Aztecs Return With Big Win Against CSU

Special teams and defense make the difference

San Diego State's football program has not had a non-winning record since 2009, when they went 4-8. A loss to Colorado State on Saturday would have snapped that streak, dropping them to 3-4 with one game left.

The Aztecs streak is still alive.

SDSU got not one, but two special teams touchdowns then held on with a fantastic defensive performance to beat the Rams 29-17 in their final home game (at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson).

San Diego State's offense that hasn't really worked since the first half of a loss to Nevada two weeks ago got on the board first. Jordan Brookshire, their 3rd starting QB in nine games, found Jesse Matthews for an 8-yard touchdown in the first quarter to put the Aztecs up 7-0.

CSU, which has dealt with COVID-19 issues, was nothing if not rested. They had not played in 23 days, a loss to Boise State. In that game the Rams had three kicks blocked and all of them ended up in touchdowns. They worked on protection during their long break ... but apparently not coverage.

After a field goal made it 7-3 Jordan Byrd returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead. The Aztecs defense forced a punt and BJ Busbee ran if back 90 yards for another score. The extra point was no good so SDSU led 20-3, scoring 13 points without their offense even stepping on the field.

The Rams got back into it with a couple of impressive drives. Marcus McElroy scored on runs of 1 and 37 yards so SDSU led 23-17 at the break.

In the 2nd half the Aztecs offense continued to struggle, going scoreless in the 3rd quarter. The good news is their defense, one of the best in the nation, also pitched a 3rd quarter shutout.

SDSU got a 1st and goal at the 4 yard line but three straight runs couldn't get them in the end zone so Matt Araiza kicked a short field goal to pump the lead up to 26-17 and once again, the seasoned secondary stepped up.

Darren Hall, who took an interception back for a touchdown a week ago at Colorado, vultured another one. Hall jumped a route in Rams territory that led to another field goal. With less than four minutes to play Tayler Hawkins picked off a pass to put the game to rest.

SDSU finishes its regular season next week in Provo, UT, against BYU. The Cougars suffered their first loss of the year, 22-17, at undefeated Coastal Carolina on Saturday.

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