San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Aztecs defeat Boise State, punch ticket to Mountain West Conference Championship

Andrew Finley
SDSU’s defense shut out Boise State in the second half, recording four sacks, and three total interceptions in the Aztecs 27-16 victory.

In a season where every game was ‘the most important game of the season’, the San Diego State University football team answered the call week after week. When their spot in the Mountain West Conference Championship was on the line, the result was no different. 

The Aztecs (11-1, 7-1 MWC) woke up bright and early on Nov. 25 for their 9 a.m. primetime matchup against the Boise State Broncos (7-5, 5-3 MWC). After being down 16-3 midway through the second quarter, the Scarlet and Black flipped the script and prevailed, winning the game 27-16 and punching their ticket to the MWC Championship game. 

Junior wide receiver Jesse Matthews said comeback victories like this are what makes SDSU football as good as it is. 

“That is the great thing about this program – the mental toughness,” Matthews said. “Adversity is going to strike, but it is how you respond to it. We did a great job responding. ”

The game began with three straight three-and-outs before junior Matt Araiza missed a 48-yard field goal. The Broncos got the ball back and scored in a hurry — a six play, 69-yard drive was capped off by a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Hank Backmeier that gave Boise the first points of the game. 

An Araiza field goal on the ensuing drive cut the Broncos lead to 7-3. The following drive looked to be a spark for the Scarlet and Black after junior Patrick McMorris picked off Backmeier, and gave SDSU the ball back on BSU’s 41-yard line to end the first quarter. However, the Aztecs were stuffed by the Boise defense and were forced to punt. 

The Broncos again swiftly worked their way down the field, and capped off their 10 play, 80-yard drive with Backmeier’s second touchdown pass of the game to junior Khalil Shakir. Boise would miss their extra point try, but still increased their lead to 13-3. 

BSU would add on with a field goal after the Aztecs went three and out, and failed to convert on fourth down with a fake punt, giving the Broncos a 16-3 lead with 3:04 left in the second quarter. 

After several short drives, and with a 13 point deficit, it was clear the Aztecs’ offense needed to switch things up to get some sort of momentum. A nicked-up senior Lucas Johnson wasn’t getting the job done, so into the game came senior quarterback Jordon Brookshire — a four game starter who hadn’t played a snap since putting up a passer rating of 20.5 against San Jose State six games prior. 

The move to put Brookshire at quarterback caught many people off guard. What may have caught them more off guard was what came of it. 

Brookshire marched the Aztecs’ down the field en route to their first touchdown of the game — a 29-yard catch-and-run for Matthews capped off a five play, 78-yard drive for the Scarlet and Black. Brookshire was responsible for all 78 yards on the drive, completing three passes for 76 yards and rushing for the other two yards. The touchdown drive gave the Aztecs new life, and cut the deficit to 16-10. 

The SDSU defense forced the Broncos to punt, allowing Brookshire to go back to work with 28 seconds left in the half. Brookshire completed two passes for 36 yards, and put the Aztecs in field goal range. Araiza would sink his second field goal of the game, and cut BSU’s lead to three heading into the locker room. 

The Aztecs would receive the ball coming out of halftime, and got right to work. Brookshire and senior running back Greg Bell led the Scarlet and Black on an 11 play, 75-yard drive that took over five minutes off the clock. Bell rumbled his way into the endzone from two yards out on a fourth and one play to give the Aztecs their first lead of the game with a score of 20-16. 

BSU would give the ball right back on McMorris’  second interception of the game off a pass tipped by senior Caden McDonald. 

Brookshire and the SDSU offense got right to the point with a three play 43 yard drive that took just 36 seconds. Brookshire was again responsible for all 43 yards, including a 16 yard touchdown run that improved the Aztecs’ lead to 27-16. 

Both teams traded punts for the next six drives with neither team scoring any points in the fourth quarter. SDSU’s defense showed out, shutting out the high-scoring Broncos for the entire second half, sacking Backmeier four times and capping off their day with their third interception of the game by junior Dallas Branch. 

Senior Jonah Tavai — who had three sacks against BSU — said the message for the defense going into the second half was pretty simple. 

“Just play,  just play ball.” Tavia said. “We have our offense going good, and our defense is going to go out there and do the best that they can. We just told ourselves, and especially our younger ones who were playing, to go out there, have fun and play ball. That’s pretty much it.”

Brookshire would take his offense onto the field to take a knee and end the game. The Aztecs concluded their regular season flexing their muscles putting up 24 unanswered points against one of the powerhouse teams of the MWC, and securing their spot in the conference championship. 

Brookshire was the standout player in this game, coming in relief of Johnson and being the spark that led the Aztecs to victory. He finished the game going 11-15 for 190 passing yards along with nine carries for 56 yards and two total touchdowns. Head coach Brady Hoke said Brookshire was prepared, and understood the mission. 

“I told him (Brookshire) on Monday or Tuesday that we would probably have to count on him on Friday,” Hoke said. “He understood that he had been preparing very well, and it came to fruition.”

The Aztecs will face the Utah State Aggies (9-3, 6-2 MWC) at Dignity Health Sports Park next Saturday at noon in the MWC Championship, where the Scarlet and Black look to win their 22nd conference championship in program history. 

About the Contributor
Andrew Finley, '21-22 Assistant Sports Editor
Andrew Finley is 22 years old and was born and raised in Ramona, Calif. where he resides today. He is a junior who transferred from Grossmont College in fall 2020 with an associate's degree in journalism. During that time, Finley was an assistant football coach for his alma mater Ramona High School. He was hired straight out of high school as the youngest assistant coach on the staff. Finley is now an undergraduate journalism student with aspirations of being a professional sports reporter/analyst once he graduates.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Aztecs defeat Boise State, punch ticket to Mountain West Conference Championship