From 1-12 to 11-2, the turnaround is complete.
San Jose State overcame two second-half deficits en route to a 29-20 win against Bowling Green in the Military Bowl Thursday in Washington D.C. to finish with 11 wins for the first time as a major college football program.
"I'm speechless, I don't know," quarterback David Fales said on ESPN shortly following the game. "This will be one of the best teams at San Jose State and (I'll) be up there with one of the greatest players."
Fales finished 33-for-44 for 395 yards passing with a pair of touchdowns and ended the year with a school-record 4,193 passing yards and 33 scores.
What a difference two years can make.
In 2010 -- coach Mike MacIntyre's first year as head coach -- the Spartans finished 1-12 before one of the most dramatic turnarounds in college football history. They went 5-7 last year before this year's magical run, which hasn't been all smiles and sunshine.
On Dec. 10 it was announcemed that MacIntyre would leave immediately for Colorado, where the Pac-12 school had reportedly quadrupled his salary from $500,000 to around $2 million a year.
"He was our leader, but we still ... much respect to him and he had to do what was right for his family," Fales said. "So, there was a little chaos at first, but our seniors and our vetrans and our captains came to together and just said 'It's about us. We need to get together and stay together, we have one more game to finish.'"
Finish they did.
Bowling Green (8-5) took a 20-19 lead on a 1-yard run from John Pettigrew with ten minutes, 26 seconds left in the game, but the Spartans would answer. They used a 13-play, 68-yard drive to setup Austin Lopez for what proved to be a game-winning 27-yard field goal. Two plays into the Eagles' ensuing drive, Travis Johnson forced a fumble of quarterback Matt Schilz to get the ball back for SJSU.
Five plays later, De'leon Eskridge scored on a 1-yard touchdown to put the game away.
"They're a good team, so we knew this was the kind of game we were getting into so we had to keep doing the same thing," Fales said. "Can't let that affect us. On the offensive side, we were going to just keep doing the same thing -- going, driving down and scoring. Our defense did a great job stopping them as well."
The Spartans led 10-6 at halftime, but fell behind 13-0 early in teh third quarter on an 8-yard touchdown run by Bowling Green's Anthon Samuel. A saftey cut the deficit to a point with four minutes, 18 seconds left in the third quarter before Fales hit Chandler Jones on an 18-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive to put San Jose State up 19-13.
Junior wide reciver Noel Grigsby finished with nine catches for 134 yards, junior Chandler Jones had six catches for 73 yards and sophomore Jabari Carr, a San Jose native, had seven catches for 50 yards.
San Jose State entered the game having won six straight games and reached the 11-win plateau for the first time since the 1939 team went 13-0.