Fresno State’s undefeated run came to an end on Friday at San Jose State. A Fresno State defense that had appeared to turn the corner from where they were in September fell flat against SJSU quarterback David Fales.
Fales constantly hit his receivers in one-on-one coverage - he only had 8 incompletions all game. Fales threw for 547 yards and 6 touchdowns with little pressure in the backfield. The Bulldogs only successfully stopped the Spartans three times Friday afternoon.
It got even worse for the Bulldogs when cornerback Jamal Ellis left the game with an injury.
“Obviously we struggled today,” Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said. “We knew that their quarterback was an excellent quarterback. They had very, very good skills. We had some trouble matching up with them and we had some trouble pressuring them. When you have that combination it makes for a long day and they made us pay.”
As poorly as Fresno State was playing defensively, they still matched the Spartans with an equally dominant offensive performance in the first half. The second half was a different story.
Trailing by one, Fresno State awaited the second half’s opening kickoff ready to score as easily as they had for the first 30 minutes. Instead, the Spartans tricked the Bulldogs with an onside kick and recovered. To no surprise the Spartans found themselves in the endzone for the fifth time in six possession.
Fresno State was held to a field goal on the following possession and a three-and-out on their second drive of the half. By the time they took their third possession of the second half, the defense had dug the team into a 59-44 hole and there was just 11:48 remaining.
"We ran the ball better and kept the ball longer," San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher said. "As long as you can keep Carr off the field, that was big."
The Bulldogs had to spark another thrilling finish as they had four times earlier this season, but the game was all but over just three plays into the drive. Derek Carr’s pass to Davante Adams fell short and into the hands of SJSU linebacker Keith Smith.
“We hurt ourselves in the second half,” Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said. “We had some dumb penalties that took us out of drives. They made a nice play, (Smith) did, on the interception. But other than that I think we hurt ourselves more than anything else.”
The undefeated season and possible BCS berth came to an end on Friday is surprising fashion. With more questions on defense, the Bulldogs regroup for the Mountain West Conference Championship game on Dec 7.
“They outcoached us, outplayed us,” DeRuyter said. “Give them credit. That’s why I have tremendous amount respect for teams that going undefeated because the longer you go, more and more teams that play up to you and they obviously played very, very well. We had a tough time stopping them. It was a tough loss to take, but we still have all our goals ahead of us playing for the Mountain West Championship next week.”
First Half Shootout
Fresno State entered their final regular season game at 10-0 with only San Jose State Spartans in their way, who were just 5-6. It was clear from the game’s first possession that the Spartans were in for a big day offensively. SJSU quarterback David Fales completed passes of 31 and 33 yards on a six play touchdown drive. Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr answered with two big completions totaling 73 yards and a touchdown.
Fresno State and San Jose State lit up the scoreboard and the stat sheets in the first half. The two teams combined for 83 points and 1,006 yards in just 30 minutes of play. David Fales and Derek Carr each threw for 6 touchdowns. Receivers Davante Adams and Chandler Jones each had over 100 yards and 3 touchdowns before halftime.
The only separation between the two teams was a blocked extra point that left the Bulldogs trailing by one at the break.