BREAKING NEWS San Jose State forces three-way tie for first place

San Jose State forces three-way tie for first place

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LAS VEGAS — The San Jose State Spartans left here Saturday evening not knowing the full measure of their achievement.

They had extended their winning streak to six games. They had knocked off the first-place team on its home field, beating the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 37-31. They had forged a three-way tie atop the Mountain West standings, forcing league officials to determine which two teams will play next Saturday in the league’s championship game.

The verdict, based on multiple computer rankings, is expected Sunday morning. UNLV (9-3 overall, 6-2 conference) is assured a spot in the game and will either host Boise State or travel to San Jose.

Both teams have identical records — 7-5 overall, 6-2 conference. Boise State won the head-to-head matchup, beating the Spartans 35-27 on Oct. 7 in Boise. But evidently, there is much more involved, more than the brain can handle.

“Through the whole week we were just focused on ourselves and our process,” quarterback Chevan Cordeiro said. “We didn’t really focus on the outcome and what would happen if we won or if we lost.”

So the Spartans went out and took care of business. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, held off every challenge from UNLV and completed their comeback from a 1-5 start to the season.

“There was a time where we weren’t playing meaningful games in November at San Jose State,” coach Brent Brennan said. “But now we are.

“When we were 1-5 no one gave us a chance except for the guys in that locker room. That’s what’s so special.”

The Spartans haven’t lost since that day in Boise, an accomplishment to which many contributed.

Saturday, senior running back Kairee Robinson carried 16 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns. His 40-yard run, which gave the Spartans a 37-17 lead early in the fourth quarter, was his 20th touchdown of the season, breaking the school record held by Deonce Whitaker.

Assisted by his large friends, Kairee Robinson (32), set a San Jose State record Saturday with his 20th touchdown of the season. (Photo by Madeline Carter/Las Vegas Review-Journal) (Madeline Carter/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro completed 19 of 26 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns.

The first scoring strike, 56 yards to tight end Sam Olson, came on the opening possession of the game. UNLV fumbled the ensuing kickoff and SJSU converted the turnover into a 10-0 lead.

After UNLV went three-and-out, Cordeiro drove the Spartans 80 yards in eight plays, the last a 25-yard run by Robinson.

UNLV had faced a 17-point deficit three times previously this season and twice had come back to win. Sure enough, here came the Rebels. Two minutes into the third quarter, San Jose’s lead was 20-17.

“We just needed to find a way to finish, no matter what it was,” Cordeiro said. “We knew that it was going to be a four-quarter game, they’re a tough team and they’re coached well.”

From there, Brennan turned everything over to his six-year collegiate starting quarterback who would repay him with three straight scoring drives to put the game out of reach.

“He’s such a good player,” Brennan said. “It’s so crazy, his poise, his playmaking ability […] He is such a special human being. I feel so fortunate that he chose us when he was looking for a new home.”

Up three, Cordeiro threaded the needle on a jump ball catch for receiver Nick Nash over two UNLV defenders for 51 yards. Three plays later, he’d find a wide-open Isaac Jernagin in the end zone to make it 27-17.

After Robinson’s record-breaking touchdown made it 37-17, the Rebels scored twice and got the ball back for one last chance with 51 seconds to play. A fourth-down play from the Vegas 40 failed and the Spartans ran out the clock, awaiting a fate to be decided by a computer in the Mountain West offices.

 

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