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

Aztec football returns to San Diego as Aztec scrimmage opens Snapdragon Stadium

Aztec football’s dress rehearsal ends 995-day streak without SDSU football in San Diego
Jesse Gordon
Senior wide receiver Jesse Matthews attempts to secure a catch over sophomore cornerback Noah Avinger. Aug. 20, 2022.

It had been 995 days since the Aztecs last played a football game in San Diego. The typical cheers and chants were instead replaced with the sounds of construction as Aztec football caravanned to Carson for two consecutive seasons while their new home was in the making. 

The Aztecs’ scrimmage at their brand new field, Snapdragon Stadium, on Aug. 20 ended the streak and finally allowed San Diego State fans to cheer on their Aztecs at home. Senior wide receiver Jesse Matthews described the chance to play in his hometown’s new stadium as “surreal.”

“I was talking to some other guys, and I said, ‘I can’t believe we are actually back here in San Diego’,’” Matthews said.  “Being back home, seeing fans here, the atmosphere and this beautiful stadium we have, it’s exciting.” 

Jesse Matthews is tackled
Senior wide receiver Jesse Matthews is wrapped up by a defender. He finished with four catches for 64 yards. Aug. 20, 2022. (Jesse Gordon)

The scrimmage served as a dress rehearsal for the Aztecs first game of the season on Sept. 3 against the University of Arizona. 

“It was good to be out here at the stadium and get acclimated,” said Head Coach Brady Hoke. “It’s a great venue obviously so it was good to be here. Very nice to have families in attendance, I know our guys really enjoyed that part of it.” 

Hoke was pleased with the energy the team brought, particularly in the first half. 

“There were a lot of young guys who flew around,” Hoke said. “I thought that there were a lot of guys who we needed to get on tape a little bit more and that’s why some guys didn’t play a whole lot. We wanted to hold (senior quarterback transfer Braxton Burmeister) to a minimum, but I think we accomplished what we wanted.”

Fans only saw a glimpse of Burmeister as the local product played only the opening drive. However, Burmeister showcased his arm and chemistry with Matthews as they connected on a deep 39-yard pass to put the Aztecs in scoring range. 

“He’s been my lifting partner ever since he arrived on campus,” Matthews said when asked about the chemistry with his quarterback. “Building that friendship is really helping our chemistry. I think we are going to keep growing; I saw some room for improvement but we’re off to a good start.” 

The offense struggled for most of the first half but finished the day with 24 points against the stout Aztec defense. One standout was junior receiver Brionne Penny who finished with three catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdown catches came from freshman quarterback Kyle Crum. 

Freshman quarterback Liu Aumavae led the Aztecs in passing going 11 for 15 for 97 yards while freshman wideout Phillippe Wesely II finished with 79 yards and five catches to lead the Aztecs in receiving. Freshman running back Cam Davis led the Aztecs on the ground, finishing the game with six rushes for 45 yards. 

Sophomore cornerback Jelani Whitmore is pulled to his feet after breaking up a pass. Aug. 20, 2022. (Jesse Gordon)

The scrimmage was spirited as offensive and defensive players chirped back and forth. Players had a chance to compete against their teammates in front of fans rather than on the practice field below the SDSU Sports Deck. 

For senior defensive lineman Jonah Tavai, one of his biggest competitors on the team is one he has been competing with all his life. His brother, senior defensive lineman Justus Tavai, transferred to spend his senior season in San Diego and the two were able to share the field for the first time at the college level. 

“We’re really big competitors. Neither of us want to lose to each other. I see him make a play, I’ll be happy, but I’ll be real mad too,” Tavai said with a smile. 

The Aztecs now will have had a little less than two weeks to make some final adjustments as they prepare for their season opener against the Arizona Wildcats. Following a successful scrimmage, Snapdragon Stadium will host its first real game day experience on Sept. 3. 

About the Contributors
Justin Cox
Justin Cox, '22-23 Sports Editor
Justin Cox (he/him) is a senior journalism major from Sonoma, California. He is excited to be a Co-Sports Editor of The Daily Aztec for the 2022-23 academic year. Previously, Cox was a sports section staff writer covering a multitude of Aztec sports including basketball, water polo, soccer and tennis. He is excited to head the sports section alongside Co-Editor Morgan Prickett with the hopes of providing fresh and engaging content for the student body. Before coming to The Daily Aztec, Cox spent time as an intern for the Sonoma Index-Tribune covering local news and was also published in the Sonoma Sun newspaper. Cox can often be found watching sports, running or going to the beach in his free time. 
Morgan Prickett
Morgan Prickett, '22-23 Sports Editor
Morgan Prickett (he/him/his) is a journalism major heading into his senior year. He was born in Libreville, Gabon and has lived in multiple countries before arriving here at SDSU. He is a soccer writer for the local news site East Village Times, the president of the National Association of Black Journalists chapter at SDSU, and also serves as the VP of External Relations on SDSU’s School of Professional Studies and Fine Arts College Council. If he’s not watching or playing sports, he’s most likely jamming out to music while preparing a home cooked meal in his kitchen. This year he is looking forward to bringing coverage to all sports at SDSU in the most entertaining way possible.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Aztec football returns to San Diego as Aztec scrimmage opens Snapdragon Stadium