SAN JOSE, Calif. — Cooper Rothe had a good bounce and a bad bounce Saturday afternoon. A 49-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the game bounced off a CEFCU Stadium crossbar, and a late onside kick bounced high into the air to give Wyoming a chance at recovering a late-game onside kick.
But even the good bounces produced bad results Saturday. Everything is bad, after all, when you end your regular season with a loss to one of the worst teams in the entire Football Bowl Subdivision.
San Jose State was the team that recovered that onside kick, cementing its first win over an FBS team in 365 days, 20-17. It came at the expense of a Wyoming team that was four points away from a Mountain West championship a year ago.
“I do think we took them a little more lightly than we should have,” Wyoming running back Kellen Overstreet said. “We still practiced hard through the week, but obviously we didn’t come out with the win. So we didn’t do something right.”
The Spartans entered the game with a 1-11 record, their only previous win having come against Cal Poly, a one-win Football Championship Subdivision team. San Jose State began the day with the worst defense in the nation in terms of scoring and held a Wyoming offense, without starting quarterback Josh Allen for the second straight week, to 17 points. No FBS team had scored fewer against the Spartans this season.
Unlike last week’s loss to Fresno State, Allen did go through pregame warmups Saturday.
“It was going to be a deal where it was going to have to be an emergency (for Allen to play),” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. “And we didn’t think, with where his arm strength was at, that he was going to give us our best chance to win.”
San Jose State running back DeJon Packer ran for a 44-yard touchdown with 2:09 remaining as the Wyoming defense attempted to give its offense one last opportunity.
“We pressed and did a gamble, and we missed a gap, and a run popped,” Bohl said. “It was disappointing.”
Wyoming (7-5 overall, 5-3 Mountain West) scored the next drive on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Nick Smith, who started his second straight game at quarterback, to C.J Johnson. But San Jose State’s recovery of Rothe’s onside kick ended any hopes of a comeback.
The Cowboys managed to put up 357 total yards of offense, 37 more than the Spartans, but the Cowboys also went three and out seven times and had two turnovers, both of which were Dakari Monroe interceptions on Smith passes. San Jose State, the nation’s most turnover-prone offense, had two turnovers as well: a Nela Lolohea fumble recovery and a Marcus Epps interception.
The Spartans got out to a 10-0 lead, scoring first on a 5-yard run by quarterback Montel Aaron after Monroe’s first interception left San Jose State knocking on Wyoming’s red zone. Bryce Crawford added a 44-yard field goal after Monroe’s second interception.
Wyoming’s only first-half score, a 1-yard Smith run, was set up by Austin Conway’s 55-yard punt return, his longest of the season. San Jose State answered that drive, however, with a 52-yard Crawford field goal after Tre Hartley put the Spartans in Wyoming territory with a 31-yard catch. Hartley had a game-high 109 receiving yards.
Wyoming’s offense appeared rejuvenated out of the halftime break, as the Cowboys drove down for a 28-yard Rothe field goal. But Wyoming wouldn’t score again until after Packer’s touchdown run had created a two-score lead.
“It was just a busted play,” safety Andrew Wingard said of the 44-yard score. “That’s really the story of how the game went, that touchdown.”
Allen met with media after the game for the first time since injuring his throwing shoulder Nov. 11 at Air Force. He hopes to be back for Wyoming’s bowl game.
“That’s the goal,” Allen said. “If I’m 100 percent, that’s something I would love to do is be back and play with this team. But I’m not going to go out there and risk it and put myself and my team at risk. If I’m not out there performing like I should, I shouldn’t be out there. That’s how we’re going to play this thing.”
Bohl said after last week’s game he did not expect Allen to be back for his senior season. Allen did not give a definitive answer when asked about the NFL Draft after Saturday’s game.
“We’ll see,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of things to take into account. I’ll talk with my family and trusted teammates to see what we want to do. So, time will tell.”
He is projected to be a first-round selection.
Bohl said after the game that he believes guard Kaden Jackson suffered a torn ACL. He also said freshman defensive tackle Javaree Jackson could be done for the year with a knee injury.
Overstreet ran for a career high 139 yards, the most by a Wyoming back this year. It was his first 100-yard game, and he had two runs of 30 or more yards. Johnson finished with a team-high 106 receiving yards. Smith completed 17-of-37 passes for 171 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
The Cowboys have now lost two straight games after winning three in a row and six of seven.
The Spartans remain the only Mountain West team other than Wyoming that Craig Bohl has not beaten. He had coached against them once before Saturday, a 2014 loss in Laramie.