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Deese,Jr., Defense Lead Spartans Over Air Force

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Air Force AF 1-1 , 0-1

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San Jose State SJSU 1-0 , 1-0

1st 2nd 3rd 4th F
AF Air Force 0 0 0 6 6
SJSU San Jose State 0 0 14 3 17

Game Recap: Football | 10/24/2020 10:54:00 PM | Joe Waltasti

San Jose State Postgame Comments

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Senior tight end Derrick Deese, Jr., and a stingy San Jose State defense propelled the Spartans to a season-opening 17-6 win over Air Force on Saturday night at CEFCU Stadium, snapping the Falcons’ NCAA-best nine-game winning streak.

The Spartans (1-0, 1-0 Mountain West) allowed Air Force to gain 298 total yards in the game. The Falcons totaled 410 yards in a 40-7 win over Navy on Oct. 3. The six points allowed is the fewest by SJSU since blanking Navy, 12-0, on Sept. 29, 2012.
This is the first time the Spartans have opened Mountain West play with a win since joining the league for the 2013 season. It’s also the first ever league win for SJSU against Air Force. Due to COVID-19 regulations, the game was played with no fans in attendance.
Yards and points were tough to come by for both teams in the first half.
The San Jose State defense was the star of the show leading into halftime. Defensive lineman Cade Hall recovered an Air Force fumble in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the defense came together for a goal-line stand to keep the game scoreless.

Bench celebration vs Air Force 2020
After a Spartan interception gave Air Force the ball at their own 11-yard line, the Falcons marched down the field on a 17-play, 87-yard drive. But facing a second and goal from the one-yard line, the SJSU defense recorded three straight stops, including a fourth-down tackle for loss, to keep the Falcons from scoring. Soane Toia made the stop on second down, Tre Webb and Tre Jenkins combined for a tackle on third down and Webb brought down Jordan Gidrey in the backfield for a loss on fourth down.
The scoreless first half was the first in the FBS since Georgia and Kentucky were scoreless on Oct. 19, 2019.  Air Force and SJSU combined for 31 first half points last year.
In the first half, SJSU quarterback Nick Starkel was 9-of-13 passing for 59 yards and an interception while the Spartans had four backs combine for 33 yards on the ground. SJSU had 92 total yards in the opening half while Air Force had 149, almost all of them coming on the long second quarter drive which resulted the goal-line stand.
After the scoreless first half, Deese, Jr. and the SJSU offense broke through in the third quarter.
The Spartans opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 92-yard drive. Starkel hit Bailey Gaither on a 52-yard strike to get the Spartans into the redzone. Two plays later, Starkel notched his first touchdown pass for the Spartans with a seven-yard strike to Deese in the back of the endzone.
Two drives later, the Spartan defense forced another fumble. This time, Kyle Harmon knocked it loose and Jenkins recovered at the Air Force 14-yard line to set up another score.
Starkel completed a pair of passes before lofting a ball to Deese, Jr. along the side of the endzone. The big tight end made a nimble play, making the catch and keeping one foot inbounds for the touchdown. The Spartans out-gained Air Force, 119-35, in the third quarter and had six first downs in the quarter compared to just one.

Air Force was able to get on the board on its opening drive of the fourth quarter. But, once again, the Spartan defense was able to make a goal-line stop, stuffing Air Force quarterback Haaziq Daniels on a two-point conversion attempt. The Spartans owned a 14-6 lead with 13:08 left in the game.
The Spartans responded to the Air Force touchdown with a long scoring drive. SJSU worked down the field for a field goal to cap a 15-play, 78-yard drive that gobbled up 7:50 of game clock. A big moment came on a third-and-nine at the Air Force 29-yard line when a holding penalty was called against the defense, allowing SJSU to keep the drive alive and gain 17 more yards to turn a potential 47-yard field goal into a 30-yard make.
Up two scores, the Spartans forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with 4:17 remaining. A short drive ended with a punt, giving Air Force a chance with 2:44 left to play. The Falcons marched down the field but missed a 45-yard field with 47 seconds left to seal the win for the Spartans.
While Deese turned two catches into two touchdowns,Bailey Gaitherled the Spartans with 110 yards receiving on eight catches and 12 targets.Kairee Robinsonhad 31 yards on 12 carries to lead the Spartans on the ground. Starkel finished the game 226 yards passing on 22-of-29 passing with one interception and two touchdowns. He registered a quarterback rating of 157.2 in his SJSU debut.
San Jose State is scheduled to meet New Mexico next weekend in Albuquerque next Saturday. The Lobos had their season-opener against Colorado State canceled due to COVID-19 issues in the surrounding community.

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Team Statistics

Total Yards 298 294
Pass Yards 92 226
Rushing Yards 206 68
Penalty Yards 4-55 6-45
1st Downs 17 19
3rd Downs 9-16 5-12
4th Downs 1-2 0-1
TOP 29:24 30:36
3rd Quarter

06:48 – SJSU – DEESE, Derrick 7 yd pass from STARKEL, Nick (MERCURIO, Matt kick) 9 plays, 92 yards, TOP 4:30

0 7

00:43 – SJSU – DEESE, Derrick 11 yd pass from STARKEL, Nick (MERCURIO, Matt kick) 3 plays, 14 yards, TOP 1:24

0 14
4th Quarter

13:16 – AF – PATTERSON, Kyle 34 yd pass from DANIELS, Haaziq (DANIELS, Haaziq rush failed) 6 plays, 65 yards, TOP 2:27

6 14

05:18 – SJSU – MERCURIO, Matt 30 yd field goal 15 plays, 78 yards, TOP 7:50

6 17

Game Leaders

Passing LeadersRushing LeadersReceiving LeadersDefense Leaders


#3 WEBB, Tre

  • Tackles 11
  • TFL 2.0
  • Sacks 0.0
  • YDS 0


Players Mentioned

Derrick Deese, Jr.

#87 Derrick Deese, Jr.

TE 6′ 4″ 235 lbs Senior Bailey Gaither

#84 Bailey Gaither

WR 6′ 1″ 182 lbs Graduate Student Cade Hall

#92 Cade Hall

DL 6′ 2″ 260 lbs Junior Kyle Harmon

#45 Kyle Harmon

LB 6′ 0″ 229 lbs Junior Tre Jenkins

#22 Tre Jenkins

S 6′ 1″ 213 lbs Sophomore Kairee Robinson

#32 Kairee Robinson

RB 5′ 8″ 185 lbs Sophomore Tre Webb

#3 Tre Webb

S 6′ 0″ 202 lbs Senior Nick Starkel

#17 Nick Starkel

QB 6′ 3″ 214 lbs Graduate Student Soane Toia

#78 Soane Toia

DL 6′ 1″ 290 lbs Freshman

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