SAN JOSE, Calif. — After watching two potent offenses march up and down the field with ease in the first half, San Jose State coach Ron Caragher knew he needed to do something bold to get an extra possession in the second.
An onside kick to open the half accomplished just that and helped the Spartans get bowl eligible with their first win over a ranked opponent in 13 years.
San Jose State converted that surprise play into a touchdown and David Fales did the rest by throwing for a school-record 547 yards and six scores in a 62-52 victory Friday over No. 16 Fresno State.
"The way things were going, it becomes a matter of possessions with two offenses that were constantly scoring," Caragher said. "It was executed to perfection. A huge thing to gain this extra possession."
That combined with a fourth-quarter interception by Carr proved to be much for the Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 Mountain West) to overcome as they saw their hopes for a possible BCS bowl berth end with the loss.
Fales was every bit as good as the more heralded Carr, matching his six first-half touchdown passes and completing 37 of 45 passes in a near perfect performance that made the Spartans (6-6, 4-4) eligible to go to a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1986-87.
"We still had stuff to play for," San Jose State linebacker Keith Smith said. "Our backs were against the wall to get eligible for a bowl game."
Carr threw for 519 yards and six touchdowns, but also had a fourth-quarter interception for the Bulldogs. Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 264 yards and three scores.
The loss ended Fresno State's chances to beat out Northern Illinois for a spot in a prestigious BCS game. The Huskies are the only undefeated team from a non-automatic qualifying conference.
"It's hard," Carr said. "Guys are torn up as well they should be. If you like losing there's something wrong with you."
The Bulldogs will still play in the Mountain West title game next week against either Utah State or Boise State but had their chances at a big bowl payoff done in by a porous defense.
Fales had his pick of targets with freshman Tyler Winston catching 10 passes for 164 yards and a score, Kyle Nunn having 10 for 160 yards and two touchdowns and Chandler Jones finishing with eight for 146 yards and three TDs.
"Our receivers were making good plays," Fales said. "Playing an offense like that, field goals weren't going to win the game. We needed touchdowns."
That entertaining performance has the Spartans hopeful of making a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1986-87. The Mountain West has six bowl slots but could have eight eligible teams if Colorado State and Wyoming win Saturday.
After a back-and-forth first half that ended with San Jose State on top 42-41, assistant coach Terry Malley convinced Caragher to take the chance with the onside kick just before the start of the second half. Fresno State's coaches warned their players about the possibility but the Spartans executed it to perfection and it led to a 7-yard touchdown run by Thomas Tucker.
"They told me to get ready, we're going to onside kick it," Fales said. "I said, 'Yeah, let's go for it.'"
The teams then traded field goals before Fales drove the Spartans to their eighth touchdown on his 1-yard keeper that made it 59-44 as San Jose State did a good job of milking the clock in the second half.
Smith helped seal the win with a leaping interception, ending Carr's streak of 305 straight passes without throwing a pick. That set up a second field goal by Austin Lopez that made it 62-44 and led to chants of "Over-rated! Over-rated!" from the crowd.1 comment on this story
"Put the blame on me for the offense," Carr said. "You guys want to praise me when it's good — Heisman this and all this. Blame me for the loss. I need to do a better job to help me team win."
The tone for the game was set immediately. Fales set the school record for career completions on the fourth play when he found Winston for a 33-yard gain. Two plays later, Nunn leaped over Curtis Riley to come down with a 31-yard score.
Carr took two plays to match that score, connecting on a 46-yard deep ball to Adams on the first play followed by a 27-yard touchdown to Josh Harper, who left the game with an injured left leg after an impressive one-handed grab in the end zone.
Christian Tago blocked the extra point attempt. That proved to be the difference at the end of a first half that featured 12 touchdowns and 1,006 yards of combined offense as the defenses had no answers for the future pro passers and their collection of talented receivers.