It was far from pretty. The rust on both sides was evident and the breaks were abundant. Fortunately for San Diego State Coach Brady Hoke and the Aztecs, most of the breaks went their way.
The biggest of these breaks came at the conclusion of the first quarter, when Ohio’s star QB and NFL draft hopeful Kurtis Rourke went down with what was called a lower body injury. Heading into the game, Rourke was unanimously tabbed as the player to watch in the contest. The truth is, his exit at the end of the first quarter in a 3-3 tilt greatly changed the complexion of the rest of the game.
Despite losing their engine, Ohio managed to grab a 6-3 lead with just under five minutes remaining before the half thanks to a 40-yard Gianni Spetic field goal. That would be the peak for the Bobcats.
Aztec QB Jalen Mayden broke the ice on the end zone for the Aztecs as the first half expired, finding tight end Mark Redman to put them ahead 10-6 at the break.
This was a lead they would not relinquish. The third quarter passed quietly. Both teams held pat, but San Diego threatened as the quarter closed. That drive resulted in a field goal with just under 14 minutes left in the game to put the Aztecs up 13-6.
The Aztecs defense was stout all day. Three interceptions of Ohio’s second string QB C.J. Harris hamstrung any chance Ohio had to rally throughout the game.
The offense was able to take advantage of the strong defensive performance with just under 6 minutes remaining, providing crucial insurance when Mayden found Redman for the duo’s second touchdown connection of the day.
The insurance did prove to be necessary for the Aztecs, as Harris and the Bobcats quickly drove down the field and scored to get within striking distance. Despite this, it was too little too late.
Ohio couldn’t execute the onside kick, and Mayden kneeled the clock out for a 20-13 Aztecs victory on opening night.
Mayden finished the game 17-27 with 164 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
The Aztecs play again at home next Saturday against Idaho State at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.