San Jose, Calif. – San Jose State quarterback Chevan Cordeiro rumbled for a two-yard touchdown with 1:11 to play in regulation, helping the Spartans beat Portland State, 21-17, at CEFCU Stadium.
The attendance was 16,291, the highest for a home opening game since September 17, 2011.
Cordeiro passed for 239 yards and had 58 more yards on the ground. He looked very poise in the pocket throughout the game.
“We made too many mistakes and we left two touchdowns on the field in the first half,” said Vikings Coach Bruce Barnum. But he also acknowledged the toughness of his team played with, led by the defense.
“It was an outstanding performance by the defense. But there were too many mistakes to follow up what they did. They put us in a great position to win, but we have to clean it up and not make mistakes I saw in the other two phases of the game on offense and special teams.”
New starting quarterback Dante Chachere was on fire coming out of the tunnel. The sophomore dime thrower drove the PSU 66 yards for a touchdown in his first series. Chachere completed 4-4 passes for 47 yards, including an 11-yard TD toss to wideout Maclaine Griffin. That gave the Vikings an early 7-0 lead.
Chachere completed 24-37 passes for 270 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He rushed 14 times for 83 yards.
“He learned and I was proud of him,” said Barnum of his new quarterback. “The pick he threw in the first half. well, the touchdown he threw in the second half was on the same play. He learned and adjusted. I was happy with what I saw from him. If he keeps doing that, he is going to put a lot of points up.”
The Spartans (1-0, 0-0 Mountain West) are known for its defensive front seven and they got after everyone in the backfield. The Vikings (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky) went three-and-out in their next two series. SJSU scored on their next two series and led 14-7 early in the second quarter.
Portland State answered with a 12-play, 70-yard drive in the third quarter. A pair of SJSU personal fouls helped the cause. Gianni Smith finished the drive with a 35-yard field goal, making it 14-10 SJSU.
On a 4th-and-2, at the Spartans 19, a Chachere keeper went for eight yards and a first down. Two plays later, Chachere found Beau Kelly in the middle of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass. PSU led 17-14 with 9:57 to play in the game.
The Spartans missed a chance to tie with a 37-yard field goal attempt that flew wide right. But a few plays later Jordan Cobbs picked off a Chachere pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. SJSU took over at the PSU 23 with 6:20 to play.
Portland State was able to stop that drive, making a fourth-and-goal stop with 4:03 left.
The Vikings took over at their own one-yard line, but were limited to eight yards and a punt. It was returned to the PSU 32. Six plays and two PSU penalties later Cordeiro sprinted into the end zone with the winning score.
PSU had 1:11 to play, but could only get to midfield before a last-second Hail Mary fell a little short.
Portland State can look at two turnovers, a special teams miscue and seven costly penalties as big factors as how they lost the opener.
PSU is now 4-43 all-time against FBS-level competition. The Vikings are 2-20 against the Mountain West with wins over Hawai’i and New Mexico.
The Spartans are 45-54-7 in season-opening games. San Jose State has wins in its last four season openers for the first time since 1976
“I told the team don’t accept ‘you played well’ from this. Win the game. That’s what we need to do. We need to clean up the mistakes and win those games.” said Barnum.
The Spartans head to Auburn to face the Tigers on Sept. 10 at 4:30 p.m. (PT) on ESPNU and KTRB 860 AM.