win over the Spartans. 

Though David Fales threw for three touchdowns and 439 yards and San Jose State (1-2) outgained Minnesota (4-0), 486 to 424, the Golden Gophers rushed for a season-best 353 yards and six touchdowns - five of them from a yard out. Other than a Spartan 17-point second-quarte surge, Minnesota controlled the game's flow holding on to the ball for 41:02 out of the game's 60 minutes.  

Five of the six Golden Gophers' touchdown drives were nine plays or more and four of Minnesota's first five touchdown drives covered either 75 or 83 yards.

The Spartan signal caller connected twice with Chandler Jones on scoring plays of 76 and 32 yards on back-to-back possessions that left San Jose State (1-2) trailing 20-17 at halftime. Fales was especially sharp the first 30 minutes completing 12-of-16 for 294 yards. He would finish 22-of-35, but had a pair of second-half passes tipped downfield that resulted in Golden Gopher interceptions.

In his first start for the Golden Gophers, redshirt freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner was equally impressive as Fales, but with his legs. Leidner rushed for 151 yards on 24 carries and four touchdowns. Running back David Cobb chipped with 120 yards and two 1-yard scores. It was Minnesota's halftime adjustments defensively that won the game for the Golden Gophers. San Jose State failed to get a first down in the third quarter on its three possessions. Minnesota took advantage scoring the first four times it had the ball in the second half.

After Leidner scored for the third time from a yard out on the first play of the fourth quarter, Minnesota had a 36-17 lead with 14:52 remaining. The teams traded touchdowns with Cobb's second 1-yard scoring run and Jones notching his school-record tying third touchdown of the game with some nifty footwork on the receiving end of a 28-yard pass from Fales.

In all, Minnesota came up with three takeaways that included a Jones fumble on the Golden Gophers 8-yard line in the first quarter. Also, on the Spartans' second possession, San Jose State also failed to convert on a 4th-down-and-1 on the Minnesota 15-yard line when Jason Simpson was stopped for a 2-yard loss that was the starting point for the Golden Gophers' first long touchdown derive of the game.

San Jose State opens Mountain West play, Friday, September 27, hosting Utah State in a 6:00 p.m. nationally televised game by ESPN.