Today marks the last home game for 12 San Jose State football seniors
Head coach Brent Brennan finishes up his first season at San Jose State
San Jose State faces piles of work in the offseason
SAN JOSE, Calif. — After losing 10 straight games, the Spartans were hoping for something, anything in Saturday’s game against the Wyoming Cowboys at CEFCU Stadium.
The Spartans last won a game in Week 2. They blew out the Cal Poly Mustangs 34-13 on September 2, 2017. As it turned out, though, their first win of the season was just a fluke. Moreover, they haven’t won a conference game yet.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are a pretty good team who entered CEFCU Stadium with a 4-1 record in games played in San Jose. They won seven of their last 11 games.
It was game time in San Jose. The Cowboys won the toss and elected to defer, so the Spartans received the ball. SJSU turned the ball over with a fumble, which was recovered by Wyoming. A pass from Nick Smith was intercepted by Dakari Monroe, and just like that, SJSU got the ball back.
The Spartans opened the scoring on Montel Aaron’s first rushing touchdown of the season, a five-yarder on a scoring drive of three plays, 22 yards and 1:10 used. Bryce Crawford’s PAT kick was good. SJSU took a 7-0 lead with 7:45 left in the first quarter.
“Yeah, it was a busted play,” Aaron said. “We didn’t run a whole bunch of picks this year. We tried to throw it in…We didn’t clash. We just carried out the play and it worked out for us.”
Aaron threw a pass intended for Tyler Nevens, but it was intercepted by Marcus Epps at the Wyoming 31. Epps returned it for 57 yards to the SJSU 42.
It was early, but the Spartans led the Cowboys 7-0 after the first quarter.
Crawford kicked in his first field goal attempt, a 44-yarder, for the month of November to extend the Spartans’ lead to 10-0 at the 10:39 mark of the second quarter. Crawford went without a successful field goal attempt for the last three games.
Drama began in the middle of the second quarter. Michael Carrizosa punted 44 yards to the Wyoming 22. Austin Conway returned it for 55 yards to the SJSU 23. The Cowboys’ drive was set to start at 6:32, but the Spartans delayed the drive by calling for their first timeout of the game. Kellen Overstreet rushed up the middle to the SJSU 15, then rushed for eight more yards to the SJSU 7, giving Wyoming a first down, but no gain.
Nick Smith threw a pass to Josh Harshman for six yards to the SJSU 1. The Spartans called their second timeout of the game, but Smith rushed up the middle for one yard to the SJSU 0 for a rushing touchdown. Wyoming cut SJSU’s lead to 10-7 with 4:28 left in the second quarter.
Crawford notched his second field goal of the game, a 52-yarder, to expand the Spartans’ lead to 13-7 with just 47 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The Spartans forced another interception when Dakari Monroe intercepted a pass by Smith at the SJSU 8 and returned it for six yards to the SJSU 14 (Nico Evans).
When asked about his friendship with fellow teammate Andre Chachere, Monroe said, “Andre (Chachere) was very helpful in the process. As soon as I came here (SJSU) as a freshman, we kind of just bonded and we became good friends ever since and I’m just going to remember the energy and him being a really funny guy.”
The Spartans took a knee and carried a 13-7 lead over the Cowboys to the locker room at halftime.
The Spartans began the second half with Carrizosa’s 65-yard kickoff to the Wyoming 0 for a touchback. The Cowboys’ drive started at their own 0. Smith completed a pass to James Price for 10 yards to the Wyoming 35. Wyoming got a first down, but it was out of bounds (Monroe).
The Cowboys pulled within three (13-10) on a 28-yard field goal by Cooper Rothe at the 10:24 mark of the third quarter.
The Spartans and their defense held a 13-10 lead over the Cowboys at the end of the third quarter.
The “defense” chants from the fans in attendance amplified in the fourth quarter. Yet, there were some negatives in the game that weren’t pushed to the side. Smith threw a pass to Jaylon Watson, who dropped the pass and subsequently suffered an undisclosed injury. The play was under review and the officials handed a personal foul to Chachere for targeting. Chachere ejected from the game.
The Spartans added to their lead as DeJon Packer scored a 44-yard rushing touchdown. Crawford’s PAT kick was good. SJSU increased their lead to 20-10 with 2:09 left in the fourth quarter.
“I had a simple thought process,” Packer said when asked about the emotions he experienced during his moment. “Take care of the ball, just make sure that we have a ball at the end of the play. That was our No. 1 priority.”
The Cowboys, however, weren’t ready to bow down to their opponent yet. Smith threw a pass to C.J. Johnson, who scored a 53-yard passing touchdown. Wyoming cut the Spartans’ lead to 20-17 with 1:07 left in the fourth quarter.
The Spartans hung on for a 20-17 win over the Cowboys at home. SJSU finished the season with a 2-11 record (1-7 Mountain West) while Wyoming completed the season with a 7-5 record (5-3 Mountain West).
“What a way to end it,” head coach Brent Brennan said. “Just an incredible effort from everybody. I thought our defense was lights out. I thought we overcame some special teams mistakes. We overcame some turnovers on both sides…I thought the team was really locked in and committed to fighting for the senior class…and I thought the seniors played really well.”
SJSU recognized 12 of its football seniors before kickoff. Nine of the 12 seniors played all four of their seasons with the Spartans. Wide receivers Brandon Mitchell and David Martinez were members of the 2017 team. Cornerback Jermaine Kelly transferred to SJSU from the University of Washington in 2015. Others seniors include: offensive linemen Jeremiah Kolone, Nate Velichko, Keoni Taylor, and Chris Gonzalez; defensive backs Andre Chachere and Maurice McKnight; defensive lineman Nico Aimonetti; linebacker William Ossai; and punter Michael Carrizosa.