STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Mike MacIntyre jumped all over the San Jose State sideline and onto the field when his Spartans stuffed Stepfan Taylor on fourth down to preserve a chance to win.
Turned out, they got three chances — and never came through.
For a program two years removed from a 1-12 record, San Jose State still put quite a scare into its south bay rival.
David Fales threw for 216 yards and a touchdown until Ed Reynolds intercepted his final pass, and San Jose State lost 20-17 to No. 21 Stanford in the season opener for both teams Friday night.
"Since we got our butts kicked here last year, we could have won every game since," said MacIntyre, in his third season. "So we're making progress. We're getting bigger, stronger and faster. We're making strides. But in no way, shape or form is this a moral victory. We're a better football team, but we have to finish it off."
If not for one right foot, San Jose State might have done just that.
Jordan Williamson kicked a career-long 46-yard field goal and the go-ahead score from 20 yards to save the Cardinal in its first game since No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck's departure.
Williamson, who missed three field goals — including a potential game-winner in regulation — in a 41-38 overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2, might have been the only one with a reason to hold his head down following that fantastic effort from both sides.
Now he might be the only Stanford player who should hold his head high after a shaky start this season.
"I feel like I finally put everything from the past in the past and now I can focus on the future," a smiling Williamson said. "It was a tremendous feeling."
Former backup Josh Nunes threw for 125 yards and a touchdown in his first start in place of Luck, the NFL's No. 1 overall draft pick. While the redshirt junior finished 16 for 26 with no interceptions, he struggled to move the offense when it counted and it almost cost the Cardinal (1-0) dearly.
"We were close to doing a lot of really good things tonight," Nunes said. "But close doesn't always win football games."
It usually loses them.
The Fales-Blake Jurich quarterback combo gave Stanford fits until De'Leon Eskridge fumbled in Spartans (0-1) territory late in the third quarter. That set up Williamson's tiebreaking kick, giving the redshirt sophomore a small stroke of redemption after months of public silence and tissues and tears back home.
"That shows the kind of person he is," said Stanford's Stepfan Taylor, who ran for 116 yards and a touchdown. "That's a lot of pressure, and missing them in the Fiesta Bowl you know all the pressure is going to be on him. He's cold blooded."
So was San Jose State's passing game.
Fales foiled many of Stanford's plans until Reynolds stepped in front of his pass with 71 seconds remaining to seal Stanford's victory. Jurich ran for 32 yards and a score.