SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (7-0, 3-0) VS AIR FORCE FALCONS (6-2, 3-2)
Two rushing touchdowns and two field goals boost the Aztecs to a 20-14 win over Air Force, their first 7-0 start since 1975. They also improved their AP College Football Poll position, moving up from No. 22 to 21 and also No. 20 in the Coaches Poll. This is SDSU’s highest ranking since 2017 and they are now one of nine unbeaten teams left in the nation.
Air Force’s four-game win streak is snapped as the Falcons suffer their second conference loss. A slow start kept them out of reach of a win as 14 second half points were not enough against one of the best run defenses in the country.
Air Force’s slow start was the reason for the Aztecs’ seventh win in a row. The Falcons also committed two turnovers, a fumble and an interception that turned into points for the Aztecs. Mid-season All-American Matt Araiza had another notable game kicking two field goals, one for 22 yards in the first quarter and one for 51 yards in the second quarter following running back Kaegun Williams’ 1 yard touchdown run.
Both squads are run heavy, so neither threw for more than 100 yards. Surprisingly, neither team rushed for 200 yards, although Air Force was close, rushing for 192 yards. Quarterback Haaziq Daniels led all Air Force rushers with 50 yards on 9 carries.
Aztec running backs Chance Bell and Kaegun Williams both found the endzone, but did not surpass 50 yards rushing either. Bell finished with 50 yards on 8 carries which led all Aztec rushers. Williams finished with 34 yards on 10 carries. SDSU ended up using four running backs in total including special teams return man Jordan Byrd, who rushed for 32 yards on 6 carries.
Greg Bell, another SDSU running back rushed for 42 yards on 10 carries. Air Force’s Brad Roberts, the leading rusher in the Mountain West, was held to just 27 yards on 7 carries, his worst performance of the year.
As expected, quarterbacks on both sides saw little attribution to the game. Senior QB Lucas Johnson got the start for the Aztecs, completing 11 passes on 13 attempts for 72 yards. Air Force used two QB’s, Haaziq Daniels and Warren Bryan, who combined for 5 completions on 15 attempts. Bryan did connect with tight end Dalton King on a 13 yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
Despite not scoring in the second half, the Aztecs did a great job on defense again. The top rushing defense in the Mountain West conference held Air Force to 192 yards on the ground, which is much less than their average of 336.4 yards per game. The Falcons fought till the end, scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run capping off an 89 yard drive in the 4th quarter, but time ran out before they could get another chance on offense. Although they had more total yards on offense, it was too little too late for the Falcons against the winningest team in the Mountain West.
The Aztecs have proven that they are one of, if not the top team in the Mountain West. They are establishing themselves as the team to beat in the conference and are making a statement in the AP and Coaches Poll. The run game continues to show out and it will for the rest of the season.
Kicker and punter Matt Araiza did his thing again, going 2 for 2 on field goals and extra points. He also had another game with an 80 plus yard punt (81) and 50 plus yard field goal (51). Araiza had a 67 yard punt as well in this one and now has 14 punts for 60 or more yards, tying with Braden Mann of Texas A&M (2018) for most in a season in FBS history.
Air Forces’ game plan was shut down by the Aztec defense, which was arguably expected. Despite this, RB Brad Roberts and the Falcons should continue what they’ve been doing all year. They still lead the conference in rushing, but it was no match for the top rushing defense in the conference.
UP NEXT FOR AZTECS
Looking to stay undefeated and start the season 8-0 for the second time in program history, the #21 Aztecs return home to face the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday, October 30th at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA. Kick off is slated for 7:30 pm PT airing on CBS Sports Network.