The San Diego State Aztecs, despite sloppy play from both the offensive line and the secondary, came through with a hard-fought victory against the Eastern Michigan Eagles in overtime thanks to an interception by redshirt freshman Darren Hall and a field goal by John Baron II.
The Aztec offensive line looked beat on many snaps, forcing Ryan Agnew to scramble out of the pocket under pressure. For his part, Agnew made many plays with his feet that Christian Chapman couldn’t, scrambling to his left or right and slinging passes to open receivers.
Another problem was the secondary, specifically the corners. Both Ron Smith and Kyree Woods got beat bad on the first step and Eagles quarterback Tyler Weigers made them pay for it, burning the Aztecs for plays of 50 or more yards. Mike Glass would also pick on the Aztecs secondary, leading his players downfield right before the first half ended to score a crippling touchdown.
Injuries continued to pile up for the Red and Black, this time to starting running back Juwan Washington. Washington was pulled from the game with two minutes in the second quarter. He would emerge later on in street clothes and wearing a sling. Rocky Long stated that he “strained something in his upper chest” but was positive that Washington would be alright.
Junior running back Chase Jasmin would take over for Washington and was stellar, rushing 16 times for 94 yards. For their part, the offensive line was able to open up some holes for Jasmin and Washington despite struggling to give ample time for Agnew. Jasmin broke many a tackle on his way to a 40-yard rush that set up a field goal opportunity for Baron, who missed the 35-yard kick.
SDSU took the lead in the first quarter on a 34-yard boot by Baron, but a miffed squib kick set up the Eagles at the 50-yard line. They would drive to the Aztec 34-yard line before a 51-yard kick from Chad Rylan tied the game up. Agnew and the offense responded in kind with Agnew rolling out to his right on a play-action bootleg and tossing an easy touchdown pass to tight end Parker Houston to give the Aztecs a 10-3 lead.
After Woods got badly burned on a 50-yard pass play, he made up for it by sacking Weigers on a blitz and freeing the football. The football bounced around before being scooped up by Myles Cheatum, setting up another Aztecs offensive drive. Agnew cashed in on the opportunity by finding a wide-open BJ Busbee for a 26-yard touchdown. Busbee, a redshirt freshman, was playing in the stead of the injured Tim Wilson Jr and the catch was his first career touchdown, surely a special moment for the young man.
With time expiring in the first half, a miscommunication between quarterback and receiving led to a pass with no Aztec receiver by it getting intercepted. A surge by the Eagles (and more poor coverage by the Aztecs) tied the game up at 10 points a team.
To begin the second half, the Eagles marched straight down the field and punched in a 37-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. SDSU drove down the field in response, but what should have been a 37-yard chip shot for Baron instead hooked right and the game remained tied. The game turned into a defensive slugfest, but both teams traded field goals to send the ballgame into overtime.
The Aztecs would finally get a play from their secondary thanks to a leaping interception by Hall, a redshirt freshman playing thanks to the struggles of the other defensive backs. Three straight runs from Jasmin inched the Red and Black into a more favorable field position, and Baron would boot the 38-yard field goal to win the game for the Aztecs in their first overtime game since 2015.
The Aztecs have a bye next week before facing off with Boise State, their fierce rivals. SDSU couldn’t have asked for a bye at a better time, as they can now get some rest and fine tune some of their issues before starting Mountain West play.