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Fales slings San Jose State past Bowling Green

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- The San Jose State offense struggled throughout the first half of Thursday's Military Bowl. Playing on a cold, windy afternoon against a tough Bowling Green defense, the Spartans couldn't find a groove in the first half.

But quarterback David Fales helped change that in the second half.

Fales completed 33 of 43 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns overall, and No. 24 San Jose State scored the game's final 10 points, rallying for a 29-20 victory over Bowling Green at RFK Stadium.

The Spartans (11-2), who finished the season with seven straight wins, relied heavily on Fales and the passing attack, getting minus-15 yards rushing and the 395 passing. Fales entered the game as the nation's most accurate passer and didn't miss a beat even though the temperature stayed in the 40s with a 22-mph wind throughout.

"That's an awfully good defense we played against today, and they proved that," San Jose interim coach Kent Baer said. "But we can throw it against anybody. David, he's the most passing efficient QB in the country. He's unbelievable. He's the best I've been around, and he's got a heck of a future."

Fales spread the ball all over the place. Noel Grigsby (nine catches, 134 yards), Jabari Carr (7-50), Chandler Jones (6-73) led the way as eight San Jose players had receptions in the win.

"I can go to anybody and know they're going to win," Fales said. "It's crazy having all these guys out there who can make these crazy plays."

Jones scored a second-half touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Fales, but the receiver needed to make a slick move inside the 10 to get past a Bowling Green defender.

Kyle Nunn's only catch was a 33-yard touchdown where he made a nice cut turning towards the sideline to lose a Falcon defender.

Despite holding an edge in total yardage -- 380-264 -- San Jose still needed a rally and score the game's last 10 points in the final 4 minutes, 43 seconds to pull out the win and seal a memorable season.

San Jose State won one game two years ago and five last year, and the Spartans won 11 this season despite losing head coach Mike MacIntyre, who left to go to Colorado before this game.

"Being able to get this last win, I call it the cherry on top, that finisher to make it the most memorable incredible season that we're going to have," said San Jose defensive end Travis Johnson. "It just kind of showed everyone what we were made of as Spartans."

Austin Lopez kicked a 27-yard field goal with 4:43 left to give San Jose the lead for good at 22-20. Johnson then sacked Bowling Green quarterback Matt Schilz two plays later and forced a fumble.

Keith Smith recovered for San Jose at the Falcon 24 with 4:22 left. De'Leon Eskridge scored on a 1-yard touchdown five plays later to seal the victory.

San Jose had taken a 7-0 lead on its second possession of the game when Fales threw his scoring pass to Nunn. Bowling Green marched back downfield on its next possession, and Tyler Tate kicked a 28-yard field goal.

The Falcons got another scoring chance moments later when Gabe Martin blocked a Lopez punt, giving Bowling Green (8-5) the ball at the San Jose 24. But the Spartans defense held and forced Tate's second field goal, this time from 33 yards on the first play of the second quarter, to make it 7-6.

Fales and the Spartans struggled on offense for much of the second quarter before getting a 54-yard drive late in the period. That set up Lopez's 36-yard field goal with 1:40 left which gave San Jose State a 10-6 halftime lead.

Bowling Green took the lead for the first time early in the third quarter thanks to San Jose's first turnover.

Charlie Walker sacked Fales from the blind side and forced a fumble. Chris Jones recovered at the 28 and returned it 20 yards to the San Jose 8-yard line. Anthon Samuel ran for an 8-yard touchdown on the next play to give Bowling Green a 13-10 lead with 12:05 left in the third quarter.

The special teams gave the Spartans a spark when Bene Benwikere blocked Brian Schmiedebusch's punt around the 10-yard line, and the ball rolled out of the end zone for a safety to make it 13-12.

The Spartans then got good field position after the ensuing free kick, and Fales threw his 18-yard touchdown pass to Jones for a 19-13 lead with 2:16 left in the quarter.

Bowling Green then took the lead when John Pettigrew ran for a 1-yard touchdown and Stephen Stein added the extra point for a 20-19 lead with 10:26 left. In the end, however, the Falcons stalled too often on offense.

"We didn't play well enough on offense," Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said. "We've struggled all year on offense. (San Jose) is good. They did a nice job. They made a few more plays."

NOTES: Nunn's touchdown catch was his second of the season, and he'd caught three passes in San Jose's last six games. ... San Jose didn't convert a third down until the second half -- and that came on Fales' touchdown pass to Jones. ... Stein came in to kick for Bowling Green in the second half after Tate made two first-half field goals. ... Samuel's touchdown was his 11th rushing score this season.
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