After falling behind 10-0 to open the game, the Aztecs capitalized on Aggie miscues to score 21 in the 3rd quarter and turn the game around.
Up to that point, SDSU’s offense had seriously sputtered as senior quarterback Jordon Brookshire got off to a rocky start at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, the Aztecs’ home in 2021.
The Aztecs generated just 104 yards of offense in their first two quarters, while Brookshire completed 2 of 11 passes for 15 yards – and was -6 yards in rushing.
Things seemed to finally work out for Brookshire as the half wound down. But a holding penalty on Chris Martinez wiped away the quarterback’s 39-yard completion to Kobe Smith, which had put them in Aggie territory, at the 30-yard line.
“We just had no rhythm to what we were trying to get done,” coach Brady Hoke said of his team’s early performance.
New Mexico State dominated in the half, with 248 yards on offense – 214 yards on passes by Jonah Johnson.
But Johnson’s fortunes changed dramatically in the second half, as he threw three interceptions, two of which led to Aztec touchdowns.
Fortunately for Brookshire, his did too. He opened the quarter with completions of 18 and 24 yards. Greg Bell, with a 23-yard run, got San Diego State on the scoreboard with a touchdown.
After sloppy play – a Brookshire interception and an awkward interaction on special teams that led to a dropped punt by Jordan Byrd – SDSU took the lead for good.
Cornerback Tayler Hawkins capitalized on one of Johnson’s mistakes, and the Aztecs benefitted further, after a late hit on Chance Bell by Aggie D.J. McCullough led to a 15-yard penalty.
Brookshire closed out the drive with an 18-yard run, capped by a dive at the corner of the end zone. After Matt Araiza’s extra point, San Diego State led 14-10.
Brookshire finished the game 6-for-19 passing and for 91 total yards, while Greg Bell ran for 165 yards. The defense also limited New Mexico State to just 126 yards in the second half.
“We came out there and just had a chip on our shoulders,” Bell said of SDSU’s comeback.
The Aztecs travel to Arizona (0-1) for a 7 p.m. game next Saturday.