Bulldogs Fall to Spartans, 27-24
Nov. 26, 2011
San Jose State (5-7, 3-4 WAC) outscored the Bulldogs 17-7 in the second half to get the victory. Fresno State (4-8, 3-4) appeared to have the Spartans stopped on the Bulldog 28-yard line to set up a fourth down, but were called for a pass interference penalty that gave SJSU a first down and allowed them to run out the last minute on the clock.
"That was a tough one, but that's kind of a picture of our season," head coach Pat Hill said of the three-point loss. "We had some critical penalties, a couple of turnovers that stopped a couple of good drives and I got to give San Jose State credit, they did a heck of a job with their passing game."
Spartan quarterback Matt Faulkner, who started his career at Fresno State, threw for 363 yards on 27-of-42 passing and two touchdowns, both in the second half that gave SJSU a 27-17 lead.
Fresno State answered with 6:15 to play, when Derek Carr connected with Jalen Saunders on a 24-yard TD to cut that lead down to three. However, Fresno State was unable to get the Spartan offense off the field at the end and the pass interference penalty sealed the loss for the Bulldogs.
"Shooting ourselves in the foot and not making the plays when we need to is basically it," junior running back Robbie Rouse said afterwards when asked about Fresno State's struggles this year to win the close games.
Rouse, who ran for 151 yards on 33 carries with two touchdowns, surpassed Ron Rivers for the most rushing yards in school history in back-to-back seasons. He also became the fifth Bulldog running back to run for over 3,000 yards in a career, as he moved into third place on the all-time school rushing yardage list.
A number of feats were recorded by the Bulldogs on the night, the last home game for Fresno State's 15-member senior class, which makes the loss that more difficult to swallow.
"I feel bad for the seniors," Hill said. "I've been here 15 years and we have never had a losing season in our stadium, and that one really hurts."
Carr was 19-for-28 passing for 276 yards with the one TD to Saunders, which was Saunders' 11th touchdown reception of the season and his sixth-straight game finding the end zone.
Carr also went over 3,000 yards passing on the year, becoming the fifth Bulldog quarterback to reach the milestone.
Senior kicker Kevin Goessling became the school's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Derek Mahoney's 18 year-old school record that he set in 1993. Goessling, with one field goal and three PAT's Saturday, now has 369 points and that is the fourth-most in WAC history.
Fresno State actually outgained the Spartans, 449-424, but three turnovers hurt the Bulldogs. Fresno State did force SJSU into two turnovers with a fumble recovery by L.J. Jones on J.B. Dock's forced fumble and senior Isaiah Green intercepted a pass in the second quarter. However, San Jose State was 7-for-16 on third downs, including a big pair of third-down conversions early in that final drive.
Sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Burse had a career-high 135 yards receiving on seven catches. He was matched by SJSU's Noel Grigsby, who finished with eight catches for 114 yards and one 18-yard touchdown at 11:38 of the fourth quarter that proved to be the winning points in the game.
"We Are Your Team" - The Bulldogs close out the 2011 season next weekend at San Diego State in a 5 p.m. game being televised by CBS College Sports. It is the first meeting between the Aztecs and Bulldogs since 2002.