Las Vegas, NV – The San Jose Spartans (6-0) remain undefeated after defeating the Boise State Broncos (5-1) 34-20 in the Mountain West Football Championship.
The abbreviated 2020 season, due to COVID-19, was a breakout year for the Spartans who entered the contest on a 7 game winning streak. True to form, the Spartans’ prolific passing attack and tenacious Defensive Line allowed them to hoist its 1st Mountain West Trophy.
Boise has appeared in this game 4 times in recent years and is always considered a perennial power. Both teams are awaiting bowl announcements and should receive a bid relatively soon.
Spartan quarterback Nick Starkel put San Jose State on the board first. Boise’s defense got caught in a blitz and the cornerback missed the tackle in the flat. NFL-bound wide receiver Tre Walker took a short hitch route to the house for a 55-yard touchdown. Nick Starkel was awarded MVP after he finished the game 32-for-52 for 453 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Boise’s quarterback Hank Bachmeier was under a heavy dose of pressure from the stout Spartan defensive line. Hank’s athleticism and ability to escape pressure extended drives throughout the afternoon. However, Cade Hall, Spartan Defensive End and Mountain West Defensive Player Of The Year, set the tone with 2 sacks in the first quarter. Sophomore Standout Viliami Fehoko Defensive End was another unrelenting force that continued to collapse the pocket.
Boise Kicker Jonah Dalmas went 2 for 3 in the first half to put 6 points on the board for the Broncos. The first quarter was plagued by penalties that either extended or killed drives for both teams. San Jose State led 7-3 after the end of the 1st quarter.
Boise’s defense continued to pressure the middle of the pocket and hurry Starkel in the second quarter. Nose Tackle Divine Obichere created havoc throughout the contest. San Jose adjusted its offense and used screen passes and quick slants to offset the pass rush. Both teams played a relatively clean and disciplined 2nd quarter. The Boise defense stiffened in the Red Zone. The Spartans were forced to settle for 4 field goals from inside the 15-yard line. The Spartans took a 19-6 lead into halftime but had to feel like they left a lot of points on the board.
Boise’s special teams made it interesting in the 3rd quarter when Avery Williams returned a 69-yard punt for a touchdown. Boise closed the gap 19-13.
The Spartans responded like champions. Nick Starkel was able to steady the ship with timely completions to Tre Walker (7 catches for 137 yards) and Derrick Deese, Jr. Once Boise had to respect the passing game, the running lanes opened for running back Tyler Nevins. In the 4th quarter, Boise’s defense fought hard, but the Spartans added 2 more touchdowns to extend the lead 34-20.
San Jose state’s historical season was many firsts: Mountain West Champion, Top 25 National Ranking, and First victory over Boise State. Brennan stated that his most memorable part of the evening was the team and Athletic Director singing Lean on Me in the locker room.
This year was a huge success for the Spartans who outperformed all preseason metrics. Head Coach Brent Brennan inherited a young and depleted team and went 8-29 in the first 3 seasons. The culture is now that of winning expectations. Even on plays that did not result in penalties, you see Coach Brennan reinforcing discipline and scheme on the sidelines. In addition, much credit is due to Ben Thienes, Director of Football Operations and Alonzo Carter, Recruiting Coordinator and Running Back Coach Alonzo Carter. The Spartans are now set to be fierce rivals to all that enter Sparta.