SAN JOSE – The Battle for the Valley Trophy was no contest as San Jose State tasted final defeat against rival Fresno State on Thanksgiving Day, 40-9.
The Spartans (5–7, 3–5 Mountain West) failed to qualify for a bowl game in the final of the regular season after a second consecutive defeat at CEFCU Stadium in front of 15,323 fans.
Last year’s Mountain West title and perfect regular season should seem like a mirage after San Jose State ended its pre-pandemic 2019 campaign with a similar record.
The Spartans trailed 23–9 and never set any momentum on offense after Matt Mercurio settled for field goals during three trips to the red zone. San Jose State QB Nick Starkle – 19 for 42 for 260 yards – and his potential successor Nick Nash lost each in the first half as turnover plagued the team towards the end.
26–9 in the middle of the third quarter, the Spartans wasted time in the third and short in midfield. Tyler Nevens, one of the players attending the Senior Day pregame event, was embarrassed by the line of scrimmage, and SJSU coach Brent Brennan opted to punt rather than move to fourth.
On the ensuing drive, Fresno State (9-3, 6-2) played a trick game as the final dagger – a jet sweep handoff in reverse to a flip back to quarterback Jake Hanner to the 29-yard wide receiver screen. To Cropper.
Heiner, an East Bay product off Monte Vista High, threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns, including a 45-yard bomb, to run back Jordan Mims in the second quarter as the Menlo-Atherton High graduate was hit with a bust. was left open during coverage.
Hainer also worked with running back Ronnie Rivers for a 13-yard TD in the fourth quarter. Rivers, who lives at Freedom High in the East Bay, ran 65 yards on 14 carries and now needs only 57 yards to surpass her father Ron for second place on the school’s all-time rushing list.
Fresno State could qualify for the conference championship game if No. 22 San Diego State loses to Boise State on Friday.