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

Oil Slick: Aztecs let fourth quarter lead slip in 32-28 loss at Fresno State

Bulldogs stun SDSU with two touchdowns in 13 seconds over the final 1:09 to take top spot in West Division
Olivia Vargo
Senior Jack Browning kicks off against the University of Hawaii on Oct. 8.

Through three quarters the Old Oil Can looked ready to return to the Mesa for the first time since 2019.

Instead, the battle for it ended with San Diego State shocked as Fresno State scored the final 22 points of the game in a 32-28 loss on Saturday night at Valley Children’s Stadium in Fresno.

Senior Jalen Mayden accounted for four touchdowns — two passing and two rushing — but the Aztecs’ (4-4, 2-2) signal caller could only watch as the returning Mountain West Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Jake Haener orchestrated the comeback.

“We didn’t finish on both sides of the ball or in the kicking game,” head coach Brady Hoke said. “It stings, the guys in that room feel like crap and I promise you so do the coaches.”

The Fresno State (4-4, 3-1) senior quarterback Haener began the rally by finding senior wide receiver Zane Pope on a back corner fade for an eight-yard touchdown on the final play of the third quarter to trim the deficit to 28-17.

In the fourth quarter SDSU managed 32 yards of total offense on 15 plays, going 0-for-3 on third down. The final four Aztec possessions ended in a turnover on downs, a fumble inside their 15-yard line, a punt and an interception.

Fresno State drove 63 yards following the punt, capped when senior running back Jordan Mims burst a three-yard touchdown up the middle with 1:09 to play. Haener connected with Pope in the back of the endzone for the two-point conversion to make it 28-25.

The ensuing onside kick took a wild hop away from the first level of Aztec returners, which Pope recovered at the SDSU 37-yard line. Then senior wide receiver Niko Remigio caught a seven-yard hitch on the first snap of the drive and sprinted through the defense the rest of the way for a 37-yard touchdown that put the hosts ahead for good.

“The last two drives defensively we’ve got to be better, we’ve got to finish,” Hoke said.

San Diego State’s defense held Fresno State at bay for much of the game, recording a season-high seven sacks and holding the Bulldogs scoreless on four of eight red zone trips. Sophomore cornerback Noah Avinger and senior safety Patrick McMorris had interceptions in the endzone, while senior Cedarious Barfield blocked a field goal and the defensive line held on a fourth-and-one try.

The Aztecs outgained Fresno State 449-391 and held the Bulldogs to minus-three yards net rushing for the game. They held the lead for 47:00 despite turning the ball over six times, losing three fumbles and throwing two interceptions while being stopped on fourth down once.

“We’ve got to play better offensively, (we) did really well until the end of the first half and then we never really got back into rhythm,” Hoke said.

SDSU built a 21-10 halftime edge thanks to Mayden running for scores of 28 yards and one yard that sandwiched a 26-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Kenan Christon, his first score in Scarlet and Black. The lead pushed out to 18 points on senior wide receiver Jesse Matthews’ first touchdown catch of the season with 3:27 remaining in the third quarter.

Haener threw for a Mountain West season-high of 394 yards on 34 of 45 passing with three touchdowns, as Pope (10 catches for a game-high 143 yards and a touchdown) and Remigio (10 catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns) eclipsed the century mark receiving.

Mayden threw for 228 of his 291 yards in the first half, completing 19 of 24 while also rushing five times for 43 yards. Christon had two catches for 75 yards, while sophomore wide receiver Mekhi Shaw had five catches for 64 yards and senior Tyrell Shavers had four grabs for 66 yards.

The loss snapped a 30-game winning streak when the Aztecs held a lead going into the fourth quarter.

”We’ve got to learn from it and keep going,” Hoke said. “There’s still a lot of season and we’ve got a ton to play for.”

San Diego State hosts UNLV (4-4, 2-2) next in the homecoming game at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Snapdragon Stadium.

About the Contributors
Eric Evelhoch
Eric Evelhoch, '23-24 Sports Editor
Eric Evelhoch (he/him/his) is a senior media studies major who was born outside of Detroit, Michigan, and lived in Ventura County, California, for a decade-plus. He is a returning college student and transfer from Santa Barbara City College, where he served as Sports Editor for The Channels. Evelhoch is also a Sports Director for KCR College Radio, where he restarted play-by-play coverage post-pandemic. Currently, he serves as the play-by-play broadcaster for the SDSU ACHA DI hockey team and has filled in on the call for Aztecs sports on the Mountain West Network. His prior freelance experience includes print, digital, online video and audio-only, and broadcast radio formats covering football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer and volleyball.
Olivia Vargo
Olivia Vargo, '24-25 Photo Editor
Olivia Vargo (she/her/hers) is a first-year Television, Film, and New Media production major from Camas, WA. She loves photography and is excited to see what her future at SDSU holds. She was the team photographer for her local equestrian team all four years of high school and the photographer/student manager for her school’s varsity baseball team in the spring of her senior year. She loves music, art, animals, baseball (specifically the Dodgers), and California’s sunny weather. As a first-year Olivia hopes to gain lots of experiences with the Daily Aztec and explore what they have to offer.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Oil Slick: Aztecs let fourth quarter lead slip in 32-28 loss at Fresno State