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 comeback after 14-10 victory over UNLV

SDSU recovers to maintain its Mountain West status against the Rebels
Isabella Biunno
Holding the ball to his chest, junior running back Kenan Christon falls to the ground after a tackle at the UNLV football game on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.

In the excitement of homecoming week at San Diego State University, the Aztecs (5-4) triumphed over the UNLV Rebels (4-5) with a final score of 14-10, adding another win to their all-time record (22-10) against the UNLV football team. 

The Aztecs and Rebels have a long history of encounters, as this game marked their 24th match-up in consecutive seasons. In addition, the two teams have now faced one another 32 times which is the most out of all teams in the Mountain West Conference. The Rebels’ defeat now makes SDSU undefeated against UNLV in the last four games. 

With the Rebels coming off of a three-game losing streak followed by a bye week, all eyes were on the Aztecs in Snapdragon Stadium. SDSU has been successful shutting down teams that have not played well earlier in the season with victories against Idaho State (38-7) and Hawaii (16-14). The Aztecs looked to pounce on the Rebel’s indolence, in hopes of turning their season around after their devastating loss to Fresno State (32-28). 

“You know last week was obviously a heartbreaker,” senior wide receiver Jesse Matthews said. “But you have to learn from those experiences and you know, just see that it’s in the good and in the bad times, and see those obstacles as building blocks and not something that’s going to get in your way and stop you from persevering.” 

SDSU’s comeback didn’t occur right away, as a rushing touchdown in the first quarter by junior running back Kenan Christon was negated due to a holding penalty on senior offensive linemen, Alama Uluave. With 1:09 remaining in the quarter, senior quarterback Jalen Mayden felt the pressure to score early. After the holding call, Mayden’s intended pass to junior wide receiver Brionne Penny was intercepted by UNLV’s junior defensive back Ricky Johnson in the end zone, halting the Aztecs’ drive.

Nevertheless, the Aztec football team came back and struck first early in the second quarter. A  28-yard pass from Mayden to Matthews, landed Matthews on the Rebel’s 12-yard line before advancing into the red zone. This touchdown was vital for the SDSU football team, as they began to gain back their confidence. 

“We always want to finish on the field and that’s something that we’ve been preaching,” Matthews said. “Our defense worked so hard for us, and they came up with so many big plays that we want to reward them as an offense.” 

Following the Aztec score, UNLV sophomore quarterback Doug Brumfield fumbled the ball on his own 41-yard line. In response to the fumble, Mayden and the Aztec offense struggled to capitalize, leaving senior kicker Jack Browning with an attempt to boot a 50-yard field goal. Browning, who injured his left leg against Fresno State, missed with a short kick to the left side of the field, marking Browning’s first of two missed field goal attempts during the game. Aztec football head coach Brady Hoke explained it would have been best to have punted the ball in that situation, without doubting Browning’s injury. 

“I wouldn’t use him if he didn’t feel good…” Hoke said. “I know he could hit it, but probably should have punted it.” 

Further into the quarter, Aztec senior safety Cedarious Barfield forced sophomore wide receiver Ricky White to fumble after catching a bullet from Brumfield, allowing SDSU to recover the ball on their 28-yard line. But the Aztecs failed to capitalize, as Mayden took his third sack of the game on third down, losing four yards on SDSU’s drive. To finish the half, both teams battled back and forth until time ran out, neither able to score. 

To start the second half, Mayden drove the Aztecs to Nevada’s 37-yard line after completing a 13-yard pass to Matthews. Moments later, the Aztecs struck the Rebels with a 24-yard completion from Mayden to junior tight end Mark Redman. Feeling no pressure from UNLV, Redman finished the job to make it 14-0. 

Shortly after SDSU doubled their lead, UNLV pushed downfield making it to SDSU’s 20-yard line. In hopes of scoring their first points of the game, Brumfield hurled the ball to connect with junior wide receiver Kyle Williams in the far left side of the red zone. Instead, Brumfield’s throw ended in the hands of sophomore Dezjon Malone for an Aztec interception. However, the Aztecs were unsuccessful in their counterattack after Malone’s pick. 

Later in the third quarter UNLV gained momentum in another drive, connecting a long pass from Brumfield to senior receiver Nick Williams for 70 yards. Williams left the Aztec defense in the dust for UNLV’s first score. The touchdown put the Rebels on the board, but they still trailed the Aztecs 14-7.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Brumfield threw his second interception in the end zone, again intended for Williams. Aztec senior cornerback Dallas Branch came away with the ball, securing his first interception of the season. 

However, SDSU once again struggled to drive downfield, leaving Browning to punt. During the attempt, Browning fumbled the ball and recovered at SDSU’s 14-yard line, giving UNLV a prime opportunity to score. However, Brumfield and the offense’s takeover went south, as they were unable to find the end zone. The Rebels settled for a field goal from 29 yards, creeping closer to SDSU at 14-10.  

In the final six minutes of the quarter, SDSU sparked a drive with sophomore running back Jaylon Armstead, rushing two plays for a combined 28 yards. Short plays thereafter led SDSU into UNLV’s territory closer to the red zone. With about a minute left, the Aztecs played it safe, holding onto their four-point lead. Running the play clock down, Mayden kneeled the ball at the UNLV 15, indicating the Rebels’s defeat and advancing SDSU’s football team’s record to 5-4. 

The Aztecs’ performance against the Rebels uplifted the team’s spirit and also the fan’s. The Aztecs return to Snapdragon Stadium for a tougher match against the San Jose State football team (6-2) on Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. 

About the Contributor
Isabella Biunno, '23-24 Photo Editor
Isabella Biunno (she/her/hers) is a photographer for The Daily Aztec. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada where she was a part of yearbook and publications for nearly six years. She is a first-year Psychology major with an emphasis in neuroscience, and she plans to go to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. She loves photography, editing, and creating, and she can’t wait to continue shooting content for the DA. One thing she is passionate about outside of photojournalism is being involved in the disability/Autism community. She is a part of SDSU’s Adapted Athletics club, and she worked as an Instructor at a company back home called Inclusion Fusion where she was able to work with people with disabilities. Although her career-related passions fall in the healthcare field, she enjoys taking pictures and covering photo events just as much. She looks forward to expanding her experience as a photographer as well as capturing some astounding shots this year.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Aztecs comeback after 14-10 victory over UNLV