SDSU opens 2017 with dominant 38-17 win over UCD

It was a scorcher of a Saturday night for the first game of the 2017 San Diego State football season, where the defending Mountain West Conference champions brought the heat to visiting UC Davis, holding off a late surge to come away with a 38-17 victory.

The Aztecs welcomed the Aggies to town for a battle between two teams going head to head for the first time in history. The temperature at kickoff was 95 degrees, making it the second-highest temperature to start a game in SDSU football history.

The Aztecs' defense made quick work of Davis, recording an interception during its first possession of the game. SDSU true freshman safety Tariq Thompson recorded his first career interception, picking off a pass that was tipped in the air by junior linebacker Jay Henderson.

Head coach Rocky Long spoke after the game about the performance of his defense, and noted that the youth of the squad could become an issue as the season goes on.

“This is the youngest defense we’ve had since I’ve been here by far, because if you take the starters out of there you see what you get,” Long said. “We have a couple veterans that backup that we would move around if we had to... but if we lose a couple of those veteran guys, the guys you saw playing in the fourth quarter, those are the guys playing.” 

The Aggies scored two touchdowns against SDSU's reserve defense in the fourth quarter.

The Aztecs capitalized on the early turnover, with junior kicker John Baron II converting a 39-yard field goal after a 12-play, 57-yard opening drive that was punctuated by a 17-yard-run from senior running back Rashaad Penny.

SDSU quickly built its lead to 10-0 following a 61-yard Penny touchdown run on the first play of its second drive. It wouldn’t take long for Penny to eclipse 100 yards rushing, needing only 10 carries to reach the mark early in the second quarter.

Penny ended the first half with 153 yards on 14 carries, before finishing the game with 197 yards on 21 attempts.

Penny spoke after the game about how excited he was to be getting his chance to be the team’s feature back.

“It was exciting, I mean I knew I was going to get this opportunity by just waiting and being patient,” Penny said.

Penny also made sure to give credit to his young offensive line, featuring four players making their first career starts, who held their own while the Aztecs rushed for a combined 276 total yards.

“I think they did awesome, they were blocking their tails off for us and they made big holes for us to run through,” Penny said. “They’re just going to get better each week.”  

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