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

Football ends the season with 33-18 win versus Fresno State in Hoke’s final game as head coach

The Aztecs snapped a four-game losing streak to claim the Old Oil Can over the Bulldogs on senior night
Cameron Brossart
San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke is acknowledged as the Aztec Honor Warrior before his final game. Hoke was the first head coach to lead SDSU to a bowl game after the year 2000.

San Diego State closed the season out on top in the battle for the Old Oil Can with a triumphant 33-18 victory over Fresno State on Saturday night at Snapdragon Stadium.

The Aztecs (4-8, 2-6 Mountain West Conference) amassed 16 straight points in the first half to take control, and hand Brady Hoke a win in his final game as head coach.

The Scarlet and Black dominated the time of possession at 40:51 to Fresno State’s 19:09 and controlled an edge in rushing yards 226-to-151 to help hand the Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4) their third consecutive loss.

With SDSU’s rushing total, they moved to 56-2 in their last 58 games when gaining 200 yards or more through the ground.

Kicker Jack Browning tied a school record for the most field goals in a game with four, while quarterback Jalen Mayden put the Aztecs out ahead for good with a 70-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Mayden also completed 17 of 26 passes through the air for 189 yards and one touchdown to go along with 96 yards on the ground on 14 attempts. Mayden was most successful in third-down situations as he completed five of seven third-down passes for 85 yards.

Prior to the game, the Aztecs held a special ceremony honoring the 17 seniors on the team, amongst them Browning and Mayden along with others such as linebacker Cooper McDonald, tight end Mark Redman, and cornerback Noah Tumblin.

On their opening possession, the Aztecs couldn’t muster much to begin as they were called on a false start penalty and an 8-yard sack. Fresno State then found quick success on their first drive when running back Malik Sherrod bursted through an opening up the middle and cut left down the sideline for a 62-yard touchdown to give Fresno State an early 7-0 lead.

San Diego State celebrates Jalen Mayden’s 70 yard touchdown during the second quarter of their 33-18 win over Fresno State on Saturday, Nov. 25 at Snapdragon Stadium. (Cameron Brossart)

Defensive end Garret Fountain noted how the defense prepped following the quick score early in the game.

“Get that first play of the game out, jitters out, with mistakes here and there,” Fountain said. “We got back to the sideline, regrouped, got our plan together, and said ‘let’s go.’”

SDSU responded on its next couple of drives with a pair of field goals from Browning from 32 and 39 yards. Browning’s second kick was set up by a 29-yard interception return by safety Marcus Radicllife at the Bulldog 34-yard-line on a fourth-and-two pass at the Aztec 40-yard-line.

Following a series of punts on the next three possessions, SDSU faced third-and-two from its own 30-yard line when Mayden called his own number and ran 70 yards untouched down the left sideline to give the Aztecs a 13-7 advantage they wouldn’t give up the remainder of the game.

“Everybody crashed in thinking it was the same run play we always do and I pulled it and there was nobody there,” Mayden said, who had the longest rush of his career on the touchdown.

San Diego State forced a three-and-out on the Bulldogs’ next possession, and following a short field punt, Browning split the uprights from 41 yards to increase the lead to 16-7 at 2:58 in the second quarter. The Bulldogs trimmed the margin in score to 16-10 before the half with a 43-yard field goal by kicker Dylan Lynch as time expired.

After a shanked punt from Fresno State’s first possession of the third quarter, the Aztecs started their drive at their own 49 to their benefit. Nine plays later, running back Jaylon Armstead forced his way into the end zone from a yard away to give the Scarlet and Black a sizeable 23-10 lead with 8:55 remaining in the quarter.

As the fourth quarter began, Browning booted a 33-yard field goal on the second play of the period to cap off a 14-play, 59-yard drive that took 7:23 off the clock. Mayden put the Aztecs in field goal range after a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Baylin Brooks down the left sideline to the Bulldog 34 on a third-and-eight.

Fresno State moved the ball downfield on their possession — going 75 yards in 10 plays — after only gaining 28 yards and netting one first down in the previous third quarter. Sherrod bursted in the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown, and following a successful two-point conversion, the Bulldogs narrowed the gap to 26-18.

San Diego State senior defensive lineman Daniel Okpoko carries around the Old Oil Can after the Aztecs’ win over Fresno State. It’s the first time SDSU has held the rivlary trophy since the 2019 season. (Cameron Brossart)

However, SDSU put together another time-consuming drive to mark the game out of reach, concluded by a 5-yard toss from Mayden to running back Leo Kemp with 2:54 remaining in the game. The Aztecs chewed up 7:06 on the clock on 14 plays, going 78 yards downfield, marked by one third-down and fourth-down conversion.

Leading up to the score, Mayden connected with tight end Cameron Harpole for 5 yards on third-and-two from the SDSU 44 before Armstead bulldozed his way for a game-clinching first down on a critical fourth-and-one from the Fresno State 30-yard-line.

The Aztecs ran the rest of the clock out following a turnover on downs from the Bulldogs, and the team collectively sprinted across the field to claim possession of the Old Oil Can to regain control in the series after a two-year victory drought.

In addition to Mayden’s rushing production, Armstead also finished with 41 yards on 15 attempts on the ground, while running back Cam Davis gained 40 yards on eight carries.

Redman led the Scarlet and Black with four receptions for 40 yards, while Harpole totaled 46 yards off three catches. On the defensive side of the ball, Tumblin collected two pass breakups and five solo tackles. Rattcliffe, with his first interception, tallied six tackles as well.

Coach Hoke remarked how important the win was tonight.

“You always want to win… it’s great to win,” said Hoke, who had two stints, totalling six seasons, coaching the Aztecs to a combined 40-32 record.

Hoke, who posted an overall 105-90 record, noted if anything sank in during the game, and any ramping emotions before, during or following the matchup on Saturday night.

“Not really,” Hoke said. “There will be some more emotions.”

About the Contributor
Roman Aguilar, '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.