SJSU beats Fresno State 24-14 for first win over top rival since
San Jose – Fresno State was the opponent that checked the pulse of San Jose State.

Would the Spartans be satisfied with a winning season? Would a bowl bid be enough? Did the game really mean that much to SJSU?

No, no and yes!

Coach Dick Tomey challenged the Spartans and they responded. The 24-14 win Saturday over the Bulldogs was as meaningful as any SJSU has had in this breakthrough season.

“We asked the guys to give it their best effort of the year and they did that,” Tomey said. “We asked them to respond to adversity and they did that. We asked them to have their best hitting game. I think they did. We asked them to do a great job of playing intelligently, and they had four penalties for 20 yards. They overcame a touchdown against our offense. Our kicking game was just tremendous. It was our best victory of the year in terms of just a complete victory in all facets.”

Understand, Tomey is not often given to outbursts of praise. He is usually more reserved in his comments. He had spoken earlier in the week how important he felt it was to play well against the Bulldogs, a team that has dominated SJSU so much that Tomey said it was no longer a rivalry because of the recent one-sidedness of the series. His message obviously got through.

The Spartans (8-4) hadn’t beaten Fresno since 1990 which, coincidentally, was the last time SJSU went to a bowl game and won as many as eight games. The Bulldogs entered with a three-game win streak and had won 12 straight in the series.

The Spartans, however, were prepared, as they showed on the first play from scrimmage when Adam Tafralis threw a strike to James Broussard that the senior wide receiver turned into an electrifying 85-yard touchdown play. On the second play, Christopher Owens’ first of two interceptions set up a 10-yard TD pass from Tafralis to James T. Callier.

But it wasn’t until the Bulldogs tied the game at 14 that San Jose State showed its true resolve and illustrated why this has been such a special season. This is when the Spartans’ defense, which has been particularly brilliant in the second half of games, really stepped up. It took one odd sequence of events offensively to turn the game in SJSU’s favor.

The Spartans faced a fourth-and-a-short-2 at the Fresno 42. They called a timeout and those in the announced crowd of 22,235 naturally figured SJSU would go for a first down. Instead, they came out in punt formation and took a delay of game penalty. From the 47, Waylon Prather boomed a kick that the officials said was downed inside the Fresno 1.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were flagged for running into the punter. Tomey opted to take the play until Fresno coach Pat Hill called for a review of the play. It was determined the ball was downed in the end zone, bringing it out to the 20. So Tomey decided to take the penalty, meaning the Spartans were in their original position at the 42.

This time SJSU went for the first down. Tafralis deftly faked to Patrick Perry and launched a pass that James Jones turned into a 42-yard TD. The defense did the rest, holding an opponent scoreless in the second half for the fifth time this season.

It closed out a 6-1 home schedule with the only loss by three to undefeated Boise State. That leaves the Spartans one more meaningful game.

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