FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Jabari Carr hauled in a go-ahead TD pass from Matt Faulkner with 54 seconds remaining to help San Jose State snap a 16-game road losing skid with a 38-31 win over Colorado State on Saturday.
The Spartans (2-3) have now won back-to-back games for the first time in three years.
Brandon Rutley rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns before limping off the field after spraining his left ankle in the third quarter.
The Spartans lost some of their steam without their powerful tailback, squandering a 31-17 lead in the second half.
With the game tied and 3:30 remaining, Faulkner guided the Spartans down the field and found a wide open Carr on the left side for a 38-yard touchdown.
Cornerback Ronnie Yell ended a last-gasp effort by the Rams (3-2) as he intercepted a long pass from Pete Thomas in the closing seconds.
Faulkner threw for 313 yards and two scores, including one to tight end Ryan Otten, who finished with 112 yards receiving.
Rutley accounted for a bulk of the damage against the Rams as he scored on runs of 12 and 23 yards in the first half, recording his second straight 100-yard game. The senior tailback ran for 209 yards in a win over New Mexico State last weekend.
However, Rutley was helped to the bench after hurting his ankle midway through the third quarter. He grimaced in pain as trainers and teammates checked on him, before limping off the field and into the locker room on crutches.
Rutley returned in the game’s waning moments to celebrate with his teammates.
This was the Spartans’ first win away from home since beating Idaho on Nov. 1, 2008. It’s also their first non-conference road win in nine years, when they knocked off Illinois.
The Rams trailed 31-17 with 3:32 left in the third quarter but rallied behind the play of Thomas. The sophomore hit Thomas Coffman in stride for a 47-yard TD pass to pull CSU within a touchdown.
Thomas then tied the game with 11:33 remaining as he raced in from 9 yards, leaping over several San Jose State defenders at the goal line.
The Rams had a chance to win the contest with 3:30 left, but Ben DeLine’s attempt at a career-long 48-yard field goal drifted wide left.
The Spartans took over at their 30 and methodically drove down the field for the winning score.
Thomas finished with 387 yards passing and three scores for the Rams.
Behind a powerful first-half performance by Rutley, the Spartans took a 24-14 lead into the locker room. Rutley had 104 yards as San Jose scored its most points in a first half in four years.
The lead could have been even more convincing had the Spartans not fumbled inside their own territory just before halftime. Chandler Jones caught a pass over the middle and ran into the back of a teammate, causing the ball to pop free and Shaq Bell pounced on it for CSU.
Five plays later, Thomas hit Lou Greenwood for a 25-yard score, their second TD connection of the half.
Before that, the game’s momentum heavily favored San Jose State. Safety Duke Ihenacho returned a fumble 20 yard for a score, the first time the Spartans have done that in nearly seven years.
The Spartans looked impressive from the opening drive, when they marched it 78 yards on seven plays. Rutley capped it off with a 12-yard scoring burst.
It was the first time this season the Rams have allowed a score in the opening quarter.
Rams linebacker Mychal Sisson turned 23 on Saturday, but spent his birthday hobbling around the sideline instead of harassing San Jose State. Sisson, a senior captain, broke his right ankle three weeks ago against Northern Colorado. He’s a big loss to one of the top pass defenses in the country.
The Rams have a week off before hosting fourth-ranked Boise State and Heisman hopeful Kellen Moore on Oct. 15.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)