SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Perhaps Utah State's offensive fireworks on Saturday at Spartan Stadium would have been entertaining enough.
Perhaps their season-high scoring mark, however, was superseded by a mark even more impressive -- and historic.
With 273 passing yards from Chuckie Keeton and another 184 on the ground from Kerwynn Williams, USU (5-2, 1-0 WAC) defeated San Jose State (4-2, 0-1 WAC) 49-27 in San Jose, Calif.
The Aggies added to their best start in 30 years.
But another number is even more eye-popping -- 13 sacks, a school record. TCU's 15 sacks in 2000 -- a WAC and NCAA record -- kept the Aggie defense from claiming other notorious records.
USU didn't do it by incessant blitzes, either. Routine four- and five-man rushes continued to overwhelm the Spartan defensive line. That especially applied to the second half, when the Aggies registered eight tackles of junior quarterback David Fales behind the line of scrimmage. Defensive ends Connor Williams and Jordan Nielsen, freshman linebacker Kyler Fackrell -- even a cornerback, Nevin Lawson -- led the relentless USU attack with two sacks apiece.
"We go on the road after playing BYU and they had a bye. Tough luck on paper, initially," coach Gary Andersen said. "But these kids think about preparing all the time, and not everything will go their way every single snap and every single game, but they played like crazy and made it happen."
Certainly, Fales getting harassed for 60 minutes of football happened. Defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Dave Aranda said that his group certainly planned on blitzing more often than normal to start the contest. But he called for more one-on-one battles in the trenches as the contest wore on and his staff recognized its potential effectiveness.
Aranda identified the first critical factor as timing. Crediting defensive graduate assistant Spencer Toone and associate head coach Bill Busch for making right calls from the booth, Aranda said he believed SJSU's offensive line would struggle when the USU defensive backfield shifted, allowing new angles for the likes of Williams and Nielsen.
He couldn't have been more right -- yet, his second factor did anything but draw attention to himself.
"Some 92 plays -- I mean, they're battling their butts off getting pressure," he said. "It comes down to players. Players make plays and they were able to make some big ones immediately today. The fourth quarter was a hairy deal, where we were trying to pull away from them. And they made plays when they needed to."
Indeed, the Aggies it was still a two-possession game after the third quarter, when 86- and 28-yard rushes from Williams and Keeton gave USU the most productive third-quarter offensive output of their season. Fales' four-yard touchdown throw to receiver Noel Grigsby -- despite a pass interference call -- in the corner of the east end zone with 1:56 remaining slashed into the Aggies' lead. It was one of 38 completions for Fales -- an SJSU single-season record--and one of 11 receptions for Grigsby, whose receiving yards (181) were just four short of a new career high.
USU's stout defense would not allow the Spartan faithful to have much more reason to cheer.
The Spartans' first full drive of the final stanza was thwarted after they had reached the USU 9. Williams sacked Fales for a 10-yard loss following a run from Minnesota transfer De'Leon Eskridge (14 carries, 58 yards) -- the third sack of the drive. That forced Fales to desperately heave one for Grigsby in the end zone on fourth down, which fell harmlessly to the turf with 5:19 remaining.
The Spartans took over at their own 27 with less than two minutes left, but the drive ended quickly with -- surprise -- a sack from Fackrell on the first play, causing a fumble that sealed an Aggie win that Andersen described as "tremendous."
Though he said his team gave their best offensive performance of the season, he wasn't ready to give the same distinction to the defense, despite the certain baker's dozen statistic.
That wasn't the same interpretation for others.
"This game was a slap in the face," Grigsby said. "I am completely proud of our team. You will never see a San Jose State team under Coach Mac (Mike MacIntyre) giving no effort."
For MacIntyre, he was hoping for better simulation of "fast" quarterbacks like Keeton (six carries, 48 yards) in practice. His focus was also on the well-being of his own signal-caller.
"I am just glad (Fales) stayed healthy," said MacIntyre, who added that SJSU may have tallied more than 600 total yards of offense without the sacks. "I take full responsibility for not playing as well as we should."
Andersen was perhaps most excited about his offense's showcase to begin, when Keeton guided touchdowns on their first four drives. It began with a 17-yard sideline toss to Chuck Jacobs at the 5:57 mark of the first quarter. It ended with a 21-yard strike to junior Travis Van Leeuwen with 9:26 left until halftime. Van Leeuwen was one of eight Aggies with two or more receptions, led by Matt Austin (six catches, 93 yards).
The Spartans drew within one score just once after the first quarter, when Fales connected with Grigsby on a 20-yard pass with 24 seconds remaining in the second quarter. But Williams' 86-yard dash -- the eighth-longest in USU history -- just 1:13 into the second half restored the Aggies' distance.
With a crowd-stunning number of sacks, it stayed that way, too.
"We knew they would pass a lot, so there would be a lot of opportunities for a rush," said Fackrell, a converted safety from high school. "We wanted to take advantage of their offensive line. It went pretty well. It's big, coming off a loss like at BYU. (The WAC title) was still in front of us. We knew this would be a possible championship game."
Utah St. 49, San Jose St. 27
At San Jose, Calif.
Utah St. 14 14 14 7 -- 49
San Jose St. 3 17 7 0 -- 27
San Jose State--Lopez 25 field goal, 10:07.
Utah State--Jacobs 17 pass from Keeton (Diaz kick), 5:57.
Utah State--Austin 5 pass from Keeton (Diaz kick), 1:37.
Utah State--K.Williams 50 run (Diaz kick), 14:18.
Utah State--Van Leeuwen 21 pass from Keeton (Diaz kick), 9:26.
San Jose State--Nunn 3 pass from Fales (Lopez kick), 6:18.
San Jose State--Lopez 26 field goal, 3:13.
San Jose State--Grigsby 20 pass from Fales (Lopez kick), :24.
Utah State--K.Williams 86 run (Diaz kick), 13:47.
Utah State--Keeton 28 run (Diaz kick), 9:55.
San Jose State--Grigsby 4 pass from Fales (Lopez kick), 1:56.
Utah State--K.Williams 12 run (Diaz kick), 2:44.
Utah St. San Jose St.
First downs 18 27
Rushes-yards 24-212 41-4
Passing 273 467
Comp-Att-Int 26-35-0 38-51-0
Return Yards 0 (-1)
Punts-Avg. 5-42.0 5-32.6
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 5-45 5-40
Time of Possession 21:36 38:24
Rushing--Utah St., K.Williams 15-176, Keeton 6-47, Team 1-(minus 2), Jacobs 2-(minus 9). San Jose St., Eskridge 14-58, Jurich 6-18, Ervin 3-12, D.Freeman 2-9, Liaina 2-5, Fales 14-(minus 98).
Passing--Utah St., Keeton 26-35-0-273. San Jose St., Fales 38-50-0-467, Jurich 0-1-0-0.
Receiving--Utah St., Austin 6-93, K.Williams 4-30, Jacobs 3-32, Bartlett 3-28, Van Leeuwen 2-32, Webb 2-22, Reynolds 2-11, Natson 2-10, Marshall 1-12, Swindall 1-3. San Jose St., Grigsby 11-181, Carr 7-51, C.Jones 6-64, Otten 4-77, Eskridge 4-19, Nunn 2-17, Liaina 2-15, P.Tuitupou 1-35, Ervin 1-8.