San Diego State met with the ghost of games past Saturday, as the Aztecs dropped their regular-season finale 13-3 to Air Force at Snapdragon Stadium.
The SDSU (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West) offense produced an anemic 107 yards until well into the fourth quarter, shades of their poor performance to start the season before Jalen Mayden took over at quarterback in October.
Down by 10, they quickly generated 80 more yards on their final two drives, only to have the momentum broken by penalties, then killed by two Mayden interceptions, both in the end zone.
The senior, passing on third-and-16 with 3:36 to go in the game, first threw into the hands of Falcon Jayden Goodwin.
But the defense shut down Air Force, giving the Aztecs the ball back with 2:31 on the clock. Mayden connected with Brionne Penny on a 40-yard pass to drive deep into Air Force territory. On second and 10 though, Mayden threw a pass intended for Tyrell Shavers, but Falcon Trey Taylor slipped by him to grab the ball.
Mayden finished with 188 yards on 16-of-31 passing, but the team had just 187 total yards of offense, with -1 yards rushing.
With the win, Air Force (9-3, 5-3 in MW) prevailed against San Diego State for the first time since 2009.
It looked like the Falcons’ night from the start, as running back Brad Roberts gained 63 yards on their opening drive, which resulted in a touchdown. After the Aztecs stalled on their first drive, Jack Browning attempted a 45-yard field goal, but missed.
Air Force led 7-0 at the break, but it could have been worse, as SDSU’s defense stopped the Falcons on fourth down at the 2-yard line. Kicker Matthew Dapore also missed a 57-yard field goal attempt as the clock ran out at the half.
Dapore made one from 30 yards though as play resumed, and on the next drive, Browning kicked a 26-yard field goal for the Aztecs’ only points of the night.
Head coach Brady Hoke told San Diego Sports 760 that his team was “out of rhythm.” Michael Shawcroft and Jonah Tavai had 12 tackles each, and Air Force didn’t score much, but they did just enough. The same can’t be said for SDSU.
“Thirteen points is commendable, but it didn’t win the game,” Hoke said. “It wasn’t good enough.”
The Aztecs now await the Dec. 4 announcement of bowl selections to see where they will play again to close the season.