Aztecs Rally Late to Beat New Mexico 31-23

San Diego State quarterback Ryan Agnew (9) is slowed by New Mexico linebacker Sitiveni Tamaivena (26) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Albuquerque, N.M., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

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(AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Albuquerque, New Mexico

There were many reasons why the Aztecs should have lost this game. It could’ve been the three fumbles the Aztecs lost that set up New Mexico for points. Or the ongoing issues of the Aztecs committing penalties in crucial moments and killing promising drives.

But somehow, those plucky Aztecs still found a way to pull off a victory, despite being behind in the fourth quarter, by rallying for 17 points and allowing the Lobos to get a mere 141 yards of offense.

The clear defensive MVP of the game, and perhaps for the season, was Kyahva Tezino. The linebacker was a force to be reckoned with on the defense, getting involved in virtually every play and delivering big hits to New Mexico quarterback Coltin Gerhart. Tezino had 2.5 of the 6 sacks for the SDSU defense and now has 5.5 sacks on the season.

The talking point heading into the game was quarterback Christian Chapman and when he would get into the game. Both he and Juwan Washington were coming off of injuries and Aztec fans were eager to see the two back in action after a lengthy absence.

However, it was Ryan Agnew who started for the Red and Black, making it his seventh straight start. On the first drive of the game for the Aztecs, Agnew coughed up the ball after a sack and, after being recovered by New Mexico’s Adebayo Soremekun, watched as it was returned 44 yards for a touchdown. Agnew recovered and led his team 80 yards down the field, with the drive being capped off by a 5-yard touchdown by Chase Jasmin.

In the second quarter, it was time for Chapman to shine, and his first pass was a 29-yard completion to Ethan Dedeaux. The turnover bug bit the Aztecs again and it targeted Washington, who fumbled on the Aztec 32-yard line and put the Lobos in prime position to score. While the defense prevented a touchdown, they couldn’t prevent a 41-yard field goal from Andrew Shelley.

San Diego State finally got the home run play they were looking for in the third quarter when Washington bounced to the outside, got a block, and turned on the jets for a 34-yard touchdown run. When it seemed like the Aztecs were going to retain the lead, another costly turnover, this time a Jordan Byrd fumble, gave the ball right back to the Lobos.

New Mexico took immediate action as Gerhart tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass, and the Lobos took the lead. Said lead was reinforced on their next possession with an 11-play, 57-yard drive that ended with Gerhart lobbing a 4-yard touchdown pass.

The Aztecs had buried themselves in a deep hole, but leave it to Rocky Long’s squad to rally themselves to a victory. The rally began with a 75-yard passing show set by Chapman that ended with a 19-yard touchdown to Kahale Warring, making the score 23-21 in favor of the Lobos.

A three-and-out forced by the SDSU defense gave the ball back to the offense. A healthy dose of runs by Jasmin and Washington set up the Aztecs on the New Mexico 15-yard line. With kicker “Lord” John Baron II, a field goal from 32 yards out was as good as made, and the field goal gave the Aztecs the lead with a little less than three minutes to play.

New Mexico rushed back onto the field to begin a rally of their own…but it lasted a mere one play. Luq Barcoo picked off Gerhart on the Aztec 47-yard line and Juwan Washington’s 50-yard touchdown was the dagger to the heart that ended New Mexico and capped off a dramatic comeback for San Diego State in what was another close and stressful game.

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