move to 4-0 in WAC
FRESNO -- From Damion Owens' game-opening interception to Ryan Mathews' game-clinching touchdown sprint, Fresno State shoved San Jose State back into its usual place in the WAC pecking order.
Mathews rushed 58 yards for the second of his two TD scores in a 144-yard performance, and the surging Bulldogs remained perfect in conference play with a 30-0 victory over their instate rivals Saturday.
Former Turlock High standout Tom Brandstater passed for 132 yards and Clint Stitser kicked three field goals for Fresno State (5-2, 4-0 Western Athletic Conference), which has rebounded nicely from last season's 4-8 record, the school's worst in almost 30 years. The Bulldogs also lost their longtime edge on the Spartans, who snapped a 12-game losing streak against Fresno State last season.
"All I've heard about for a year is how we fell behind San Jose, so I thought it was good that we came out here and did what we had to do," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "For a whole year, I heard about how San Jose State had gone by us. I thought our players rose to the occasion."
After shutting out their WAC rivals for the first time since 1942, the Bulldogs have four straight wins and a growing swell of confidence in their young offense. Road losses to Oregon and Texas A&M are their only blemishes heading into Friday night's home showdown with Boise State.
With a defense that repeatedly made fourth-down stops, Fresno State avenged last season's 24-14 loss to San Jose State -- the Spartans' first win in the rivalry since 1990, propelling them into a New Mexico Bowl victory.
But with San Jose State's kickers unable to make a field goal, the Spartans couldn't keep it close early -- and Fresno State's three TDs in a 10-minute stretch of the third quarter ended it.
"Fresno State is back to being one of the best teams in the league," Spartans coach Dick Tomey said. "That was a sound whipping. Fresno's got a good football team. That was a very disappointing performance by all of us."
Adam Tafralis passed for 254 yards and rushed for 97 more for the Spartans (3-5, 2-2), who had won three straight before last week's overtime loss to Hawaii. San Jose State's last chance to avoid its second shutout loss of the season ended at the Fresno State 7 with 5:50 to play.
"When the big plays needed to be done, we got them done, especially in the red zone and on the goal line," said Owens, who snagged Fresno State's first interception of the season on Tafralis' first pass. "And luckily, their kicker didn't make any."
San Jose State outgained Fresno State 201-165 in the first half, but went to the locker room trailing 6-0 because of a baffling string of ineptitude by its kickers.
Will Johnson missed two field goals in the first half, stretching the Spartans' streak of missed field goals to nine straight by two kickers. Tomey abandoned his kicking game from then on, but the Spartans failed to convert on four straight fourth downs in Fresno State territory -- including a third-quarter TD pass negated by a penalty.