SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego State Football earned its first win at the brand new Snapdragon Stadium in a 38-7 rout of Idaho State.
Although the Bengals drew first blood via a 75-yard bomb on the second play of the game, the Aztecs responded with huge, explosive plays of their own. SDSU had three touchdowns of 45+ yards by halftime.
The first came by way of a Jordan Byrd punt return: The Aztecs' star player took the rock 66 yards to the house. Following a trio of punts, SDSU again caught lightning in a bottle. Quarterback Braxton Burmeister scrambled up the middle after finding no one to throw to, scurrying 47 yards for another Aztec score.
But wait — there's more!
Byrd took flight again. On SDSU's next drive, the workhorse back rushed for a 53-yard touchdown, shaking and baking defenders along the sidelong as he bounced into the endzone.
Neither team scored during the more than 14 minutes left in the second quarter.
Byrd's impact on special teams beyond his role as return man contributed to the scoring dead zone. He is also SDSU's gunner on the punt team. He downed multiple kicks inside the 5-yard line to pin the Bengals deep into their own territory. One of those plays was particularly impressive: Byrd beat the ball to a spot in front of the endzone and caught it before it hit the ground, avoiding a touchback that would've led to more favorable field position for Idaho State.
Big plays were the name of the game in the first half, but turnovers quickly became the story in the second.
San Diego State fumbled on its first two drives in the third. Idaho State nearly took advantage of one of the opportunities, but failed to convert a 4th down inside the Aztecs' 10-yard line. Bengal quarterback Hunter Hayes marched his team 74 yards down the field on a 14-play drive, only to come up two yards short on the deciding play.
That drive chewed up five minutes of time, but SDSU wasted no time getting down the field to secure themselves in the driver seat.
After rushes of 23 and 34 yards from Jaylon Armstead and Kenan Christon, respectively, the Aztecs went into cruise control as they entered Bengal territory.
A quick completion and rush brought SDSU to the redzone, but the Bengals defense didn't break. Idaho State stuffed the Aztecs on the 2-yard line, forcing a fourth down. SDSU elected to take the points, extending the lead to three possessions: 24-7 Aztecs with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter.
Both teams went three and out in the waning minutes of the third, trading punts and setting up Idaho State for the opening possession of the fourth quarter.
Offside and pass interference penalties against SDSU on back-to-back plays brought Idaho State slightly past the 50-yard line, but the Aztec defense hunkered down on the next three plays to force a 4th and 8. The Bengals sailed their punt into the endzone for a touchback.
Burmeister quickly brought SDSU to midfield after back-to-back completions above 10 yards. A personal foul on Idaho State was tacked on to the end of a Cam Davis 15-yard rush, putting the Aztecs in prime scoring position on the Bengals' 16-yard line. Two plays later, paydirt.
Burmeister hit Tyrell Shavers for a 14-yard passing touchdown, putting the Aztecs up 31-7 with 8:35 left in the game.
After another Idaho State three and out, SDSU scored another touchdown on a quick five-play, 69-yard drive. Idaho State received the ball again, down 38-7 with a little over five minutes left. Five plays later, the Bengals punted again, and SDSU ran out the clock to secure their first win at Snapdragon.
SDSU's next game is a road matchup against No. 13 Utah on Saturday, Sept. 17.