San Jose State Rallies For 35-28 Win Over Nevada

San Jose State Rallies For 35-28 Win



Spartans finish off emotional week with comeback win



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A win is a win.  At the end of a long, emotional week for the San Jose State football program, the Spartans rallied for a 35-28 victory over Nevada on homecoming night at CEFCU Stadium.  Two 4th quarter Kairee Robinson touchdown runs were enough to get the job done against a Wolfpack team that has now lost seven straight games, and fell to 0-5 in the Mountain West Conference.  SJSU improves to 5-2 overall, 3-1 in conference play.

The game, and the night, were dedicated to Camdan McWright, the freshman running back who was tragically killed last Friday in a traffic accident.  Coaches wore a t-shirt with McWright’s picture on it during the game, and players wore stickers on their helmets.  Before the game, the Spartans lined up at midfield in the formation of McWright’s #6.  In what was the coolest tribute of all, the McWright family requested, and received a moment of loudness, in lieu of the traditional moment of silence.  The 17,000 on hand gave a long, thunderous ovation.  Unfortunately, for much of the first three quarters, it was Nevada and their fans doing a majority of the cheering.     

Style points are rarely high on a coaches priority list, and with all that his players have endured over the last 10 days, Head Coach Brent Brennan will surely take the 7 point win and move on to the next opponent.  That being said, it was not a great effort by the Spartans, especially in the trenches, and some things need to be cleaned up moving forward for this team to achieve some of the goals they have set.     

San Jose State came out aggressive on the first drive of the game, taking several shots downfield, most of them to Justin Lockhart, eventually moving into Wolfpack territory.  Here, Brennan bypassed a long field goal, and the Spartans failed to convert on fourth down.  The next drive would prove to be a harbinger of the first half.  One sack of Chevan Cordeiro stalled the offense’s progress, and a second ended in a strip-sack fumble, just the second turnover of the year for the Spartans, setting up the Wolfpack deep in SJSU territory.  

Toa Taua scored the first of his 3 TD’s on the night on a 4th down run to give Nevada a 7-0 lead.  The Spartans answered on a Cordeiro touchdown toss to Dominick Mazotti to knot the game at 7 apiece.  That was the lone bright spot of the half for the San Jose State offense though, as their other 6 drives netted a combined 81 yards.  The offensive line got pushed around, resulting in a non-existent running game, and Cordeiro was sacked a remarkable 5 times.  

The defense can not take blame for the first Wolfpack TD, as it came directly after the turnover and on a short field.  The second scoring drive however, was a combination of surprising and frustrating for Spartans supporters.  A Nevada offense ranked near the bottom in most categories in the entire country, went 80 yards in 10 plays, culminated by a Taua TD run on a 3rd and 15 draw–a brilliant play call by Nevada Coach Ken Wilson, but not one that a top flight defensive unit should ever be allowing.  It gave the Wolfpack a 14-7 lead, a score that would hold through the end of the half.

Things went from bad to worse early in the 3rd quarter as Shane Illingworth, who was making his first start in five games after being benched, found BJ Casteel on a 53 yard bomb down the middle to extend the Wolfpack lead to 21-7.  It was the biggest play surrendered all year by the Spartans D and put them in a two touchdown hole, their largest deficit of the season.  Luckily, for the second time in the game, SJSU immediately answered a Nevada TD with one of their own, this one a 2 yard scamper by Cordeiro, to make it 21-14.  The teams would trade off touchdowns, giving the Wolfpack a 28-21 early in the fourth quarter, and the Spartans taking possession with their season on the brink.  

What ensued was their third TD drive of 75 yards or more, aided by some sharp throws from Cordeiro and finished off by Robinson’s first touchdown.  The defense stepped up when needed most, forcing a 3-and-out, and a shanked punt set the Spartans up in Wolfpack territory with 4 minutes left.  As veteran leaders tend to do, Cordeiro effectively led one more drive down the field, while milking the clock, leaving just 70 seconds left, after Robinson’s second TD of the quarter gave SJSU their first lead.  Cordeiro did his part on the night, throwing for 340 yards and accounting for three touchdowns.

An Alii Matau interception sealed it for San Jose State and the celebration on the sidelines could begin, filled as much with relief as with joy.  Give Nevada credit for playing much better than their 2-6 record, but this was not a game many thought would go down to the wire.  In hindsight, which is always 20-20, it may have been a lot to expect these young men to deal with all they have had to undergo recently, and then perform at their peak.  Still, while the win was well-earned, there is work to be done, as stiffer tests are on the horizon.  

All that aside, the San Jose State football family and their fans end a difficult week on a positive note, and can now attempt to move forward and continue honoring the memory of Camdan McWright both on and off the field.   


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Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire