Spartans' surprise shot stuns Fresno


SAN JOSE, Calif. — After watching two potent offenses march up and down the field with ease in the first half, San Jose State coach Ron Caragher knew he needed to do something bold to get an extra possession in the second.

An onside kick to open the half accomplished just that and helped the Spartans become bowl-eligible with their first win over a ranked opponent in 13 years.

San Jose State converted that surprise play into a touchdown and David Fales did the rest by throwing for a school-record 547 yards and six scores in a 62-52 victory Friday over No. 16 Fresno State.

“The way things were going, it becomes a matter of possessions with two offenses that were constantly scoring,” Caragher said. “It was executed to perfection. A huge thing to gain this extra possession.”

That combined with a fourth-quarter interception by Carr proved to be much for the Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 Mountain West) to overcome as they saw their hopes for a possible BCS bowl berth end with the loss.

Fales was every bit as good as the more heralded Carr, matching his six first-half touchdown passes and completing 37 of 45 passes in a near perfect performance that made the Spartans (6-6, 4-4) eligible to go to a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1986-87.

“We still had stuff to play for,” San Jose State linebacker Keith Smith said. “Our backs were against the wall to get eligible for a bowl game.”

Carr threw for 519 yards and six touchdowns, but also had a fourth-quarter interception for the Bulldogs. Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 264 yards and three scores.

The loss ended Fresno State’s chances to beat out Northern Illinois for a spot in a prestigious BCS game. The Huskies are the only undefeated team from a non-automatic qualifying conference.

“It’s hard,” Carr said. “Guys are torn up as well they should be. If you like losing there’s something wrong with you.”

The Bulldogs will still play in the Mountain West title game next week against either Utah State or Boise State but had their chances at a big bowl payoff done in by a porous defense.

Fales had his pick of targets with freshman Tyler Winston catching 10 passes for 164 yards and a score, Kyle Nunn having 10 for 160 yards and two touchdowns and Chandler Jones finishing with eight for 146 yards and three TDs.

“Our receivers were making good plays,” Fales said. “Playing an offense like that, field goals weren’t going to win the game. We needed touchdowns.”

That entertaining performance has the Spartans hopeful of making a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1986-87. The Mountain West has six bowl slots but could have eight eligible teams if Colorado State and Wyoming win today.

After a back-and-forth first half that ended with San Jose State on top 42-41, assistant coach Terry Malley convinced Caragher to take the chance with the onside kick just before the start of the second half. Fresno State’s coaches warned their players about the possibility but the Spartans executed it to perfection and it led to a 7-yard touchdown run by Thomas Tucker.

“They told me to get ready, we’re going to onside-kick it,” Fales said. “I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go for it.’”

The teams then traded field goals before Fales drove the Spartans to their eighth touchdown on his 1-yard keeper that made it 59-44 as San Jose State did a good job of milking the clock in the second half.

Smith helped seal the win with a leaping interception, ending Carr’s streak of 305 straight passes without throwing a pick. That set up a second field goal by Austin Lopez that made it 62-44 and led to chants of “Over-rated! Over-rated!” from the crowd.

No. 12 Oregon 36,

Oregon State 35

EUGENE, Ore. — Marcus Mariota threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Josh Huff with 29 seconds left and No. 12 Oregon overcame a tenacious effort by Oregon State in the 117th edition of the Civil War rivalry.

Mariota threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns — all to Huff, who had nine catches for a season-high 186 yards — and the Ducks (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) sealed their sixth straight 10-win season. It was also the team’s sixth straight victory over the Beavers in the series.

No. 15 LSU 31,

ARKANSAS 27

BATON ROUGE, La. — Backup quarterback Anthony Jennings lofted a 49-yard touchdown pass to Travin Dural with 1:15 left, and 15 LSU pulled out a tense victory.

Jennings, a freshman, entered the game after senior starter Zach Mettenberger hurt his left leg in the fourth quarter, and the game came down to whether he could drive the Tigers 99 yards in the final 3 minutes.

He responded with a pair of clutch first-down passes and a 21-yard scramble to set up his winning scoring strike that kept LSU (9-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) alive for a fourth-straight 10-win campaign.

Washington 27, Washington State 17

SEATTLE — Bishop Sankey blitzed Washington State for 139 of his 200 yards rushing in the second half to become Washington’s all-time single-season rushing leader, and the Huskies reclaimed the Apple Cup.

After a sluggish first half, Washington put the game on the legs of its star running back and he responded to cap his record-setting junior season. Sankey bettered Corey Dillon’s record of 1,695 yards set in 1996 and will have a chance in a bowl game to establish a mark that will be difficult to top.

Sankey finished the regular season with 1,775 yards rushing.

Miami 41, Pittsburgh 31

PITTSBURGH — Stacy Coley hauled in a pair of touchdown passes and zig-zagged 73 yards on an end around for another score as Miami kept alive its slim hopes for a spot in the ACC title game.

Allen Hurns caught nine passes for 173 yards for the Hurricanes (9-3, 5-3 ACC), who raced to a quick 14-point lead and had no real trouble with the Panthers (6-6, 3-5).

Isaac Bennett ran for a 141 yards and a score for Pitt but the Panthers were never really in it.

Miami assured itself of its first nine-win season since 2009 with the victory. The Hurricanes need losses by Duke and Virginia Tech today to earn a rematch with No. 2 Florida State in the title game in Charlotte next Saturday.

Bowling Green 24, Buffalo 7

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Bowling Green will meet No. 18 Northern Illinois in the Mid-American Conference championship game after securing the MAC East division title with the win at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Travis Greene rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown, Matt Johnson threw for one touchdown and passed for another, and the Falcons’ defense held Buffalo to season lows in points and yards (236).

Bowling Green (9-3, 7-1 MAC) managed just seven first downs on its first seven possessions, but scored touchdowns on consecutive drives in the third quarter to take control of the game.

Marshall 59, East Carolina 28

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. — Rakeem Cato threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as Marshall won the East Division of the Conference USA.

Marshall (9-3, 7-1) was up 24-0 after Cato threw a 3-yard TD pass to Gator Hoskins with 9:33 left to play in the second quarter. The Pirates scored before halftime on back-to-back turnovers by Marshall, with a Vintavious Cooper 2-yard TD run and a field goal by Warren Harvey. East Carolina (9-3, 6-2) was never able to get closer than a 14-point margin for the rest of the game.

Essray Taliaferro led the Thundering Herd with a game-high 161 yards rushing on 26 carries and surpassed 1,000 yards for the season.

Bragging rights take backseat in Iron Bowl

AUBURN, Ala. — Bragging rights are taking a backseat for a change in this Iron Bowl.

It’s No. 1 Alabama versus No. 4 Auburn in a rivalry game that has reached epic proportions in the state beyond even the usual desire for 364 days of rubbing it in.

The winner of only the second Top-5 matchup in the Iron Bowl’s 78-year history will play for the Southeastern Conference championship, and live on in the national title derby.

Crimson Tide receiver Kevin Norwood’s prediction: “Oh man, it’s going to be a battle.”

The Tide stands as a 10.5-point favorite, but the Tigers have arguably been the biggest surprise of the season.

They’ve been routed two straight years.

Auburn tailback Tre Mason says the Tigers “are fired up and we like being the underdog.”

By wire sources