San Jose State loses its homecoming game against San Diego State, 27-17

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By Ana Kieu

San Jose State was looking to stun San Diego State in their Homecoming game Saturday night. But the Spartans’ wish wasn’t granted as the Aztecs spoiled one of the liveliest games of the year at CEFCU Stadium.

Ultimately, a strong first half and a late comeback attempt against one of the nation’s top defenses wasn’t enough as San Diego State battled past San Jose State for a 27-17 win. The Aztecs improve to 6-1, while the Spartans fall to 3-4.

San Jose State quarterback Josh Love threw for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but San Diego State dueled their way to a win.

“We just made a few too many mistakes to beat a team as good as them,” said Spartans head coach Brent Brennan after the game. “It was a little frustrating because I felt like there were moments where we had a chance to make it fun.”

San Jose State found themselves in an early deficit after the game’s opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown. However, the Spartans would promptly answer right back, going on a four play, 66-yard scoring drive to tie the score at 7-7 at 13:11 of the first quarter.

The quick-hitting scoring possession was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Love to Spartan freshman running back Kairee Robinson. The play marked the first career reception and touchdown for Robinson.

Ranked #4 nationally in rushing defense heading into the afternoon, San Diego State was able to limit the Spartan ground attack for the majority of the night. San Jose State finished with 54 total yards on the ground and was led by a 59-yard performance for Robinson.

“I thought Kairee did a really nice job tonight,” Brennan said when asked about Robinson. “It was exciting to see him get in there. He’s a freshman and it’s always fun to see a freshman go in there and run the football against a good group like he did.”

San Jose State wideout Bailey Gaither also impressed and found the end zone on a late 8-yard touchdown reception. Gaither would end the day leading all players with four receptions for 75 yards.

After getting even at 7-7, San Diego State tallied 20 of the game’s next 23 points to take a 27-10 lead. The only interruption to the run came on a third quarter field goal off the foot of the Spartan kicker Matt Mercurio, a 25-yarder that was the freshman’s ninth of the season.

The scoring drive went an impressive 68 yards, spanning 14 plays that featured four Love completions and four Robinson carries.

The Aztecs tallied a pair of touchdown runs — one short (1 yard), one long (50 yards) — on their next two possessions but the hosts refused to go quietly into the night.

Starting from its own 1-yard line with just over nine minutes remaining, San Jose State marched 99 yards down the field to keep itself in the game. Highlighted by a huge 52-yard reception for Gaither, he would then snag a touchdown pass from Love three plays later to cut the deficit to 27-17.

The 99-yard touchdown drive marked the Spartans’ longest of the season.

A spirited Spartan defense got the ball back for its offense on the ensuing possession, pushing San Diego State back for negative three yards on five plays. The comeback attempt would soon be extinguished, however, as the Aztecs forced their first turnover of the night following yet another punt that pinned San Jose State on its own 1-yard line.

San Jose State ended the night with a 218-88 advantage in passing yards and were only flagged once to San Diego State’s 12 penalties. The Aztecs entered Saturday ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense (13.2 points per game) and the Spartans converted on all three of its trips inside the red zone before the night was over.

NOTES: For the first time this season, San Jose State is 1 game under .500 after the loss to San Diego State … The 348 yards San Jose State allowed in the San Diego State game was the second fewest allowed in a game this season … San Jose State allowed 287 yards in the season-opening Northern Colorado victory … San Jose State’s 99-yard touchdown scoring drive in the fourth quarter was its longest of the season and its second 90-plus yard touchdown drive in 2019 … The Spartans had a 93-yard, 7-play drive in the New Mexico win on October 4 … San Jose State’s two quarterback sacks are the most in a game since the four sacks in the Northern Colorado season opener … Kairee Robinson became the fourth different starting running back this season for San Jose State when he was on the field for the first Spartan offensive play of the San Diego State game. Robinson scored his first major college touchdown on a 15-yard reception. He led the Spartans in rushing with 59 yards on 14 carries, the most rushing yards in a game by a Spartan running back this season … The 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game by San Diego State’s Kaegun Williams was the first kickoff return for a touchdown against San Jose State since Stanford’s Chad Owusu returned a kickoff 94 yards against the Spartans in 2009 … Matt Mercurio’s 25-yard third-quarter field goal was his sixth straight conversion since he missed a 41-yard try against New Mexico … Spartan linebacker Tysyn Parker shared game-high honors for tackles with 10 stops. It was the second time in his career he was credited with 10-plus tackles in a game. Both double figure tackle games were against San Diego State. As a freshman in 2016, he was in on 16 tackles … For the second straight game, San Jose State was 3-for-3 in red zone scoring opportunities … The San Diego State game marked the second time this season the Spartans didn’t come up with a fumble recovery or interception.

UP NEXT: The Spartans look ahead to their non-conference finale, where they’ll travel to New York to face the Army Black Knights on Saturday, October 26 at 9:00 a.m. PT at Michie Stadium.

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