By Jacob Kendall
BYU was riding high heading into San Jose this weekend. They had won two games in a row: Georgia Tech and Idaho. Beating Georgia Tech on the road 41-7 was impressive because Georgia Tech will be representing the ACC Coastal Division in the ACC Title game. And then BYU became Bowl eligible by beating lowly Idaho 52-13 at home on senior night.
San Jose State scored first on a 51 yard touchdown pass from David Fales to Noel Grisby. After a blocked PAT the Spartans lead 6-0. BYU answered back quickly as a 9 play 79 yard drive was capped by a 16 yard Jamal Williams rushing touchdown. And for BYU it was down-hill from there. San Jose State scored touchdowns on their next two possessions capturing a 20-7 lead–a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the game.
The Spartans’ fourth drive started out like the first three, that is to say, it started well. They marched 56 yards before Daniel Sorensen intercepted the ball at the BYU 20 yard line, ending the drive. From that point on the BYU defense would hold the Spartans to 7 consecutive punts and zero points.
The Cougar offense started to move the ball effectively at the end of the 3rd quarter. They drove the ball inside of San Jose State territory six times with five of those inside the 30 yard line. Two drives ended in fumbles, one on an interception, one in a punt, one turnover on downs and one touchdown (1 for 6 in Spartan territory in the 2nd half is the stat of the game.) BYU finally found the end zone on a 4th and 10 play from the 20 yard line where Riley eluded a sack and found David Foote for a catch and run touchdown. Following the touchdown BYU made the play of the game on a successful onside kick try recovered by Cody Hoffman. From there BYU moved to the Spartans 21 yard line. And then Riley hit by a blind side blitz fumbled and it was recovered by the Spartans. BYU’s comeback hopes stymied and Riley Nelsons legacy cemented on that single play.
The BYU defense again did enough to win the game. They held the Spartans scoreless in the second half, and they held them under their target of 24 points. But for the fourth time this season BYU held their opponent to 24 or fewer points and lost. It was another one-score loss with an opportunity to win the game at the end.
The BYU offense had 24 first downs, compared to just 17 for San Jose State. BYU gained 422 total yards (335 passing, 87 rushing), 0ut-gaining San Jose State in all categories: 364 total yards, 305 passing yards and 59 rushing yards. But BYU’s offense turned it over 3 times compared to just 1 turnover by San Jose State. The BYU offense moved the ball and gained first downs. But for yet another game their turnovers and inability to score cost the team the game.
The 2012 BYU football team will be remembered as one where the team could not pull out a close game. In 2011 they pulled out comeback wins against Ole Miss, Utah State and Tulsa. This year they add yet another “almost win” to the loss column.