SAN JOSE -- San Jose State's four-game win streak came to a screeching halt in Saturday's deflating 49-27 loss to Utah State at Spartan Stadium.
A 400-yard passing game from quarterback David Fales couldn't overshadow Utah State's dominating pass rush. The Aggies recorded a school-record 13 sacks to win the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
"We knew they had a good front," SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre said of Utah State. "That shouldn't have been like that. I thought they would've had a few sacks, but not 13."
Fales completed 38 of 50 passes for 467 yards -- all career highs -- but the sacks were damaging. Fales lost 102 yards on the 13 sacks, which were three more than SJSU had allowed in its previous five games combined.
"They were getting good jumps on our snaps," Fales said.
It added up to a loss that puts a significant crimp in the Spartans' hope of winning a WAC title. SJSU (4-2) has lost four in a row to Utah State (5-2), which will join the Spartans in the Mountain West Conference next season.
"If we win the next six, hopefully we'll still be in the position where we can be WAC champions," wide receiver Noel Grigsby said. "This is kind of like a slap in the face. We need to get better."
San Jose State was nearly buried in the first half in front of a homecoming crowd of 15,168.
Utah State scored touchdowns on its first four possessions and the Spartans trailed 28-3 early in the second quarter.
With the game on the verge of getting ugly, the Spartans finally found a spark. Fales completed a 35-yard pass to tight end Peter Tuitupou that seemed to calm the passing game. SJSU capped that drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Fales to Kyle Nunn.
The Spartans defense got its first stop, and SJSU went back to the air. Fales hit Grigsby for a 50-yard pass on the first play of a drive that eventually resulted in a 26-yard field goal to make it 28-13.
Another defensive stop gave the Spartans the ball at their own 15-yard line with 1:18 left in the first half.
Fales went to work, completing all eight of his passes for 92 yards. He hit Grigsby for a 20-yard touchdown to get within 28-20 at halftime.
SJSU hoped to carry that momentum over to the second half and nearly did. The Aggies faced a third-and-1 from their own 14 but converted in a big way. Running back Kerwynn Williams broke through the line and went 86 yards for a crowd-silencing touchdown.
"That was an ugly, ugly, ugly play," MacIntyre said. "That looked like Pop Warner football."
Utah State delivered on another third-and-1 on its next drive. Elusive quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns, took an option keeper 28 yards for a score and 42-20 lead.
"I think that was a real big turning point in the football game," Utah State coach Gary Andersen said. "For us to be able to get the ball and score, stop them, get the ball and score. It took us back to where we were in the second quarter."
The Spartans tried to charge back again. Fales led a drive that closed with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Grigsby to make it 42-27 with 1:56 left in the third.
Utah State gave SJSU a chance. The Aggies' next three drives ended with a fumble and two punts, but the Spartans couldn't take advantage.
Even a successful trick play didn't get SJSU going. On fourth-and-22, the Spartans converted with a hook and lateral. Fales threw to Jabari Carr and he pitched to Chandler Jones, who fought off defenders to gain the first down at the Utah State 15. But a sack on third down and a fourth-down incompletion kept SJSU off the board.
"I thought when we got that we were going to go right in and score," MacIntyre said of the trick play. "And then they sacked us."
That essentially sealed the Spartans' fate. They got the ball again, but Fales was sacked and fumbled. Utah State recovered and converted that turnover into a touchdown by Williams, who had 176 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries.
SJSU couldn't get to Keeton, who ran for 47 yards. The Spartans entered the game second in the nation in sacks but were held without one.
"It was just one of those days where it wasn't happening," SJSU defensive end Travis Johnson said.
Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.