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San Diego State Avoids Upset, Outlasts UNLV 28-20

#22 SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (10-1, 6-1) vs UNLV REBELS (2-9, 2-5)

The Aztecs got away with a dramatic 28-20 win in Las Vegas Friday night as QB Lucas Johnson threw for 192 yards and three touchdowns, keeping the Mountain West Championship hopes alive.

SDSU’s 11 point lead at halftime was just enough to keep the Rebels out of reach as the Aztecs improve to 10-1, 6-1 Conf., their best start to a season since 1977.

According to the College Football AP Poll, the Aztecs have now reached No. 22 in the nation which is the sixth time they have been ranked this season, the most in program history.


The first score of the game was in the first quarter as UNLV place kicker Daniel Gutierrez kicked a 21 yard field goal, capping a 10 play, 72 yard drive. Once the Rebels got back out on the field, Aztec LB Andrew Aleki intercepted UNLV QB Cameron Friel and returned it for a touchdown.

Friel left the game due to injury in the first half, giving the ball to Justin Rogers who really stepped it up. Rogers finished with 15 of 21 completions for 305 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Friel finished with 6 completions on 13 attempts for 67 passing yards and one interception.

The second quarter was busy as Justin Rogers found UNLV WR Zyell Griffin for a 43 yard touchdown pass, taking the lead 10-7. It didn’t take long for the Aztecs to answer though, as they went on to score two touchdowns within 3 minutes.

With 2:30 left in the second quarter, Aztec QB Lucas Johsnon hit Jesse Matthews in the endzone to make the score 14-10. Two minutes later, with 5 seconds remaining in the half, SDSU got the ball back and was able to drive 54 yards including a 24-yard touchdown pass, again to Jesse Matthews making it 21-10 at the half. The Rebels had the lead for less than 4 minutes in the second quarter.

The third quarter was the comeback the Rebels needed, though it wasn’t enough. QB Justin Rogers found Giovanni Fauolo Sr. for an 8-yard touchdown pass, capping off a 6 play, 94 yard drive. Momentum stayed with them as the UNLV defense shut out the Aztecs in the third quarter and added a field goal with 1:13 left from 22 yards out by Daniel Gutierrez, making it 21-20.

Despite a fourth quarter interception by the Rebels defense, they couldn’t capitalize. After trading possessions in the fourth quarter, the clock winded down as SDSU had just a one point lead. With 3:33 left in the game, the Aztecs put in the dagger with a 7 yard touchdown pass from Lucas Johnson to Jesse Matthews, which was their third touchdown connection on the night.

Matthews finished with 9 receptions for 75 yards and three touchdowns.

UNLV finished with more total yards (394) than SDSU (290) yet could not pull off the upset. The Rebels also gained just 22 yards on the ground on 26 attempts, which was expected against the Aztec defense that is the best rushing defense in the Mountain West.


For the final game of an historic season, the San Diego State Aztecs will face the Boise State Broncos in a gritty Mountain West matchup on Saturday, November, 21st at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA. The Aztecs will look to end the season 11-1, their second best start in program history.