San Diego State lost to Oregon State 26-9 on Saturday, keeping the game close until the last quarter before falling short.
Playing on the road and entering the game as a 24-and-a-half-point underdog against the No. 16/17 Beavers, the Aztecs nonetheless remained within range through halftime despite a sluggish offense.
Much of that had to do with the Oregon State defense, which racked up six sacks and one interception in the red zone.
“I thought we did some good things,” coach Brady Hoke told San Diego Sports 760, citing “execution that was better than last week.”
The Beavers scored on their first possession with the help of a tackle-breaking 43-yard run by Damien Martinez. That led to a 48-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. It could’ve been worse, as a tripping penalty forced Oregon State into a long third down that they failed to convert.
The Aztecs had a chance to tie the game on their next possession, but after controlling the ball for more than five minutes, kicker Jack Browning missed a 48-yard field goal wide right.
But the defense hung tough, allowing Oregon State to pick up two first downs on their next drive, but eventually forcing them to settle for a 44-yard field goal, making it a 6-0 game.
Oregon State soon broke through. After forcing the Aztecs to punt on their next possession, the Beavers ran an 80-yard drive that ended with a touchdown as quarterback DJ Uiagalelei rolled out right and then pitched it across his body to the left to lineman Joshua Gray for a 3-yard scoring run. A failed two-point conversion attempt made it 12-0 Beavers.
After both teams traded three and outs, the Aztecs got the ball again. They drove 31 yards in about a minute and a half, allowing Browning to punch in a 51-yard goal, cutting Oregon State’s advantage to 12-3.
That would be it for the first half, when the Beavers held the Aztecs to a total of 139 yards in the half and only 23 rushing yards.
After halftime, Oregon scored on a drive that included some big plays – a 20-yard pass, a 31-yard pass and an 18-yard reverse – before Uiagalelei ran it in for a one-yard touchdown, as his team’s lead grew to 19-3.
The score would stay that way into the start of the fourth quarter. The Aztecs suddenly showed some life on a 9-play, 57-yard scoring drive. They were helped by a face-mask penalty against Oregon State before Jaylon Armstead ran it in for a 6-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 19-9 after a two-point conversion failed.
Yet Oregon State responded immediately. On the first play of their next drive, Uigalelei threw a quick screen pass to receiver Anthony Gould that turned into a 75-yard touchdown,
The career-long touchdown play for the former Clemson quarterback bumped the Beavers’ lead up again. to 26-9.
The Aztecs used a hurry-up offense on their next drive to get close to the goal line, but Jalen Mayden was intercepted in the end zone. Oregon State returned the favor on the very next possession by throwing their own interception. SDSU, however, did not capitalize, with Browning missing a 49-yard field goal.
That left Oregon State to run the clock down. For the Aztecs, though, there was good among the bad.
Oregon State had been averaging 48.5 points per game on the year, but the Aztecs defense had some big plays, including two interceptions, to keep them far below their average.
On the bad side, the Beavers limited the Aztecs’ usually strong running game to 70 yards. As for passing, Mayden finished with 256 yards, but no touchdowns.
Hoke lamented the offense’s failure to capitalize on opportunities.
“We have to catch the ball better. Had some drops. Can’t do that,” he said.
After starting the season with two victories against Ohio and Idaho State, and a loss to UCLA, the Aztecs now find themselves at 2-2. They start their Mountain West conference schedule when they take on Boise State at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Snapdragon Stadium.
“We’re giving up too many big plays. If we can work on that, then we’ll be OK,” Hoke said.