SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- In the highest-scoring regulation game
in Division I-A history, Brian Nunez returned an interception 28
yards with 2:18 left for the last of 19 touchdowns in San Jose
State's 70-63 victory over Rice on Saturday night.
The Spartans (2-2, 1-1 Western Athletic) got 28 points and two
key interceptions in the fourth quarter of an astonishing
exhibition of big-play offense -- and a whole lot of horrendous
defense and special-teams play.
"This is one of the wildest things I've seen," San Jose State
coach Fitz Hill said. "The conventional rules of football did not
apply. You had to score to win."
Rice and San Jose State combined for 1,089 yards of total
offense, with the Owls (2-2, 1-1) running a school-record 100 plays
for 634 yards -- including 570 on 85 rushing plays while setting the
NCAA record for most points in a loss.
And to top every incredible development, the Spartans won it on
a big defensive play: Nunez's untouched return of Greg Henderson's
The 133 points surpassed the total from Middle Tennessee State's
70-58 victory over Idaho on Oct. 6, 2001, and was just one short of
the Division I-A mark for any game set in Arkansas' 71-63,
seven-overtime victory over Kentucky on Nov 1, 2003.
The teams also fell just shy of the NCAA regulation record for
all divisions, set in Division III North Park's 104-32 victory over
North Central, Illinois, on Oct. 12, 1968.
The 19 touchdowns also broke the Division I-A record of 18 that
had been accomplished twice, most recently by Middle Tennessee and
Idaho in their 2001 game.
"It was just a great game back and forth for the fans to see,"
Rice coach Ken Hatfield said. "It's what the WAC is all about, a
lot of explosiveness."
The Spartans did it all with just 49 plays, controlling the ball
for less than 18 minutes and making the most of 211 yards on
kickoff returns, repeatedly setting up scoring drives.
"If anything, I was most disappointed with the big plays they
made in the kicking game -- those field position plays, those
momentum-changers," Hatfield said.
Dale Rogers, playing with a hyperextended left knee and a big
cut on his chin, passed for 359 yards and five touchdowns -- on just
10 completions -- after entering the game as the Spartans' third
Hill hoped to keep Rogers out because of his injuries, but Adam
Tafralis and Beau Pierce were ineffective early on.
"They came to me, and I said, 'If you want me to play, I'll go
in there and play," Rogers said.
Rogers eventually rallied the Spartans from an early 27-point
deficit and a 14-point hole with eight minutes to play.
Rice used two quarterbacks in its option offense, with Greg
Henderson and Joel Armstrong combining for 276 yards rushing and
four scores. Marcus Rucker added 201 yards rushing and two more
Rice took a 63-49 lead on Armstrong's 44-yard scoring run with
8:38 left, but Rufus Skillern caught his second TD pass from Rogers
just 87 seconds later, scoring from 44 yards out.
With 3:22 left, Eric Wilson recovered Armstrong's fumble at the
Rice 18, and Rogers scored on a 1-yard plunge moments later. San
Jose State committed a personal foul after the play, but Jeff Carr
still drilled the extra point from 35 yards out to tie it at 63-63.
Nunez then intercepted a terrible pass down the right sideline,
scoring untouched to give San Jose State its first lead of the
"I was in the right place at the right time," Nunez said.
"The quarterback rolled out and took me right where he was
Rice then drove to the San Jose State 28, but Bobby Godinez
intercepted Armstrong's pass with 31 seconds left to preserve the
win. The Spartans, whose program is thought to be in danger of
discontinuation thanks to budget problems and low attendance,
celebrated wildly with the students and band.
Just 4,093 fans attended the game.
Trestin George scored on a 77-yard reverse punt return for the
Spartans, and Brian Watje made the first of his two TD receptions
on a pass from running back Lamar Ferguson.
Rice scored on its first five possessions, taking a 34-7 lead
with 299 total yards before the second quarter was five minutes
old. Henderson rushed for three scores, including a 39-yard
scramble and an 11-yard run after Tyson Thompson's fumble.
But San Jose State rallied with 141 yards and two scores on its
next two plays from scrimmage. Thompson ran for a 74-yard score,
and after Henderson threw an interception, Rogers hit John
Broussard all alone down the sideline for a 67-yard TD catch.
Broussard made a 64-yard reception shortly before halftime,
setting up Watje's 13-yard TD catch on a pass from Ferguson.
Chad Price extended Rice's lead to 49-35 late in the third with
a 15-yard interception return for a score.