Recapping the Bulldogs’ 49-23 loss at San Jose State
Players of the game
San Jose State RB Tyler Ervin: The game’s workhorse amassed 300 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries, averaging 7.1 per run.
San Jose State QB Joe Gray: Completed 20 of 23 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns.
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Fresno State WR KeeSean Johnson: Redshirt freshman caught his first career touchdown pass and finished with seven receptions for 90 yards.
Play of the game
Third quarter, second-and-8 San Jose State at Bulldogs 49: Fresno State had just scored back-to-back touchdowns and reduced its deficit to five. San Jose State responded with its longest play of the night, as Joe Gray connected with Tim Crawley for a 49-yard touchdown pass. The Spartans’ lead grew to 35-23, part of a 21-0 run to end the game.
Numbers of the game
296: Advantage in total yards for the Spartans, who gained 543 to 247 for Fresno State.
0.3: Average yards on 12 first-quarter plays for the Bulldogs.
5: Possessions before Fresno State generated 10 yards of offense.
11.0: Yards per pass play for San Jose State.
6: Sacks for the Bulldogs, most since six against Hawaii last season.
1: Rushing TD in four games for the Bulldogs.
3: Rushing touchdowns for Tyler Ervin in the game, nine this season.
86.9: Completion percentage for San Jose State quarterback Joe Gray (20 of 23).
300: Rushing yards for Ervin, a school record.
0: Tackles for loss by the Bulldogs when Ervin touched the ball.
7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at San Diego State: The Aztecs dropped their third straight game Saturday, though this one was to Penn State 37-21.Running back Donnell Pumphrey ran 18 times for 56 yards and a touchdown. The Aztecs managed only 242 yards of offense against the Nittany Lions. Rashaad Penny scored on a 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter for San Diego State (1-3), who had its only lead of the game in the second quarter (14-13).
Third-down trouble – And the Bulldogs thought they had problems getting off the field on third downs last week when No. 21 Utah converted 13 of 19 (68.4%) into first downs …
San Jose State converted five of its first six in jumping out to a 21-10 lead at halftime and 7 of 10 in the game and the thing about that is the average distance for a first down in the first half was 7.5 yards.
The Spartans converted a third-and-7 with a 24-yard pass from Joe Gray to Tyler Ervin, a thrid-and-5 on a 6-yard pass to Ervin, scored a touchdown in converting a third-and-10 on a 20-yard pass from Gray to Hansell Wilson and a third-and-7 on a 12-yard pass to Ervin.
The other conversion in the half came on a third-and-1, and on a third-and-15 that the Spartans didn’t convert they still gained 11 yards on a pass from Gray to Justin Holmes.
“I’ll have to look at the tape,” coach Tim DeRuyter said. “I know we had a couple of times where we had guys at the point of attack and No. 7 (Ervin) made our guys miss. We’d get out-leveraged. We have to do a much better job. They throw a ball behind the sticks and we have a guy in position to make a play and he gets to the sticks. Give them credit, but we have to tackle better and we have to teach it better.”
Gray completed 6 of 7 third-down passes in the game (85.7%). He went in hitting 64.6% of his throws this season, but only 7 of 13 (53.8%) on third down plays.
The Spartans also had converted only 38.5% of their third-down plays (15 of 39), ranking fifth in the Mountain West and 76th in the nation.
“I think a lot of those drives, we had guys behind the sticks and the offense did a good job of getting the ball in their playmakers hands, like No. 7, and last week they got the ball to (Devontae) Booker and some of their other playmakers,” outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine said.
“Those guys are good and we just have to be better. We have to fundamentally make a tackle – move your feet and your body and your hips into making a tackle. Sometimes, the first guy is getting an arm tackles and he’s getting to the sticks. I think that’s the way we have to attack that.”
Greenlee back Monday – The Bulldogs didn’t announce it before kickoff, but quarterback Zack Greenlee was suspended for the game following an arrest on suspicion of public drunkenness and drinking in public.
Ford Childress started and Kilton Anderson got a few plays – Childress completed 19 of 32 passes for 159 yards with two touchdowns and one interception and Anderson was 0 of 1.
On Monday, Greenlee is expected back.
“We’ll get together with the offense staff (Sunday),” DeRuyter said. “Zack and Brandon (Hughes) both served their punishments and so he’ll be back with us. But we’ll talk as a staff.”
Ervin’s eyes – The Spartans’ Tyler Ervin rushed for a school-record 300 yards, passing his previous high mark in the third quarter. He had 146 in a loss to Colorado State in last season.
