Aztecs rally in fourth quarter for 31-23 victory over New Mexico


Abraham Jewett

Junior quarterback Ryan Agnew attempts to complete a pass during the second quarter of the Aztecs' 16-13 victory over SJSU on Oct. 20 at SDCCU Stadium.

by Aaron Tolentino, Assistant Sports Editor

San Diego State football overcame a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat University of New Mexico 31-23 on Saturday night at Dreamstyle Stadium.

The Aztecs (7-2, 4-1) trailed the Lobos (3-6, 1-4) 23-14 with 10:07 left in the game.

SDSU senior quarterback Christian Chapman returned to the field for the first time since suffering a knee injury on Sept. 8.

He found junior tight end Kahale Warring for a 19-yard score to cut the Lobos’ lead to 23-21.

Aztecs senior kicker John Baron II nailed a 32-yard field goal with 2:56 left to give SDSU a 24-23 lead.

The Lobos got the ball back and attempted a final comeback drive of their own.

SDSU junior cornerback Luq Barcoo made sure that didn’t happen as he notched his first career interception with 2:47 left to set up the score that added to the Aztecs’ lead.

With 1:52 left, junior running back Juwan Washington ended his first game back since Sept. 22 with a 50-yard touchdown run to extend the Aztecs’ lead 31-23.

The Washington run proved to clinch the game for SDSU as the Lobos were not able to strike back.

The fourth drive of the game saw an exodus of injured starters making their return: Chapman, Washington and junior fullback Isaac Lessard.

Despite Agnew’s fumble on the Aztecs’ first drive, the coaching staff wanted to keep Agnew in and purposely planned for Chapman to enter the game on the fourth drive.

Since coming in the second quarter, Chapman stayed in the rest of the way and completed 13 of 19 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.

SDSU offensive coordinator Jeff Horton said Chapman had a good feel for the game.

“He had good awareness,” Horton said. “He saw some blitzes where he had to check some plays. He was just really tuned in.”

With the coaching staff wanting to ease Washington back from his injured collarbone, sophomore Chance Bell started at running back to set up Washington’s first touches in the second quarter.

Washington finished the night with 11 carries and 95 yards, averaging 8.6 yards per carry. He also added touchdown runs of 34 and 50 yards.

Horton said Washington’s return brought a new energy to the team.

“He stepped up and made some big plays when we needed him to,” Horton said. “Just having his presence out there changes the team a lot.”

New Mexico’s offense was stifled all night and able to muster only 142 total yards.

SDSU neutralized the Lobos’ passing attack as quarterback Coltin Gerhart completed nine of 20 passes for 41 yards.

However, the Aztecs played a sloppy game offensively that allowed the Lobos to stay close throughout.

Sixteen of New Mexico’s 23 points came off three SDSU turnovers.

A fumble committed by SDSU junior quarterback Ryan Agnew was recovered for a touchdown on the team’s first drive of the game.

Attempting to improvise, Agnew was rolling to his right and decided to throw the ball away but not soon enough. New Mexico junior linebacker Alexander Vainikolo stripped Agnew and junior defensive lineman Adebayo Soremekun recovered the ball for a touchdown.

The second SDSU turnover was a Washington fumble from his own 32-yard line that led to a field goal that gave the Lobos a 10-7 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, SDSU freshman running back Jordan Byrd committed the Aztecs’ third turnover of the night.

Byrd fumbled deep on SDSU’s own 10-yard line. The play led to a New Mexico quarterback Coltin Gerhart passing touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Anselem Umeh, which put the Lobos on top, 16-14, at the end of the third.

The fumble was Byrd’s second fumble in the last two games. He coughed up a punt return against Nevada that led to a 34-yard field goal and increased the Wolf Pack’s lead to 28-24.

After 41 pass attempts against Nevada last week, the Aztecs reverted back to their run-first identity with 40 rushing attempts and 25 pass attempts against the Lobos.

Coming off a letdown in Nevada last week, SDSU head coach Rocky Long was aggressive early.

The Aztecs converted a 4th-and-1 that led to the their first touchdown, a five-yard run by sophomore running back Chase Jasmin, to tie the game 7-7 with 3:35 left in the first quarter.

The Jasmin touchdown was all the points the Aztecs could put up in the first half.

However, SDSU came alive offensively in the second half by scoring 24 points – three touchdowns and a field goal.

The victory was the Aztecs’ fourth fourth-quarter comeback of the season.

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