SAN JOSE -- San Jose State finally figured out how to get off to fast start.
The Spartans allowed Colorado State to get right back in the game but pulled away for a 40-20 victory Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
SJSU has a winning record for the first time since 2008, also the last time it started the season 2-1.
The Spartans scored touchdowns on the first two drives and never trailed. David Fales threw for career highs of 370 yards and three touchdowns, and receivers Chandler Jones, Noel Grigsby and Jabari Carr all topped 100 yards in the victory.
"We've been working on it, and we didn't do it the first two games," SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre said of starting fast. "I think that really got us going. It gave that offense a lot of confidence and gave our whole team a lot of confidence."
First-quarter woes cost SJSU in its season-opening 20-17 loss to Stanford, and a sluggish opening half put the Spartans in a hole in their 45-13 win over UC Davis last week.
Against the Rams, SJSU -- which hadn't scored in the first quarter this season -- came out on fire.
Fales threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Carr for the first score. A 51-yard pass from Fales to Grigsby set up the next touchdown, a 10-yard run by Tyler Ervin.
The defense fed off that, forcing punts on the Rams' first two drives.
"Whenever you have a lead on a team, it takes the pressure off the defense," said linebacker Vince Buhagiar, who had 11 tackles
CSU gained momentum in the second quarter with a 58-second scoring drive. Quarterback Garrett Grayson completed three passes for 59 yards, then scrambled 15 yards around the left end for a touchdown.
After a Spartans punt, the Rams drove 80 yards, with Grayson hitting Kivon Cartwright on a 28-yard pass for a touchdown. A bad snap on a two-point conversion attempt kept the score at 14-13.
SJSU took a 17-13 lead into halftime when freshman Austin Lopez made a 26-yard field goal.
The Spartans controlled the action in the third quarter, holding the ball for 12 minutes, 20 seconds and outgaining the Rams 150-14. SJSU added to the lead when Fales hit Carr for 19-yard touchdown.
SJSU went on another long drive to close the third. The 12-play possession spilled over into the fourth quarter when Lopez made a 30-yard field goal.
The Spartans were close to finishing off the Rams when they forced a three-and-out. But a shanked punt by Pete Kontodiakos grazed the leg of SJSU's Travis Talianko, and CSU's Max Morgan recovered.
Two plays later, Grayson found Charles Lovett for a 38-yard touchdown pass to cut the Spartans lead to 27-20 with 11:27 to play.
SJSU dug deep into its playbook to answer. Fales handed off to De'Leon Eskridge, who gave to receiver Kyle Nunn on an apparent end around. He pulled up and fired to a wide-open Jones. A key downfield block from Grigsby sprung a 43-yard touchdown.
"It definitely reassured everybody that we had the momentum," Jones said.
Buhagiar recovered a fumble on CSU's next possession, and SJSU went for the knockout blow with Fales hitting Jones on a 51-yard touchdown to make it 40-20 with 7:56 left.
"Coach is always emphasizing that killer instinct," Fales said. "Attacking the entire time and don't ever let off."