San Diego State suffered a rough start at Snapdragon Stadium and to the program’s centennial season, falling to Arizona 38-20 on a sizzling Saturday afternoon.
The stadium made its big event debut in the spotlight – featured on a CBS broadcast – but the Aztecs were slow to respond before a sellout crowd of 34,046 in Mission Valley
SDSU went three-and-out on their first two drives and by the end of the first quarter Arizona had leapt to a 10-0 advantage.
San Diego State opened their scoring on a 44-yard field goal by Jack Browning early in the second quarter, but after another Wildcat touchdown, the Aztecs scored their first at their new home on a seven-play drive capped by a pass from transfer quarterback Braxton Burmeister to wide receiver Tyrell Shavers. The push began after a fumble recovery by Cedarious Barfield at the Arizona 32-yard line.
But the Aztecs saw the tying touchdown, on a Jordan Byrd rush, nullified on a holding call, and on the next play, after Brionne Penny failed to hold on to a Burmeister pass, the Wildcats recovered the deflection.
Six plays later, instead of being tied 17-17, SDSU trailed Arizona 24-10, thanks to a short Jayden de Laura pass to Jacob Cowing with seconds to go in the half.
Arizona began to put the game out of reach after the half, scoring on their first possession to go up 31-10. The Aztecs got a boost at 7:46 in the third quarter, when the Wildcats flubbed a punt in the end zone, recovered by Jaylon Armstead for a touchdown to draw closer at 31-17.
But Arizona added a touchdown and SDSU answered only with another Browning field goal. The Aztecs failed to score in the final quarter, and the final was almost the opposite of last year’s 38-14 win over the Wildcats, a 1-11 team.
Burmeister, a product of La Jolla Country Day, completed five passes for just 51 yards, and his play was limited in the second half due to a hard fall on his throwing shoulder. Will Haskell didn’t fare any better, finishing with just two passes for 11 yards. Arizona also tagged the Aztec defense for 461 yards.
“We made too many mistakes and we didn’t stop the run defensively,” head coach Brady Hoke told CBS8. He added that he pulled Burmeister due to the injury, not his performance.
In addition to the debut game, SDSU honored 21 players and four coaches who were part of the program from 1921-59, as part of the season-long centennial celebration. The campus will reveal “All-Decade Teams” throughout the fall.
The Aztecs stay home at Snapdragon next week, hosting Idaho State for a 5 p.m. game on Sept. 10.