BYU lost 13-3 to San Diego State University on Saturday, Nov. 30, marking the Cougars’ first loss since they played USF on Oct. 12. San Diego’s defense is one of the topped ranked in the country this season and the team held up against the Cougars.
“I look at the coaching staff and they have a lot of experience on that staff. Some of the staff have been head coaches and they’ve been a lot of different places, so experience-wise, you can tell they’re well-coached and that they’re tough,” head coach Kalani Sitake said before the game.
San Diego State started the game with the ball, but the team didn’t last long before sending on punter Brandon Heicklen. BYU downed the 46-yard punt and started its first drive at the 15-yard line.
BYU’s drive started with a 20-yard pass from quarterback Zach Wilson to senior wide receiver Micah Simon but sputtered after that, sending on Jake Oldroyd for a 34-yard punt.
After SDSU’s next punt, BYU’s next drive took them into the red zone and included a trick 22-yard pass from Aleva Hifo to Matt Bushman. After an incomplete pass on a third and goal, Skyler Southam came on for a 24-yard field goal and BYU took the lead with 3:39 left in the first quarter.
The Aztecs punted the ball again, and the Cougars lost the ball to an interception by Dwayne Johnson Jr. who returned it 20 yards. As the quarter came to a close, SDSU had the ball on the BYU 19-yard line.
The Aztecs ended up turning the ball over on downs at the BYU 10-yard line after a rush for no gain by Chase Jasmin.
Wilson completed a couple of impressive passes on the next drive, including a 12-yard throw to Talon Shumway and a 35-yard completion to Gunner Romney. It wasn’t enough to move the team into the end zone and the Cougars punted once again.
After the teams’ consecutive four punts, San Diego State had the ball. A drive full of short plays forward put them 25 yards from the end zone. With a pass from quarterback Carson Baker to Daniel Bellinger, the Aztecs scored the first touchdown of the game. SDSU led 7-3 with 12 seconds left in the half.
The half ended with an interesting offensive stat line. Wilson led the game in passing yards with a total of 127 yards while Baker only had 82 yards. As far as rushing yards go, neither team boasted impressive numbers as BYU’s lead runner, Lopini Katoa, had run a total of 14 yards while SDSU’s lead runner, Juwan Washington, had run for 22 yards.
BYU started the second half with the ball but turned it over with a 33-yard punt by Danny Jones after only moving 21 yards in six plays that lasted 3:18.
The next drive for the Aztecs included a 17-yard rush by Jasmin that helped bring the team slowly into BYU territory. The drive stalled and Matt Araiza came on for a 44-yard field goal. With 5:23 left in the third quarter of the game, SDSU increased its lead to 10-3.
The Cougars’ next drive ended after Wilson fumbled the ball on the 50-yard line which was recovered by San Diego’s Tariq Thompson. The Aztecs pushed their way down the field, but the drive ended with a 46-yard punt by Heicklen just before the end of the third quarter.
BYU looked good going into the last portion of the game with several long passes, the longest of which was a 21-yard pass to Shumway. The Cougars moved their way into the red zone but stalled 26 yards from the end zone, and Southam came on for the field goal. His kick swung left and bounced off the upright, and the score stayed at 10-3 with 10:09 left on the clock.
San Diego State started its next drive strong with two impressive passes to Jesse Matthews for a total of 65 yards. The Aztecs were 10 yards from the end zone, but BYU’s defense held up and Araiza came on for a field goal. The kick was good and SDSU extended its lead to 13-3.
BYU’s following drive didn’t last long before Wilson was picked off again, this time by Thompson before he returned the ball five yards to the SDSU 35-yard line.
SDSU’s drive ended with a 41-yard punt by Heicklen, and BYU took possession with 3:37 left in the the game. The Cougars made their way into Aztec territory with a 21-yard pass to Shumway and a 13-yard rush by Wilson in which he jumped over an SDSU defensive lineman. After three incomplete passes, Southam came onto the field for another field goal attempt. The kick swung left again, and with 12 seconds on the clock, the score remained 13-3. The Aztecs took a knee to end the game and they walked away with the victory.
The statistics at the end of the game showed that despite the loss, the Cougars performed well. Wilson threw for a total of 316 yards, while Baker only totaled 172. The Cougars lagged a little in rushing yards, with 78 total yards for the team. Wilson was BYU’s top runner by the end of the game with 29 yards on the ground.