A week of upheaval for San Diego State led to a late comeback and a 16-14 win against Hawaii Saturday at Snapdragon Stadium.
Add a fresh quarterback, Jalen Mayden, to the changes – a shift in assignment for new offensive coordinator Jeff Horton and a new hire in quarterbacks coach Ryan Lindley – the Aztecs have logged this week.
Those changes paid dividends Saturday – and how. With Braxton Burmeister held back due to concussion protocols, Mayden, a QB who converted to a safety for SDSU, threw for 322 yards on 24-for-36 passing, with one touchdown and no interceptions.
How does that compare to his counterparts? In five games, the Aztecs had generated a total of 328 yards passing.
Mayden thanked this teammates after the win for their embrace and belief in him despite the big changes. “We just put it all into motion,” he told the CBS Sports Network.
The teams played an almost scoreless first half, until West Hills High alum Jack Browning broke through for the Aztecs (3-3, 1-1 in the Mountain West) with a 45-yard field goal with 39 seconds to go in the second quarter.
They added a touchdown to begin the third quarter on a Mayden 15-yard pass to Jordan Byrd, who ran another 13 yards for the score.
Hawaii answered with a six-play drive to cut into SDSU’s lead, at 10-7. Browning extended the lead in the fourth quarter with a 30-yard field goal, but then faltered on one from 31 yards – his first miss this season – with less than five minutes remaining to give Hawaii (1-4, 0-1 in the MW) a chance.
The Rainbow Warriors didn’t waste it. Dedrick Parson broke tackles to complete a seven-play drive with a 22-yard run and give his team its first lead of the game, at 14-13.
Nor did Browning squander his chance at redemption. Mayden, who had 1:19 to move the ball up field, did so, capped by a 16-yard pass to Brionne Penny. So, with 10 seconds on the clock, the Aztecs turned to their senior kicker and this time he nailed the 26-yard field goal for the win.
“That really was a mentally tough kick that he made,” head coach Brady Hoke told San Diego Sports 760.
With the victory, the Aztecs head into their bye week, then resume play on the road Oct. 22 against Nevada.