Led by standout QB David Fales, the No. 24 San Jose State Spartans emerged victorious over the Bowling Green Falcons, 29-20, in Thursday's Military Bowl in Washington D.C.
Fales led an explosive, four-play scoring drive on the Spartans' second possession to put San Jose State on top early, capped by a 33-yard strike to Kyle Nunn. Rotoworld's Josh Norris was impressed with the junior signal-caller, who is considered a viable NFL prospect should he forgo his senior year and enter the 2013 draft:
Dude, Fales. Three beautiful passes in a row. Quick TD by the Spartans.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) December 27, 2012
B/R NFL draft expert Matt Miller gave Fales a ringing endorsement to say the least. Perhaps Fales should stay in school another year:
So impressed by Fales in this game. Will be going back and reviewing more, but I'd say right now he's top 2 QB for 2014.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 27, 2012
It was a rainy, cold day in RFK Stadium, and a low-scoring, scrappy first half defined the rest of the early action. Patrick Stevens of The Washington Times pointed out a telling statistic that made this one a bit of a yawner:
Halftime at the Military Bowl: San Jose State 10, Bowling Green 6. Teams have combined for 11 yards on 21 rushing attempts.— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) December 27, 2012
Steven Goff of The Washington Examiner poked fun at a photo posted by Stevens, showing the rather lackluster attendance, digging into Major League Soccer in the process:
The most bizarre and eventful occurrence in the first 30 minutes occurred in the first quarter when Spartans punter Harrison Waid felt he should have drawn a flag after being tagged by a Falcons player. To say Waid was displeased doesn't quite do this highly physical expression of disapproval justice.
This actually resulted in an injury for Waid, unfortunately.
The relevant, playmaking action kicked up several notches in the third quarter. The Falcons looked to be in command after forcing a Fales fumble deep in Spartans territory and grabbing a 13-10 lead, courtesy of an Anthon Samuel eight-yard TD run.
The Spartans had other plans. An ill-fated Bowling Green punt was nearly recovered in the end zone, but rolled just out of the back for a safety. That cut the Falcons' lead to 13-12.
Holly Anderson of Sports Illustrated had what had to be the tweet of the game following that special-teams breakdown:
"No punt in this game is a gimme. It's an adventure." We don't even need to make jokes. Actual Military Bowl quotes are doing our job.— Holly (@Nastinchka) December 27, 2012
On the ensuing drive, San Jose State finally had a drive go for more than five plays for the first time all afternoon, culminating in a 17-yard TD pass from Fales to Chandler Jones on 3rd-and-3. But the Falcons responded in the fourth with a 34-yard scamper by John Pettigrew to set up his TD plunge to make it 20-19 after the extra point.
That's when Fales took over again, responding with the deciding drive without any help from the backfield. Bowling Green never answered. WAC Defensive Player of the Year Travis Johnson forced a fumble by Falcons QB Matt Schilz with just over four minutes left.
Fales converted another third down that got his team down inside the 5-yard line. Replay showed that Ina Liaina may have fumbled, but there wasn't indisputable video evidence to overturn the call on the field.
From there, De'Leon Eskridge punched it in from one yard out to put the game out of reach.
This marks the first-ever 11-win season for the Spartans' program, and Fales is largely to thank, as he finished 33-of-43 for a bowl-record 395 yards passing and two touchdowns. San Jose State ran for negative yards, making Fales' performance all the more impressive.