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College Football: Mayden leads San Diego State to win over Idaho State 36-28

The San Diego State Aztecs defeated the Idaho State Bengals 36-28 to pick up their second win on the 2023 season.

San Diego State’s rushing attack was on full display throughout the entire game. Aztecs quarterback Jalen Mayden led the way by garnering 132 rush yards and 2 rushing touchdowns with a per carry average of 16.2, respectively. Sophomore running back Martin Blake accounted for 58 rushing yards and a touchdown and junior halfback Jaylon Armstead added 58 yards on the ground along with a touchdown. The Aztecs averaged 6.9 yards per rush as a team and all four of their touchdowns came on the ground.

Idaho State played two quarterbacks under center throughout the duration of the matchup. Freshman quarterback Jordan Cooke started the game and posted a stat line of 164 passing yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on 41 pass attempts. Junior quarterback Hunter Hays produced 145 passing yards, one touchdown and an interception on 22 passes. Hays led the team in rushing yardage with 18 yards on 8 attempts. As a team, the Bengals finished the game with 34 total yards on the ground with a per carry average of 2.3. Junior wideout Christian Fredericksen led the team in receiving by having 6 receptions for 72 reception yards and a touchdown. Sophomore pass catcher Chedon James also contributed a touchdown along with 66 reception yards.

Idaho State started the game on offense with junior college transfer Cooke under center. The Bengals went on a quick 3 and out due to the Aztecs pass rush that made the freshman quarterback hurry his throws. Mayden and the Aztecs got their first possession of the game that ended with a punt after moving the chains once. The Bengals pass defense was solid, as they only gave up 87 passing yards in the game.

Cooke and the Bengals offense looked more poised on this drive as they went on an 11-play, 43-yard drive that was capped off with a 33-yard field goal by sixth-year kicker Thomas Kopcho. Cooke started to connect on slant routes and squeezed the ball in tight windows. The Bengals led 3-0 at the 8:49 mark in the first quarter.

The Aztecs’ offense led a promising drive downfield, as the rushing attack thrived against the Bengals defense. San Diego State were within striking distance, but were faced in a 3rd and long situation and couldn’t convert. The Aztecs passing attack was a non-factor in the matchup and they settled for a 43-yard field goal attempt by senior kicker Jack Browning to make the score 3-3 at the 6:50 mark in the first quarter.

After both teams had a three-and-out, the Bengals next drive ended abruptly with an interception thrown by Cooke on the first play of the drive. The Aztecs’ offense was set up in scoring position after the turnover. Mayden ran 24 yards for a touchdown and the Aztecs took a 10-3 lead at the 2:54 mark in the first quarter.

Hays got his first start in the game for the Bengals next offensive possession. The junior quarterback has solid athleticism and looked more comfortable in the pocket than Cooke did, likely due to experience.

The Bengals moved the ball downfield and got deep into Aztecs territory. Cooke was subbed back in to try and convert a 3rd and long but couldn’t convert. Idaho State elected to kick a 33-yard field goal to make the score 10-6 at the 14:50 mark in the second quarter.

San Diego State’s ground game continued to thrive, until defensive lineman Logan George of the Bengals forced a fumble from Mayden as he tried to scramble from the pocket. Idaho State’s offense started the drive at the Aztecs 32-yard line with Hays in at quarterback. The Bengals were within scoring range and faced with a 4th and long situation. The decided to go for it but didn’t convert, thus, turned the ball over back to the Aztecs.

The Aztecs’ offense then proceeded to go on a 12-play 68-yard drive that capped off with a 4-yard touchdown run by Armstead. The Bengals’ defensive front were being dominated by the Aztecs offensive line which led to big yardage rushes by San Diego State. The Aztecs took a 17-6 lead at the 6:35 mark in the second quarter.

Hays trots out on the field for the Bengals’ next possession and threw an interception which gave the ball back to Mayden and the Aztecs’ offense. The short drive ended in a successful 41-yard field goal attempt to make the score 20-6 at the 1:10 mark in the second quarter.

Cooke and the Bengals offense went on a 6-play, 65-yard proficient drive downfield that ended in a 24-yard touchdown pass to Fredericksen from Cooke. The score was 20-13 at halftime, but the Bengals continued to hang around.

2nd Half

The Aztecs’ offense started the second half with the ball and went downfield methodically using the ground game. The drive came to a halt when halfback Armstead fumbled for the second straight week which led to another turnover. Idaho State started their next drive at their own 14-yard line and went 3 and out. Bengals punter Ross Bolger attempted to punt the ball away but he mishandled the snap and the ball flew behind him into the end zone which led to a safety. The Aztecs took a 22-13 lead at the 8:48 minute mark in the 3rd and were set to get the ball back due to the safety.

The mistakes for Idaho State continued as they were flagged for a late hit penalty on the ensuing kickoff which gave the Aztecs great field position. The drive capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run by Martin to give the Aztecs a 29-13 lead at the 6:09 mark in the 3rd quarter.

Cooke was on the field for the Bengals next drive and the lack of experience was evident. The crowd and the momentum were in the Aztecs favor and Cooke seemed rattled. The Aztecs’ pass rush picked up which led to a 3 and out. After a defensive stand by the Bengals defense, Hays is back under center for Idaho State’s next offensive possession. Hays led a strong, methodical drive downfield that ended with a 8-yard touchdown pass to James. The Bengals converted the two-point conversion to make the score 29-21 as the fourth quarter began.

The momentum swung back over to Idaho State, as they stopped the Aztecs offense from scoring for the second straight drive at this point. Hays and Cooke both played under center at different times in the Bengals next drive. The Bengals drove to the Aztecs 30-yard line until they were faced with a 4th and 2 situation. Cooke is in for the 4th down play but fails to connect with freshman wideout Aaron Blancas, thus, turning the ball over back to the Aztecs.

The Aztecs run game proved to be too much for the Bengals to handle as Mayden ran up the middle for a 56-yard touchdown on San Diego State’s next possession. The score was now 36-21 with 6:50 remaining in regulation.

Cooke threw his second interception in the matchup on the Bengals next drive. San Diego State proceeded to go 3 and out and burned a solid chunk of the time that remained in the game. Idaho State had another chance to make the game interesting and did by going on an 11-play, 68-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by Hays that made the score 36-28 with :36 seconds remaining.

Idaho State attempted an onside kick but failed, thus ending the game. The Aztecs offense had 304 rushing yards while the Bengals only had 34 yards on the ground.

San Diego State (2-0) will stay home to face Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins (Sept 9) and Idaho State (0-1) will travel to do battle with Utah State (Sept 9).

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