As the Aztecs took the field against the Colorado State Rams, they needed to come away with a win to try and keep hope alive for another .500 or better season. Things got off to a rough start, as a CSU safety and field goal in the first quarter put them up 5-0. In the second, another field goal and a touchdown run had the Rams winning 15-0 at halftime. The Aztecs finally got their first points on the day in the third quarter with a pair of field goals, but the Rams responded with another rushing touchdown to take a commanding 22-6 lead to the final quarter.
A Jalen Mayden scrambling touchdown and a failed 2-point conversion would make it a 22-12 game with 11:37 to go, as San Diego State finally had some life. Late in the game, a Jaylon Armstead 1-yard rushing touchdown would inch the Aztecs even closer, as they made it 22-19. CSU would have possession needing a first down to ice the game, and they delivered with a 7-yard pickup to seal the deal on a crucial third down and 4. A couple of kneel downs officially ended the game, and San Diego State found themselves as losers once again.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
Aztecs have a rough time limiting the ground attack
The majority of the production in the game for Colorado State did not come from their aerial attack. The Rams quarterback, Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi, completed 17/30 passes for 202 yards with an interception. However, they were able to take advantage of the run game to set their tone early on and keep the Aztecs from gaining any major momentum. The Rams 2 main running backs, Justin Marshall and Vann Schield, both had effective days. Marshall delivered 119 yards and a rushing touchdown across 18 carries, while Schield added 55 yards on 13 carries of his own. In total, the CSU rushing attack consisted of 44 rushes for a total of 183 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Marshall had an especially meaningful game, as he made the Aztecs pay in his debut while achieving some program history in the process. The run defense for San Diego State has been an issue as of recently, and the team cannot expect to turn things around unless they find a solution and force opponents to rely on their passing game more often.
Jalen Mayden plays nice game despite the loss
Although the Aztecs ended up relying on their run game more than the passing game, with 32 rushes compared to 25 passes, quarterback Jalen Mayden did what he could to try and will his team to victory. The senior completed 19/25 attempts while totaling 128 yards. He did not have a touchdown pass through the air but was able to find the endzone himself with an 8-yard scramble in the fourth quarter.
It was hard for the offense as a unit to do anything in the first half with just 57 yards total and 5 punts. Mayden did a nice job in the second half of helping the Aztecs make the game competitive, as they fought back to bring the deficit to 3. While they came up short, he played a clean game and made the most of what he had around him.
Colorado State gets fortunate despite sloppy play
Colorado State did not do the best job at playing clean football in their victory over the Aztecs. They somehow managed to dance around an interception and 4 fumbles as they squeaked by thanks to a dominant first half of play. San Diego State was only able to recover 1 of the 4 fumbles from the Rams, which was a crucial turnover from Vann Schield in the fourth quarter that allowed the Aztecs to make it a 3-point game on their next drive. The interception was not as crucial of a mistake, as it came on the last play of the first half with Colorado State already leading the contest 15-0. The Aztecs will need to try and do a better job in their final games of the season at making the most of their turnover opportunities, with games ahead against San Jose State and Fresno State.
San Jose State, their opponent next Saturday, is looking to reach the .500 mark in their matchup this week against Fresno State. It will be the Aztecs’ final road game of the year, as well as a chance to grab just their 2nd conference win this season (currently 1-5 in the Mountain West, which is last in the conference).
The game is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. PT.