SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS (3-0) vs UTAH UTES (1-2) RECAP
What. A. Game. The Aztecs win in *triple overtime, 33-31, extending their now 13 game non-conference win streak.
Despite blowing a two-touchdown lead in the 4th quarter sending the game into it’s first overtime, the Aztecs held on to beat their second PAC-12 opponent this year.
In the first overtime, both teams scored touchdowns. Aztec QB Lucas Johnson, who got his first start of the year, connected with WR Jay Rudolph on a 2 yard pass, while Utes QB Cameron Rising hit Jaylen Dixon for a much needed 25 yard touchdown pass.
In double overtime, both teams missed field goals which sent it into triple overtime. In college football, once the game reaches triple overtime, teams take turns attempting 2 point conversions. Aztecs went first and got tricky with it, absolutely nailing a Philly Special with WR Jesse Matthews getting the pitch and tossing a touchdown pass to Lucas Johnson on a flat route in the endzone.
The Aztec defense, which was rather solid despite allowing 14 points in the 4th quarter, held off Utah’s attempt at a 2-point conversion which ended up being in the hands of a booth review. The call was reversed, making SDSU the winner.
Th Aztecs are now 50-2 in their last 52 games when rushing over 200 yards. They finished with 204, thanks to QB Lucas Johnson and RB Greg Bell.
Bell rushed for 119 yards on 33 carries, finding the endzone twice in the third quarter. He has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his first three games of the season. For Johnson, he scrambled 8 times for 87 yards, averaging 10 yards per carry.
The pass game was rather non-existent for the Aztecs, though, as Lucas Johnson completed 10 passes on 19 attempts for just 44 yards. His lone passing touchdown came in double overtime, which was the 2 yard pass to WR Jay Rudolph.
For the Utes, they had two QB’s throw for over 100 yards. Senior Charlie Brewer started the game, completed 14 passes on 26 attempts for 104 yards, but he threw an interception. That interception was by Senior Tayler Hawkins who returned it for 34 yards. That was Hawkins’ third INT in his last five games.
Sophomore QB Cameron Rising then took over, completing 19 passes on 32 attempts and threw 3 touchdowns.
Rising found three different receivers for touchdowns including Britain Covey, Jaylen Dixon and Theo Howard. Rising saved the game for the Utes sending the game into overtime giving his squad a chance, but couldn’t convert when needed to at the end.
Despite a great passing game for the Utes, they couldn't get much going on the ground against a tough Aztec run defense. Top rusher for Utah was freshman Micah Bernard, who rushed for just 47 yards on 17 carries.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Senior Jordan Byrd, running back and return specialist for the Aztecs, returned a kick off for 100 yards to the house in the 2nd quarter. This was the first touchdown of the game for SDSU, tying the game up at 10 a piece.
This is the play of the game because once Byrd scored it fired up the team and the Aztecs scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter, bumping the score to 24-10.
Although the Aztec defense blew the 14 point lead in the 4th quarter, tying it up at 24 heading into overtime, this first three quarters were very well played. This was against a PAC-12 team that was once ranked #21 in the nation, so big time props to the Aztecs who could very well be going into conference play with a 4-0 record.
Moving forward, SDSU needs to hold the lead into crunch time and keep running the ball. As for the quarterback situation, Lucas Johnson and fellow Senior QB Jordon Brookshire have similar play styles. At this point, Head Coach Brady Hoke can start either one any given week and expect the same results. One thing is for sure; feed Greg bell.
For the Utes, Cameron Rising certainly outperformed teammate Charlie Brewer. For Rising to come in and throw 2 touchdown passes tying the game late into the 4th quarter, on top of one touchdown pass in double overtime, I would give him the start next week.
Utah finished with more total yards overall, 327 vs 248 for the Aztecs. The Utes will need to find an answer on the ground as well as getting stops early on defense.
UP NEXT FOR AZTECS
The San Diego State Aztecs will remain at home (Dignity Health Sports Park) to face the Towson Tigers.
The Aztecs and Tigers will be meeting for the first time. The game is set for Saturday, September 25th, at 12:30 pm PT. Towson had its 2020 season canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic; they were 7-5 in its most recent campaign in 2019.
The game will be San Diego State’s final non-conference contest of the season as they attempt to extend their 13 game non-conference win streak.