San Jose State 33, Arkansas State 14
No triumphant return 18,492 see ASU falter in LR visit
BY TODD TRAUB ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Home is where the heartache is. San Jose State spoiled Arkansas State’s return to Little Rock and Coach Steve Roberts’ homecoming with a 33-14 victory before a crowd of 18,492 in the War Memorial Stadium Kickoff Classic on Saturday night. It was ASU’s first appearance in Little Rock since a 17-0 loss to North Texas State in 1983. That the Indians played their first "home game" in Little Rock instead of Jonesboro’s Indian Stadium didn’t matter, as ASU suffered its fifth loss in its past seven home games. Arkansas State surpassed Athletic Director Dean Lee’s attendance goal of 15,000 for the game, but Roberts suffered a bittersweet loss in his hometown to his old friend, San Jose State Coach Fitz Hill. "I’m very proud to be back in town and all that, but I can come visit any time," Roberts said. "I came down here to win a football game." Roberts and Hill, the former Arkansas assistant and recruiting coordinator, were teammates at Ouachita Baptist from 1984-1986. "We’re facing a lot of the same barriers and obstacles in building a program," Hill said. "I told him we both got a long way go." Turnovers littered Saturday’s loss, as they did in Sunday’s 63-7 loss at Virginia Tech. The Indians turned over the ball five times, leading to two defensive touchdowns and 20 Spartans points, with San Jose State scoring three times in the second half after turnovers.
ASU also committed five turnovers last week, with two resulting in defensive touchdowns and two more setting up scores. "We kept giving them opportunities, and they made the most of their opportunities," Roberts said. "This is the second week in a row we’ve had an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble return for a touchdown, and we can’t do those type of things if we’re going to be able to compete in a ballgame." San Jose State took a 14-7 lead when Carlos Koustas intercepted starter Elliot Jacobs’ hitch pass to the right and returned it 28 yards with 10:19 left in the first half. Jacobs said the interception was caused by a miscommunication when he checked off to a pass at the line of scrimmage. "We’ve got make sure we’re on the same page before we throw that ball," Roberts said. Koustas also recovered a fumble by Jerome Stegall, which led to a 22-yard field goal by Nick Gilliam to make it 17-7 with 11:28 left in the third quarter. Luke La Herran intercepted Jacobs again, which led to a 29-yard field goal by Gilliam that made it 26-7 in the closing seconds of the quarter. Safety Gerald Jones recovered a fumble when Jacobs was hit and lost the ball on a keeper and ran it back 72 yards to make it 33-14 with 13:24 left in the game. "Our defense caused turnovers and scored twice," Hill said. "Any time you do that, you know you have a chance to win it. They took care of our offense today." Jacobs, a sophomore, was replaced by sophomore Josh Driscoll, who threw an interception for ASU’s fifth turnover late in the fourth quarter. "We weren’t making the plays at that position at that particular time," Roberts said of the substitution. "From my standpoint I just need to work harder in practice to where those mistakes I made, I won’t make them in a game," said Jacobs, starting in place of injured fifth-year senior Tommy Miller. "Then they won’t have a reason to pull me." Arkansas State had three possessions inside the San Jose State 30 that ended in two missed field goals by Eric Neihouse and a fumble. "I had that feeling several times in the course of this ballgame that things would turn for us," Roberts said. "You could feel that energy on the sideline. But it seemed like every time we did we would go out and make a mistake and give the momentum back to San Jose State." A first-quarter fumble recovery by ASU linebacker Les Echols led to a touchdown pass from Jacobs to James Hickenbotham to open the scoring with 13:22 left in the second quarter. The Spartans scored the next 26 points before Jacobs scored on a 10-yard run, set up by his 70-yard completion to Mike Cox, with six seconds left in the third quarter. Scoring summary San Jose St. ............0 14 12 7 — 33 Arkansas St. ............0 7 7 0 — 14 SECOND QUARTER ASU—Hickenbotham 10 pass from Jacobs (Neihouse kick), 13:22 SJS—Starling 18 pass from Rislov (Gilliam kick), 10:36 SJS—Koustas 28 interception return (Gilliam kick), 10:19 THIRD QUARTER SJS—FG Gilliam 22, 11:28 SJS—Rigg 1 run (kick failed), 6:45 SJS—FG Gilliam 29, 0:28 ASU—Jacobs 10 run (Neihouse kick), 0:06 FOURTH QUARTER SJS—G. Jones 72 fumble return (Gilliam kick), 13:24 Attendance—18,492
Arkansas State linebacker Steven Tookes wraps up San Jose State’s Lamar Ferguson during Saturday night’s game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.