Last night SDSU hosted the NIU huskies in a wild and entertaining game at SDCCU stadium. The game started with Juwan Washington taking the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, and we all thought that it would be smooth sailing after that. But on their first possession of the game, NIU roared back and scored in just over three minutes when Christian Blake caught a 34-yard touchdown pass. After their first drive, it became clear that NIU came to San Diego to give the Aztecs all they could handle.
After a punt, the Aztecs defense recovered a fumble inside the Huskies 35-yard line, and in just one play, Christian Chapman found Rashaad Penny on a perfectly executed wheel route for a 33-yard touchdown. But NIU just wouldn’t go away. On their ensuing possession, Christian Blake found the end zone again, this time for a 10-yard touchdown. The first quarter ended with the game tied 14-14.
The second quarter was a frustrating one for the Aztecs offense as they had very little success, but again their defense came up with a big play when they needed it most. With nine minutes left before halftime, and after giving NIU 30 yards in penalties on a single drive, freshman DB Tariq Thompson picked off NIU QB Daniel Santacaterina inside the Aztecs’ 20 and took it back 83 yards for a pick-six.
After a three and out, SDSU would find the end zone again, this time via an eight-yard pass from Christian Chapman to Kahale Warring, and just before halftime John Baron added a field goal to put the score 31-14 at the break.
When the second half started, we all thought the Aztecs were heading for a blowout victory, but we were all wrong, as NIU totally dominated the second half of play and kept the Aztecs out of the end zone for the entire second half. When the fourth quarter started, the score was 31-28 in favor of SDSU. John Baron would add a short field goal to make it 34-28 with just over 14 minutes left in the ballgame. When NIU started driving with over five minutes left, it looked like SDSU dream season was on the ropes. After all, at that point the Huskies had 426 yards of offense and the Aztecs only had 252, and NIU had 23 first downs and the Aztecs nine, but when it mattered most, SDSU’s defense game up huge.
With the ball at the Aztecs 20-yard line, DB Kameron Kelly picked off Daniel Santacaterina and took the ball to midfield, but the offense had a very short drive and gave the ball back after just three plays. So with just under two minutes left in the ballgame, NIU had the ball and the chance to end the dream season for SDSU, but for the second time in the game Tariq Thompson picked the ball off to secure the Aztecs’ victory. Although SDSU won, there are a lot of things that should be cleaned up before next Saturday. SDSU gave over 100 yards in penalties. That simply won’t wash against better competition, so look for coach Long to keep the players focused on that during the week.
Great teams find a way even when they don’t have their “A” game, and though they were outgained by over 150 yards on Saturday, SDSU found a way to keep its magic season alive. That should tell you all you need to know about San Diego’s team.