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 let second quarter pull away in 35-10 loss at home, against UCLA

Pac-12 Bruins’ high-powered offense overpowered SDSU, totaling 550 total yards on offense to triumph over the Scarlet and Black
Isabella Biunno
San Diego State quarterback Jalen Mayden looks downfield as he faces pressure from two UCLA defenders during Aztecs 35-10 loss on Saturday Sep.9th at Snapdragon Stadium. Mayden had 196 yards passing along with a touchdown and three interceptions. (Isabella Biunno)

San Diego State couldn’t keep up with the big-play ability of the visiting UCLA Bruins in a messy 35-10 defeat on Saturday evening. 

The Bruins sustained a considerable edge in total offense (550-259), recording seven plays with over 20 yards to give the Aztecs their first loss of the season. After rushing for over 300 yards last week against Idaho State, SDSU gained just 63 yards on 33 attempts on the ground. 

Quarterback Jaylen Mayden finished the night 19 of 37 passing for 196 yards, but was intercepted three times by the Bruins’ defense and sacked twice before backup quarterback Tobin O’Dell entered the game late in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Mekhi Shaw was the Aztecs’ leading pass catcher gaining 54 yards on five receptions. 

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Zyrus Flaseu led the Scarlet and Black with 12 tackles, along with eight solo tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry. Safety Cedarious Barfield finished with seven tackles, while cornerback Dez Malone made six stops of his own. 

The game started in a defensive battle, including exchanged punts on the first four series, with both teams each netting only one first down. 

Soon after, the Bruins found success quickly on their third possession when wide receiver Josiah Norwood brought in a short play-action pass across the middle from quarterback Dante Moore to sprint past the Aztec defense for an 81-yard scoring touchdown at the 7:26 point of the first quarter. 

The Aztecs’ offense found life on the next drive as Mayden emphasized the short passing game, completing five of his six passes for 68 yards. Mayden found his rhythm on the drive, showing off his elusiveness in the pocket, as well as making the throws needed to get SDSU downfield. 

Mayden linked with Shaw on an 11-yard completion, before dropping a pass off to running back Martin Blake on a 20-yard catch and run to put the Scarlet and Black in UCLA territory. The drive was highlighted by a 21-yard reception to Shaw by the right pylon at the goal line to tie the score 7-7. The touchdown was Shaw’s first of the season, and put the Aztecs in position to compete with UCLA. 

“The play called was a hitch but it was press (coverage),”  said Shaw, who gained 54 yards along with one touchdown. “So I took it up, trusted the quarterback to make that throw, and it was a good back-shoulder catch.” 

The Bruins fired back, marching 75 yards down the field on seven plays, assisted by two Aztec pass-interference penalties that put UCLA just outside the Red zone. Shortly after the first play of the second quarter, the Bruins were facing a 4th-and-1 situation. Running back Carson Steele then scored a touchdown of his own on a sweep around the right end to put UCLA ahead for the rest of the game. 

SDSU gained only 11 yards on its ensuing drive and gave way for the Bruins to score in just three snaps to further extend their lead (21-7) as running back T.J. Harden burst through the middle to rumble his way 59 yards for a touchdown with 10:21 left in the quarter. 

 San Diego State looked to build momentum on their next drive after finding success through the air and on the ground. Aided by a 14-yard completion from Mayden rolling out of the pocket to his left, to find tight end Jay Rudolph and a pinball run from running back Kenan Christian of 16 yards, the Aztecs drove to the UCLA 27 on their next possession.

San Diego State running back Martin Blake rushes up the middle in the second quarter of the Aztecs 35-10 loss to UCLA on Saturday, Sept. 9th at Snapdragon Stadium. (Isabella Biunno)

On a 3rd-and-10 situation, Mayden lofted a pass to wide-open receiver Joshua Nicholson near the right corner of the end zone, but the ball slipped off the fingertips of the sophomore wide receiver to force SDSU to settle for a 44-yard field goal by kicker Jack Browning to cut the margin to 21-10 with 5:03 left in the first half. 

Following another trade of punts, the Bruins only needed 56 seconds to total 85 yards in seven plays, punctuated by a 24-yard touchdown pass from Moore to wide-open receiver Logan Loya that increased UCLA’s lead to 28-10 with 1:20 before halftime. Leading up to the touchdown, Moore connected with tight end Moliki Matavao to get the Bruins within scoring range before a no-huddle quick snap caught the Aztecs off guard on the touchdown play. 

Down by 18 points, the hard-luck Aztecs couldn’t capitalize on a golden opportunity at the 8:07 mark in the third quarter when linebacker Trey White recovered a Moore fumble short of the goal line. Following two running plays that were promptly shut down and stuffed, linebacker Darius Muasau intercepted a quick pass on third down from Mayden that bounced off the fingertips of running back Martin Blake in the endzone. 

After the turnover, UCLA marched 80 yards downfield in 12 plays, culminating in a 6-yard toss by Moore to running back Carsen Ryan out of the backfield for his third touchdown score of the game that closed out the night of scoring. 

Off the disappointing loss, head coach Brady Hoke spoke on the missed opportunities throughout the game and how the team looks to get better. 

“You look at the last four minutes of the first half, there were opportunities and we didn’t follow through,” Hoke said. “We gotta learn from this one because next week is just as difficult. We gotta coach better, then play better.”

San Diego State travels to the Pacific Northwest next weekend in its first road game when they take on Oregon State on Saturday, Sep.16 at Reser Stadium at 12:30 p.m.

About the Contributors
Roman Aguilar
Roman Aguilar, '24-25 Sports Editor, '23 -24 Sports Editor
Roman Aguilar (he/him/his) is a second-year journalism major with an emphasis in public relations from Stockton, California. Since he was little, he loved watching sports and being able to tell a good story out of an exciting game matchup. He joined the Daily Aztec in 2022 as a contributor and staff writer for the sports section, covering a multitude of sports including football, men's basketball, and water polo, before moving on to sports editor. Aguilar is also a blog writer for KCR College Radio, attending concerts and having the opportunity to cover shows and interview artists. When he isn't writing articles related to music or sports, you can see Roman going to local concert shows on a near-weekly basis and watching his favorite horror movies.
Isabella Biunno
Isabella Biunno, '24-25 Managing Editor, '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.