One week after he was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week, John Baron II came through in the clutch to secure the win for San Diego State over Eastern Michigan on Saturday night in SDCCU Stadium.
Down 20-17, a botched call by the officials late in the fourth quarter meant that it was all up to Baron to tie the game and send it to overtime. After Ryan Agnew scrambled out of the pocket to connect with tight end Parker Houston for what would have been a first down at the Eagles’ (2-2) 15-yard-line, officials ruled Agnew was out of bounds before delivering the pass.
The kick was nerve-wracking for Baron. He had missed a 36-yard attempt midway through the third quarter. This time, he needed to make a 50-yarder push the game to over time.
“It was a pressure kick, but I’m happy it went in,” he said.
The kick itself was scary, Baron said.
“We went out there and the snap was high,” he said. “We were kind of rushed.”
After a Darren Hall interception off Eastern Michigan‘s Mike Glass on the second play of overtime, Baron hit a 38-yarder to clinch the game.
After the game, Aztecs coach Rocky Long said he told Baron he was mad Baron had missed the field goal in the third quarter.
“But I forgive him,” Long said. “Because he made those two at the end.”
Baron opened the score for the Aztecs (3-1) with a 34-yard kick in the first quarter.
Having a special teams weapon like Baron “means the world,” especially when the team is bogged down in situations like the ones Saturday, Agnew said.
“John’s one of the best I’ve ever seen kick the football,” he said. “And he’s the captain of our football team and you can see why he’s the captain. In pressure situations, he rose to the challenge.”
Agnew threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns, one to Houston and one to J.B. Busbee.
Starting running back Juwan Washington came into the game with a toe injury suffered last week in the win over Arizona State. He was taken out of the game after the second quarter for an upper chest strain, Long said.
“The doctors seem real positive that he’s going to be OK,” Long said. Though doctors won’t know for sure until after further tests Sunday, he said.
The Aztecs came into the season as healthy as they’ve ever been, but a string of injuries from starters have plagued the team. Starting quarterback Christian Chapman is out for at least three more weeks because of an MCL sprain.