San Jose State Spartan Football: Heart Kids Win Against Colorado State
Last week, Spartan head coach Brent Brennan said the game against Colorado State (2-7, 2-3 MW) would be a four-quarter affair.
“I think people in general on the outside think, ‘Oh I want to beat everybody 100 to nothing’ but that’s just not football and that’s not real,” Brennan said. about people’s fixation on point spreads.
Although the Spartans (6-2, 4-1 MW) secured a 28-16 victory, it was by no means easy. In fact, looking at the numbers, it was downright bizarre.
“The fact that we’ve had games like these where we have to find a way where it doesn’t look good,” Brennan said. “And we had to band together with our players and our staff to stick together and keep believing – those are big lessons for them as men, let alone as football players.”
Saturday’s game was entertaining, similar to the behind-the-scenes win over Nevada, but against Colorado State’s air raid offense it presented some unique issues.
The Rams totaled 469 yards of offense (334 passing and 135 rushing yards). Ram receiver Tory Horton’s nine receptions, 196 receiving yards and a TD grab were something to behold.
“As a coach you have to tip your hat sometimes,” Brennan said of Horton and the Rams’ overall performance. “Give credit to their guys and staff. They put them in positions to make plays and they made plays.
Ram is also playing hard – where the ever-solid Spartan defense has nine sacks (17 in two weeks), 14 tackles for losses and an intensity that has contributed to Ram’s 13 penalties for 101 yards. Still, long completed passes from rookie Ram QB Clay Millen and timely runs from Ram fullback Avery Morrow kept Colorado alive and powerful throughout the game.
And after all that trying to avoid a sluggish offensive start like last week, San Jose State still couldn’t get off to a quick start against Colorado State.
With a continued lack of an early and consistent running game, Spartan QB Chevan Cordiero struggled with the Ram defense able to improve coverage on Spartan receivers to slow them down in the first half.
“Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned,” Cordiero said. “No matter what happens, we just have to keep playing our game and be patient and have the mindset that we’re going to score every record.”
A first half of 99 yards of total attack for the Spartans?
Where the Spartans couldn’t go fast, Colorado State did.
After 1:17 of play, Morrow’s 56-yard dash immediately calmed the 16,382 CEFCU crowd to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.
The Spartans’ slow road to the end zone came on their fourth offensive drive in the second quarter – the longest two-yard touchdown pass you can throw with Cordiero rolling right, looking right but throwing sideways opposite of the end zone to squeeze-finish Dominick Mazotti to level the score at 7-7.
“Working at home with my dad and training hard in the offseason and you see it in games,” Cordiero said of his incredible ability to make hard shots easy. “But I still have a lot to do to improve.”
Unfortunately, the struggling so-called Rams still responded on the next possession with a field goal on an 11-play drive punctuated by three long completions to pull Colorado State out of the deep holes.
Even with the Spartan defense clogging the lanes and constantly pressuring Millen, Colorado’s success atop and on the court gave them confidence but uncertainty for San Jose State.
A second half steeped in Cordiero
On the signal to start the second half, Cordiero had five consecutive assists in a 9-play, 75-yard drive ending with a 5-yard TD by Kairee Robinson – Spartans 14-10.
On the signal to start the fourth quarter, Cordiero’s two-play 54-yard drive found his favorite target Elijah Cook on his sixth catch, a 35-yard drive into the end zone – Spartans 21-10.
Cordiero’s two touchdown throws (1 INT) and 274 passing yards on 27-42 attempts show his brilliance and persistence since moving to San Jose.
On defence: Keeping the Rams at bay with the infamous no-break rule was highlighted by an end zone save interception by Nehemiah Shelton, a four-and-three sack line by LB Alii Matau .
“It’s more of a game feeling,” Matau said. “During our film sessions this week we knew they had struggled with the stunts, especially against a 3-4 defense where we send two and you don’t know where that’s coming from and that’s in part of the reason why I had a good game.”
After Millen suffered a concussion when he ran into his own lineman late in the fourth, Ram QB Jackson Stratton came on cold and overcame the fourth and 20 with a shocking 40-yard touchdown pass to Horton – 21-16 Spartans.
Cordiero then quickly led the Spartans on a six-play, 86-yard drive, finding Robinson’s one-yard punch in the end zone – 28-16 Spartans.
And just like last week, the Spartan defense kept up one last momentum from Ram with an interception – this time by LB Rahyme Johnson.
With the Spartans now bowl eligible, the Spartans head to San Diego State, where another unique set of circumstances to be determined during the week and during the game continues the 2022 run of SJS.