Former Helix Charter High School quarterback Carson Baker passed for 261 yards and scored on a one-yard run, and former Christian High School receiver Jesse Matthews roped in career high 139 yards on six catches but it wasn’t enough as San Diego State University’s football team squandered leads of 10-0 and 17-14 en route to dropping a 28-17 Mountain West contest to San Jose State University in an early season matchup of unbeaten teams last Friday at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.
Baker scored his first rushing touchdown of the season midway through the second quarter to push the Aztecs (2-1) to a 10- point lead over the Spartans.
But SDSU would only score once more in the game as Bonita Vista High School alumnus Greg Bell scampered in from five yards out early in the fourth quarter to boost the Aztecs ahead by three points.
But SDSU, which coughed up three turnovers in the game, could not hold the lead as SJSU (3-0) rallied with two touchdowns in the final frame to remain undefeated in conference play.
The loss was the first on the season for the Aztecs, who next host Hawaii (2-1) this Saturday at 1 p.m. in Carson.
SDSU had not lost to SJSU since 2012.
“We are very disappointed as a football team,” SDSU head coach Brady Hoke said. “We had a good week of preparation. We were ready to come out and play but we did not come out and play our best football. I want to give San Jose State some credit, obviously, but we had some penalties that hurt us, and we have to take care of the ball better. We knew what to expect but we just did not perform.”
Matt Araiza (Rancho Bernardo) opened scoring in the game on a 34-yard field goal with 6:17 remaining in the first quarter.
Derrick Deese Jr. cut into the early SDSU lead by catching a four-yard scoring pass from SJSU quarterback Nick Nash with 35 seconds left in the first half.
The Spartans then took a 14-10 lead when Nash hit Bailey Gaither on a three-yard scoring pass with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter.
The teams combined for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Aztecs led, 17-14, following Bell’s scoring run, his third of the season.
The 17 points were a season low output for SDSU, which entered the game averaging 34 points and 496 yards per game in total offense.
The Aztecs out-gained the Spartans 362-298 in total offensive yards but came up short to SJSU 116-101 in rushing yards. SDSU ran 75 offensive plays in the loss.
Two fumbles (one each by Baker and Jordan Byrd) and an interception (thrown by Baker) proved costly.
Michael Shawcroft (Helix Charter) recorded a team-high seven tackles, including five solo hits and two stops for losses, to lead the SDSU defense, which held the Spartans to 57 offensive plays.
Tariq Thompson (St. Augustine) followed on the scoresheet with six tackles and one interception. As a team, the Aztecs registered seven tackles for a loss.
“We had two pretty good football games that we won (to start the season),” Hoke said. “Each week we knew the competition was going to get stiffer. That is going to continue with Hawaii and Nevada and the others on the schedule.
“We have to go back to work as a football team. We, as coaches, must look at this game plan that we had (against SJSU) and see if there was something we did not like. We, the coaching staff, have got to do a better job of coaching.”
Baker posted career highs in completions (21), attempts (30), passing yards (261) with one interception against SJSU. He connected with Matthews on a 51-yard strike, also a career high for longest pass completion. However, Baker was sacked three times in the game for minus-29 rushing yards.
The former Highlander has logged 561 passing yards on a 62.96 completion percentage with three touchdowns in three games this season while rushing 18 times for 59 yards and one rushing score.
Bell rushed for 109 net yards on 25 carries against the Spartans to become the first Aztec running back in program history to rush for at least 100 yards in three consecutive games to start his SDSU career. He also caught six passes for 34 yards to lead the team for the second consecutive week with 143 all-purpose yards.
He set career highs in rushing attempts (25), receptions (six) and receiving yards (34) against the Spartans.
On the season, the former Baron standout has rushed for 377 net yards on 66 carries for a 5.7 yards-per-play rushing average with three rushing touchdowns while making eight catches for 63 yards with one receiving touchdown.
Matthews, who earned a start, leads the team with 10 receptions for 173 yards in three games but is still looking for his first touchdown catch in 2020.
Shawcroft, who earned his first start of the season against the Spartans, ranks third on the team with 14 tackles (trailing co-leaders Thompson and Dwayne Johnson each with 18 tackles).
Eastlake alum William Dunkle started at right guard for the third consecutive contest this season.
Nash completed 16 of 25 passes with two touchdowns and one interception in relief duty of injured starter Nick Starkel. Nash also rushed for 53 yards and was not sacked in the game. Deese led San Jose State’s receiving corps with five catches for 76 yards with one TD.
Thompson made his 42nd career start for SDSU, the longest current streak on the team.
Nevada and San Jose State both improved to 3-0 in conference play while No. 21 Boise State, which lost, 51-17, to now No. 8 BYU (undefeated at 7-0), is 2-0 in conference play.
SDSU is tied with Hawaii and Fresno State with 2-1 conference records while Colorado State is 1-1, Wyoming is 1-2, Air Force and New Mexico are both 0-2 while UNLV and Utah (the Aztecs’ opening two opponents) are both 0-3.