SAN JOSE -- San Jose State wasn't flawless, but it still had no problems collecting a season-opening 24-0 victory over Sacramento State on Thursday night in the SJSU coaching debut of Ron Caragher.
David Fales, the nation's most accurate passer last season, completed only half his passes, and starting running back Tyler Ervin was injured on his second carry of the season.
But the Spartans' defense forced two turnovers in pitching the shutout, Fales eventually settled into a bit of a groove, and backup running back Jason Simpson had a career night before a crowd of 13,136 at Spartan Stadium.
"I think we played well," Caragher said. "At times we had a few too many three-and-outs. I liked the big plays. We had a lot of big plays. I think we were three off-the-fingertips throws from a few more."
The San Jose State defense repeatedly stuffed the Hornets anytime the Football Championship Subdivision foe generated any offense, including two fourth-down stops inside the 10-yard line.
"I'm really impressed with our defense with how they stepped up," Caragher said. "Once they got inside our 5-yard line, we really just built a wall."
It's San Jose State's first win in a season opener since it beat UC Davis in 2008.
Fales finished 16 of 32 for 225 yards and two touchdowns. He was plagued a bit by overthrows, perhaps not quite in sync in his first game in the Spartans' new offense.
"We know on offense that it was little stuff -- fingertips," Fales said. "Had we made those fingertips, offense would've done great."
Simpson, a fifth-year senior who entered the game with only 90 career rushing yards, flashed his potential in the third quarter with an electrifying 55-yard touchdown run. He ran for 135 yards on 21 carries, an average of 6.4 per rush.
SJSU may need more of the same from him the rest of the season after Ervin was seen on crutches on the sideline with an apparent right foot injury. Ervin, who entered the season with durability concerns, had two carries for 2 yards.
"I've been preparing for moments like this for four years," Simpson said. "It's just always being ready. When you're time comes, you just got to go out there and play."
The Spartans mustered only a 37-yard field goal by Austin Lopez out of their first four drives. That kick, which kept Lopez perfect (18 of 18) in his career, was set up by Bené Benwikere's 10th career interception.
Fales completed five of his first 13 passes but picked up the pace a bit in the second quarter. The first touchdown drive of the season featured passes of 46 and 31 yards to Chandler Jones (eight catches, 130 yards), the latter of which made it 10-0 with 12:43 left in the second quarter.
Fales hooked up with Noel Grigsby for a 15-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left in the half to make it 17-0. Simpson's long run in the third wrapped up the scoring.
Buhagiar said he's looking forward to returning to the state of Alabama next season when the Spartans face Auburn. He made his collegiate debut in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2010 against then-defending national champion Alabama and had a team-high 10 tackles in the loss.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.
San Jose State (1-0) at Stanford (0-0), 8 p.m. Pac-12 Network