SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Nick Starkel threw two touchdown passes to tight end Derrick Deese Jr. in the third quarter and San Jose State beat Air Force 17-6 on Saturday night in the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams. Bailey Gaither tied his career high with eight receptions for 110 yards for the Spartans.
Starkel completed 22 of 29 passes for 226 yards with one interception. It was the senior's 11th career start but his first for the Spartans. Starkel made five starts for Texas A&M and then five starts for Arkansas before joining San Jose State as a graduate transfer.
Deese, a senior who went into the game with two career touchdowns, had TD catches of 7 and 11 yards, the latter of which gave San Jose State (1-0, 1-0) a 14-0 lead with 43 seconds left in the third quarter. Bailey Gaither tied his career high with eight receptions for 110 yards.
It was the latest start to a football season in San Jose State's history. The last time the Spartans began a season in October was in 1936.
Air Force (1-1) had its nine-game win streak — the third longest in program history — snapped.
Haaziq Daniels threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Patterson to trim the Falcons' deficit to 14-6 after a failed 2-point conversion attempt with 13:16 to play.
San Jose State, which closed out the 2019 season with a 17-16 victory over Fresno State, has won back-to-back games for the first time since 2014.
In accordance with local health and safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, fans were not permitted to attend the game.