Aztecs beat Wolf Pack

Jordan+Owen%2C+Senior+Staff+Photographer

Jordan Owen, Senior Staff Photographer

by Ethan Bailey

The San Diego State Aztecs defeated the University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack 51-44 in a thrilling overtime finish last Friday.

The Aztecs received the ball first in overtime and were able to quickly score a touchdown. Junior quarterback Quinn Kaehler avoided pressure from Nevada and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Eric Judge, who was open in the middle of the end zone.

[quote]”Obviously we wanted to get a touchdown and that’s what our main goal was,” Kaehler said. “We knew their offense had been moving the ball and a field goal really wouldn’t have been that secure.”[/quote]

Kaehler finished the night with an impressive stat line, completing 23 of 32 pass attempts for 286 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Aztecs seemed to be in command of the game, leading the Wolf Pack by 21 points. But Nevada fought hard to get itself back in the game. Less than three minutes into the fourth, Nevada junior running back Kendall Brock scored on a 3-yard touchdown run.

On the Aztecs’ ensuing drive, junior running back Adam Muema busted a 50-yard run up the middle to the Nevada 26 yard line, but SDSU was unable to capitalize as senior kicker Wes Feer missed a 39-yard field goal.

“In the fourth quarter, we moved the ball pretty well, but we didn’t score any points,” head coach Rocky Long said after the game. “So us not making a couple plays, not making a field goal, not catching the interception, allowed them to storm back, and you’ve got to give them credit.”

The Wolf Pack then drove down the field in 6:26 to score another short rushing touchdown, this time by sophomore running back Don Jackson.

With momentum building behind Nevada, the Aztecs needed to sustain a drive and run out the clock. SDSU was able to cover 33 yards in a little more than three minutes behind six runs and a 12-yard Kaehler pass, but the drive stalled when the Aztecs couldn’t convert on 4th and 5 at the Nevada 40-yard line.

Nevada junior quarterback Cody Fajardo then completed five of his next six passes, including a 30-yard pass to junior wide receiver Richy Turner. Turner also caught the 5-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 44.

[quote]”I thought we had him sacked four or five times,” Long said. “And he out ran the contained guy and got yardage with his feet or found a guy that was open and threw it. Their quarterback did a great job of getting out of trouble and making plays, especially in the fourth quarter.”[/quote]

The Aztecs started the second half by scoring 21 points in the third quarter thanks to a great defensive effort. Junior linebacker Derek Largent sacked Fajardo, causing him to fumble. The ball was recovered by junior linebacker Josh Gavert, who returned it to the Nevada 9-yard line. Muema scored a 9-yard touchdown run on the next play.

Fajardo fumbled again on Nevada’s ensuing possession and SDSU junior defensive lineman Sam Meredith recovered the ball at the Nevada 33-yard line. Five straight Aztec runs resulted in a touchdown by senior wide receiver Tim Vizzi. It was Vizzi’s first rushing touchdown of his career.

But perhaps the most impressive series by the Aztecs came at the end of the second quarter. The Wolf Pack was pinned deep in its own territory after receiving both personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the same play.

On fourth down, the ball was snapped well over the punter’s head and the play resulted in a safety. With 46 seconds remaining in the first half the Aztecs drove 64 yards in six plays, ending the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Dylan Denso. Junior wide receiver Ezell Ruffin made an athletic one-handed catch to put the Aztecs at the Nevada 25-yard line.

“We just went back to our two-minute drill,” Denso said. “Ezell had a big catch; I know Chad (Young) had one of those big runs. It’s not all one big play; it’s everyone making those smaller plays and then getting us back into the red zone and then finishing it off.”

Another notable Aztec performance came from Judge, who filled in for injured senior wide receiver Colin Lockett. Judge finished the game with six catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns.

[quote]”After winning this game, it feels like it’s the start,” Denso said. “With our goals and the way we started the season, this is the way we want to finish it.”[/quote]

 

Photo by, Jordan Owen, Senior Staff Photographer

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