MINNEAPOLIS (CBS/AP) — San Jose State quarterback David Fales was as good as he’s ever been in the first half against Minnesota, using pinpoint accuracy to hit big play after big play and keep the Spartans in the game.

When Fales and the high-flying offense slowed down just a little bit in the second half, the Golden Gophers ran away with the game. Now that top receiver Noel Grigsby could be out for the season because of a knee injury, Fales will have even more responsibility on his shoulders.

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Fales threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns in San Jose State’s 43-24 loss to Minnesota on Saturday.

But Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner rushed for 151 yards and four touchdowns and David Cobb added 125 yards rushing and two scores as the Golden Gophers dominated the time of possession, 40:38-18:58.

Fales, who is projected by some scouts to be a first-round draft pick threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and the Spartans went into the locker room trailing 20-17.

“We felt like we could do whatever we want,” Fales said.

But the Spartans also left some yards and points on the board with two curious calls deep in Minnesota territory. They twice had third-and-5 or shorter inside the Minnesota 20 in the first half, but each time called for a running play that failed to get the first down rather than putting the ball in the hands of their strong-armed quarterback.

They were stuffed on fourth-and-1 from the 15, and the Gophers (4-0) grinded out a 10-play drive with all running plays to take a 7-0 lead.

“I’m kind of a go for it guy,” Spartans coach Ron Caragher said. “And maybe that sometimes hurts in the bigger picture, but we did go for it and they got us. I’ll see where the hole was if we hit it the right point and all that, but you have to credit them, they stepped up and stopped us.”

Fales came right back, showcasing that NFL arm for a national television audience. He unleashed a perfectly placed deep ball over Chandler Jones’ right shoulder for a 76-yard touchdown pass. It was effortless, just a flick of the wrist sent the ball whistling right over cornerback Derrick Wells’ outstretched arms to cut the deficit to 13-10.

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On third-and-4 from the Minnesota 15, another running play was called, forcing the Spartans to settle for a field goal early in the second quarter.

“That’s been the last couple of games,” Fales said. “We get down in the red zone and can’t score. We just have to finish. You have to have that mindset and just want it more, just be smart. We got down there and they switched it up a little bit. They gave us a good look and had a good defense on.”

Jones had seven catches for 197 yards and three touchdowns, but he also lost a fumble deep in Minnesota territory. Fales threw two interceptions off tipped balls, including one that Minnesota linebacker Aaron Hill returned to the Spartans 12-yard line. That turnover set up a 1-yard TD from Leidner for a 26-17 lead in the third quarter, and the Gophers never looked back.

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who missed the second half of last week’s game after suffering an epileptic seizure, challenged his defense in the locker room at halftime, and the Gophers responded.

“I said, ‘Look in that mirror before you go out there and make sure that you’re giving your best,'” Kill said. “I thought they took it up an extra gear and we got (Fales) out of rhythm.”

As the Gophers defense started to tighten, Fales didn’t have Grigsby to help him find a way out. Grigsby injured his knee in practice on Wednesday and is out indefinitely.

“Our offense had to take on a bigger role without a leader like that on your team,” Jones said. “It’s a big loss, but we’ve been through a lot of adversity. People having to step up and step in, play big roles. It’s something that we’re kind of used to now.”

Keith Smith had 21 tackles for the Spartans, but kicker Harrison Waid was ejected in the fourth quarter after a confrontation with Wells on an onside kick.

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