Two big first-quarter plays were all San Jose State needed Saturday to defeat Cal State Long Beach, 21-10, in a Big West Conference game marred by penalties, ragged plays and a brawl.
Less than three minutes into the game, tailback Sheldon Canley ran 65 yards for a touchdown, San Jose’s longest touchdown run in eight years. Then with 5:18 left in the opening period, quarterback Matt Veatch and Tony Jeffery combined on an 89-yard scoring pass play, second-longest in school history.
After that, all the 49ers could do before a Veterans Stadium homecoming crowd of 3,782 was make the game close. They fell to 3-5 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
San Jose improved to 3-3 and 2-0 but did not impress its coach.
“We played so poorly,” Claude Gilbert said. The Spartans were penalized 13 times for 147 yards.
Of little consolation to Long Beach was its edge in total yards, 447-426.
“We’d get going, then stall again,” said quarterback Paul Oates, who had three passes intercepted. “I don’t really believe we thought we could win this game.”
Oates, who threw for 348 yards, had a 44-yard pass dropped in the end zone by Sean Foster.
That wasn’t the only missed opportunity.
A blocked punt by Marc Tourville gave the 49ers a first down at the four-yard line and chance to tie the score at 7-7. But Reggie Webb was stopped on the one on fourth down.
Trailing 14-3 at halftime, Long Beach scored on its first possession of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 14-10. Oates started the 80-yard drive with a 39-yard pass to Derek Washington and a 14-yard pass to Foster.
But with Oates being constantly harassed by the Spartans’ defensive line, the 49ers didn’t threaten again.
Canley, who gained 164 yards in 29 carries, scored another touchdown on a two-yard dive with 8:18 left in the third quarter to make it 21-10.
The brawl came in the fourth quarter after Jeffery, who had run a reverse, was tackled in front of the San Jose bench. Several fights broke out, including one between 49er players and San Jose assistant coach Rick Rasnick. The melee eventually reached the running track near the corner of the end zone before order was restored.