The WAC is going out a winner.
In the final game to be played by a WAC conference member, San Jose State rallied in the Military Bowl for a 29-20 victory over Bowling Green. Quarterback David Fales passed for a Military Bowl record 395 yards to help the Spartans come back from a small deficit in the fourth quarter for the win.
With Utah State’s victory against Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl earlier this bowl season, the WAC completes a perfect 2-0 postseason record before calling it quits. The conference will officially become the first victim of ongoing conference alignment in football, but will continue to exist for other sports with incoming members filling holes in membership. Utah State and San Jose State will each join the Mountain West Conference next season, following in the footsteps of former WAC members Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, Hawaii the past two seasons.
Far from a clean game, the Military Bowl was once again not short on drama, once again seeing a close battle go in to the final quarter of play. This year’s game saw San Jose State and Bowling Green exchange the lead four times in the second half, each team blocking a punt, and a safety.
San Jose State took the early lead with the first of two touchdown passes from Fales, with Kyle Nunn hauling in a 33-yard pass over the middle and finding open space down the right sideline for the early score just five minutes in to the game. The Falcons chipped away with a pair of field goals, unable to truly capitalize on early pressure in the punting game that resulted in a near block and a block that led to a field goal. San Jose State’s blocked punt in the second half led to a safety for the Spartans, followed by a touchdown just two minutes later. That touchdown was the second scoring pass from Fales, this time to Chandler Jones to retake the lead, 19-13.
Bowling Green’s John Pettigrew looked to take a long run up the middle of the San Jose State defense for a score just minutes in to the fourth quarter but a video review placed the Falcons at the San Jose State one-yard line. Pettigrew gave Bowling Green the lead one play later with a plunge from the one-yard line and gave Bowling Green the 20-19 lead.
Austin Lopez gave San Jose State a 22-19 lead with under five minutes to play when he kicked a 27-yard field goal. Bowling Green fumbled on the ensuing possession, setting up San Jose State for a knockout blow with time winding down. De’Leon Eskridge did not have a particularly productive afternoon, rushing for just 32 yards on 13 attempts and adding six receiving yards on three receptions, but his short touchdown run near the goal line gave San Jose State some breathing room and the final score of the ballgame.
San Jose State was being coached by interim head coach Kent Baer, who assumed the interim coaching duties after Mike MacIntyre accepted a head coaching position with Colorado. MacIntyre would like to add Baer to his coaching staff at Colorado. Whether Baer joins his former boss to continue serving as defensive coordinator remains to be seen. San Jose State has named former San Diego head coach Ron Caragher as their next head coach.