Spartans QB is named MVP after record day
San Jose State quarterback David Fales made up for one miscue and a missing coach with a record setting afternoon for the Military Bowl's first ranked participant.
Completing 33 of 43 passes for a Military Bowl record 395 yards and two touchdowns, Fales was named the game's MVP as he propelled the 24th-ranked Spartans to a 29-20 victory over Bowling Green before an announced crowd of 17,835 at a breezy and chilly RFK Stadium.
The performance gave the Spartans (11-2) their seventh straight win, pushed Fales past 4,000 passing yards for the season and more than made up for the difficulty of playing without coach Mike MacIntyre, who left for the same job at Colorado last week.
"David has done that all year, and the offense has done that all year," Spartans defensive coordinator and interim coach Kent Baer said. "That's an awfully good defense we played against today, and they proved that. But we can throw it against anybody."
Fales, a junior, completed passes of 15 yards or more to Noel Grigsby (nine catches, 134 yards), Ryan Otten and Tyler Ervin on the same drive to set up freshman Austin Lopez's 27-yard go-ahead field goal for a 22-20 lead with 4:43 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"That's the best passing offense we've faced all year," said Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson, whose Falcons fell to 8-5. "Even when we held him down, he was still completing balls. ... He's a very accurate quarterback, and then they're very dynamic at wideout."
The Spartans added De'Leon Eskridge's 1-yard touchdown run after Travis Johnson knocked the ball loose on a sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Schilz (16-for-35, 159 yards).
Fales opened the scoring with a 33-yard strike to Kyle Nunn, and his only blemish came when he lost the ball on a blind-side sack by Charlie Walker on the Spartans' first possession of the second half. Chris Jones scooped up the fumble for the Falcons and rumbled to the San Jose State 8-yard line. Anthon Samuel then sliced down the middle for a touchdown to give the pesky Falcons -- who were 5-7 last season and 2-10 two years ago -- an unlikely 13-10 lead.
"It kind of woke me up from halftime," Fales said. "I was like, 'Now I'm ready. I'm warmed up now.' It definitely stunned me a little bit."
The Spartans, themselves 1-12 two years ago and 5-7 last season, then answered on special teams. Bene Benwikere burst through the middle to get a hand on Brian Schmiedebusch's punt, sending the ball bouncing through the end zone for a safety to cut the Falcons' lead to 13-12.
After getting the ball on the ensuing free kick, wide receiver Chandler Jones (six catches, 73 yards) finished off a 68-yard drive by eluding one defender, tiptoeing along the sideline and diving over another would-be tackler to stretch the ball in for an 18-yard score and a 19-13 lead.
The Falcons, who had blocked a punt in the first half, didn't give in, using John Pettigrew's 34-yard run to the 1-yard line to set up his own touchdown a play later to go back on top 20-19 before what proved to be San Jose State's game-winning drive.