On a scorching 97-degree Saturday evening, the San Diego State football team welcomed North Dakota to San Diego for a good, old-fashioned shootout that ended with a 49-41 Aztec victory.
Both teams flexed their offensive muscles on Saturday, as the game opened up with a fast-paced 35- point first quarter.
The action began when North Dakota senior quarterback Marcus Hendrickson threw his first pass of the game right into the hands of SDSU senior cornerback Leon McFadden, who would return the interception 28 yards for a touchdown to put the Aztecs up early.
Senior quarterback Ryan Katz and the high-powered Aztec offense would then get their turn in the first quarter. Similar to last week’s offensive approach, the Aztecs primarily looked to keep the ball on the ground with running backs Walter Kazee and Adam Muema. This approach set up constant play action throws for Katz.
The Aztecs’ second drive of the game ended with a 44-yard touchdown throw from Katz to senior wide receiver Brice Butler. North Dakota answered right back with some trickery as Hendrickson would orchestrate a double reverselea flicker and connect with junior wide receiver Greg Hardin for a 53- yard touchdown.
But the back-and-forth affair continued as Katz hit junior wide receiver Colin Lockett in stride for a 37-yard touchdown to put SDSU up 21-7. But the Hendrickson-Hardin connection wasn’t done. Hardin reeled in a seven-yard touchdown pass, his second of the first quarter.
The rest of the game seemingly followed this trend as the Aztecs looked to pound the rock with Muema and Kazee. Muema waltzed into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown to open the second quarter as the SDSU offense continued to rumble.
The first half came to a close with the Aztecs leading 35-20.
The second half would be more of the same offensive explosion.
In the fourth quarter, Kazeepunched it in from one yard out to give the Aztecs a total of 49 points. The touchdown was Kazee’s second of the game.
Kazee finished the game with 105 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. Muema rushed for 124 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown.
“The offensive line just did a great job opening up holes and our wide receivers did a great job blocking up field, so it wasn’t really that hard to find an opening,” Kazee said.
But it was Katz who stood out, throwing for 241 yards and three touchdowns on 11-of-18 passing.
“Up front, I think when you get the running game started I think it opens up things down the field,” Katz said. “It gets our guys in one on one coverages and that’s what it was tonight and you know, like I said, the run and pass game was working well.”
Junior tight end Gavin Escobar snagged five receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown, while Butler finished with 66 yards and one touchdown on three catches.
“I’m very happy with the way the offense played,” SDSU head coach Rocky Long said. “(I was) disappointed with what the defense did. The defense seemed to struggle all night.”