“I just saw it in his eyes,” San Jose State coach Ron Caragher said. “He has played darn good football coming in, and I think he wanted this. Our team wanted this one, and it goes back to this week and last weekend. Being able to recover from last week, put together a good game plan and come out with a great team win was big.”
The last back to rush for 200 or more yards against the Bulldogs was Brian Hill, who shredded his way for 281 yards for Wyoming in a 45-17 victory on Nov. 1, 2014.
First score rushing on a breakdown – It took four games, but Fresno State scored its first rushing touchdown on a 5-yard run by Jamire Jordan on a trick play that appeared to be going nowhere until he spun out of a tackle.
The play was designed as a reverse, with the ball going from Childress to running back Marteze Waller, who under pressure pitched it back to Jordan. The redshirt freshman receiver was stopped by a San Jose State defender as he received the ball, reversed his field and found the end zone.
“The play just kind of broke down and I was just trying to not get tackled in the backfield,” Jordan said. “I tried to do whatever I had to do. I didn’t see half the guys that tried to actually hit me, so it was just kind of like an on-the-run thing.”
The Bulldogs did not have a rushing touchdown in their first three games, their longest streak going back through 2008. They had a streak of 21 consecutive regular season games with at least one rushing touchdown coming into this season.
Et cetera – The 64-yard kickoff return by Da’Mari Scott to open the game was the longest for the Bulldogs since 2008 when A.J. Jefferson took one back 92 yards for a touchdown against Nevada. Scott banged up a shoulder on the next series, however, and did not return to the game.
▪ Ejiro Ederaine had two sacks in the first quarter, his fourth career game with two or more sacks and the first since 2013 when he had two against Boise State, Hawaii and San Diego State.
▪ Outside linebacker Justin Green, defensive end Claudell Louis, nose guard Nate Madsen and free safety Shannon Edwards also had sacks for the Bulldogs. Louis has had one sack in three of the first four games.
▪ Bo Bonnheim, who had started the first three games at right guard, moved back to center on the Bulldogs’ third series of the game in place of Jacob Vazquez and got some run there. The move had been in play during the week – the 286-pound senior had taken reps there in practice. Micah St. Andrew went in at right guard when Bonnheim moved to center.
▪ The Bulldogs traveled with the Mountain West Conference limit of 68 players, but redshirt freshman tight end Kyle Riddering and Hughes did not dress. Riddering was sick before the game.
▪ Caragher: “Physical would be the adjective I’d use to describe our play.” The 26-point margin of victory was the largest for the Spartans in this series since a 42-7 victory in 1990.
▪ Ervin racked up 345 all-purpose yards, just 10 away from the school record set by Charles Pauley in a victory over Nevada in 2001.
▪ Asked how the Bulldogs get this turned around, Ederaine started with a cliché before reversing field. “Lock arms,” he said, before starting again. “To be honest, the way we fix this is we watch the film, we see all of the mistakes that we did to ourselves. That was a great football team, but we let them have a lot of scores in the first half, and we fix it. We play fundamentally sound defense. That’s the only way to fix it. Playmakers have to make plays.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
SAN JOSE STATE 49, FRESNO STATE 23
San Jose State
SJS—Ervin 2 run (Lopez kick), 8:21.
SJS—Ervin 2 run (Lopez kick), :21.
Fre—Jordan 7 pass from Childress (Kroening kick), 8:42.
SJS—Wilson 20 pass from Gray (Lopez kick), 3:52.
Fre—FG Kroening 39, 1:03.
SJS—Ervin 30 run (Lopez kick), 11:18.
Fre—K.Johnson 29 pass from Childress (Kroening kick), 8:36.
Fre—Jordan 5 run (kick failed), 5:04.
SJS—Crawley 49 pass from Gray (Lopez kick), 1:25.
SJS—Freeman 9 pass from Gray (Lopez kick), 9:56.
SJS—Pruitt 27 interception return (Lopez kick), 5:03.
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Fresno St., Waller 19-72, Anderson 2-20, Jordan 3-7, Micenheimer 2-5, Scott 1-3, Childress 2-(minus 19). San Jose St., Ervin 42-300, Tucker 5-22, Lawson 1-3, Smith 1-3, Team 1-(minus 14), Gray 8-(minus 23).
PASSING—Fresno St., Childress 19-32-1-159, Anderson 0-1-0-0. San Jose St., Gray 20-23-0-252.
RECEIVING—Fresno St., K.Johnson 7-90, Jordan 5-45, Waller 4-7, Blandin 2-15, Micenheimer 1-2. San Jose St., Winston 5-49, Freeman 5-43, Ervin 4-45, Wilson 2-18, Crawley 1-49, Oliver 1-24, Lawson 1-13, Holmes 1-11.