In the process of winning their fourth win in a row, the Spartans held the Navy offense to its fewest yards gained in 10 years.
Austin Lopez kicked four field goals to complement the strong defensive effort as San Jose State blanked the Midshipmen 12-0, marking the first time in six years that Navy had been shut out.
Lopez’s kicks came from 29, 19, 32 and 43 yards as the Spartans failed to score a touchdown despite gaining 388 yards.
“For a freshman kicker to come in and set a school record is phenomenal,” said San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre. “I would have been alright with 3-0. I honestly don’t care about the points. I just want the W’s.”
Lopez’s 4-for-4 night tied a school record. He is now 9 for 9 on field goal attempts this season. The 43-yard field goal matched his season-long.
“I feel good going on the field every time I’m called on because I feel my team supports me and knows I am going to make it. They have confidence me,” Lopez said.
Lopez’s final field goal came with 7:46 to play after the Navy offense had failed to pick up a first down on a fourth-down play at the Spartans’ 34.
“The last one was most important because it put us up by two scores,” Lopez said.
The 4-1 start by the Spartans is the best since the 2006 New Mexico Bowl team opened the season with a loss followed by four wins in a row. They open Western Athletic Conference play in two weeks against Utah State.
The last time Navy opened the season 1-3 was in 2002 when it finished 2-10 for the season.
David Fales completed 29 of 34 passes for 280 yards for San Jose State as Ryan Otten (94 yards) and Kyle Mann (62 yards) each had eight catches. Still, the Spartans needed to turn to their defense to shut down Navy’s triple option offense.
“Our defense stepped up. We just have to execute on the third-and-shorts,” said Fales, referring to the Spartans making just 9 of 16 third-down conversions. “They (Navy) would go up an extra notch on that third-and-short. They take away things downfield, so you have to check down. And if you can’t check down, you need to find some other way.”
The Midshipmen gained just 144 yards, their fewest since Nov. 16, 2002, when they gained only 82. Trey Miller led Navy with 28 yards on 14 carries and completed 4 of 9 passes for 41 yards before he was replaced by freshman Keenan Reynolds in the fourth quarter.
“I think we were a little discombobulated out there. They just outplayed us,” said Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo.
Navy’s historically high-scoring offense has now scored just 58 points in four games, 41 coming in a rout of VMI last week.
“We had some opportunities. We have to find a way to score,” said Niumatalolo. “I am disappointed we played like that, but there is not much more to do other than to go back to work.”
On that possession, Navy drove 66 yards after the kickoff but turned the ball over on a fumble by Miller at the 9, which was caused by Travis Johnson. Ranked fourth in the nation in sacks coming into the game, San Jose State had four sacks. David Ogburn Jr. also had a second-half interception for the Spartans.
Johnson also had three tackles for losses, extending to 11 games his streak for registering a tackle for a loss in a game.
“Our big focus was to stay disciplined and play like we play,” said Johnson. “Our offense had its ups and downs, so this was a game where we had to shut them down.”
San Jose State led 3-0 at the break after Lopez’s 29-yard field goal with 10:48 left in in the half. The kick followed an 11-play, 68-yard drive by the Spartans following the fumble recovery.
Lopez also kicked a 19-yard field goal following a 73-yard Spartans drive that lasted 7 minutes, 8 seconds to start the second half. He kicked his last two field goals in the fourth quarter to cap drives of 58 and 19 yards.