San Diego State tight end Daniel Bellinger, center, celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Tyrell Shavers, right, and quarterback Lucas Johnson against Nevada on Nov. 13, 2021, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The San Diego State Aztecs unleashed all of its firepower on the Nevada Wolf Pack this past Saturday night.
“We talk about the team, the team, the team all the time and that’s what it was,” said San Diego State coach Brady Hoke, whose Aztecs rallied to beat Nevada 23-21 in Carson, Calif. “It was all three groups and units working together (defense, offense, special teams). It was a great team win.”
The Aztecs (9-1, 5-1), the top-ranked team in this week’s Nevada Appeal Mountain West rankings, needed a 35-yard field goal by Matt Araiza with 1:21 to play and a defensive stop with under a minute left to secure the victory.
“I’ve had a lot of great wins here at San Diego State,” Aztecs defensive lineman Cameron Thomas said. “This one might have been one of my favorites.”
Thomas was instrumental in stopping the No. 2-ranked Wolf Pack with 10 tackles, two sacks, 3.5 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. He had a sack on first down and hurried Nevada quarterback Carson Strong into an incompletion on third down to force Nevada to punt, setting up San Diego State’s game-winning drive.
The Aztecs defense also stopped the Wolf Pack near midfield on two incomplete Strong passes with under a minute to go on Nevada’s final drive to put the game away.
“We knew what we had to do,” Thomas said. “The offense trusted us to stop them and we did.”
The Wolf Pack (7-3, 4-2) has lost two Mountain West games this season by two points each.
“It came down to one possession,” Nevada coach Jay Norvell said. “It was a really competitive game just like we knew it would be.”
Both Nevada (at home against Air Force) and San Diego State (at UNLV) will play Friday night. A Wolf Pack loss or San Diego State victory will eliminate Nevada from the West Division title chase.
No. 3 Utah State blitzed No. 7 San Jose State 48-17 in San Jose. The Aggies (8-2, 5-1) held San Jose State (5-6, 3-4) to just 10 first downs and 150 total yards.
San Jose State, which won the Mountain West title this year, has lost two games in a row and four of its last six and will need to beat Fresno State in its final regular-season game on Thanksgiving to become bowl eligible.
San Jose State jumped out to a 14-0 lead on Utah State early in the second quarter but was outscored 48-3 the rest of the game. Utah State quarterback Logan Bonner passed for 263 yards and four touchdowns.
“From beginning to end there really were no breakdowns,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson said. “They (the Utah State defense) played lights out all night.”
Utah State will win the Mountain Division title with victories over No. 8 Wyoming and No. 12 New Mexico in its final two games.
“We’ve gotten better and better all year,” Anderson said. “Obviously they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“They know what they are playing for and I think it has energized these guys to empty the tank.”
No. 4 Boise State (6-4, 4-2) got past No. 8 Wyoming 23-13 last Friday night behind four field goals from Jonah Dalmas and 102 yards rushing by George Holani.
Boise State, the only Mountain West team to beat Utah State this season, remains in the race for the Mountain Division title with Utah State and No. 6 Air Force (7-3, 4-2).
No. 5 Fresno State (8-3, 5-2) also jumped back into the West Division race with a 34-7 victory over No. 12 New Mexico and San Diego State’s win over Nevada. Fresno State owns the tie-breaker over both the Aztecs and Wolf Pack after beating both teams earlier this season.
Jake Haener passed for 300 yards and three touchdowns for the Bulldogs, which held New Mexico to just 34 yards passing.
Air Force beat No. 11 Colorado State 35-21 behind 151 yards rushing and two touchdowns by Brad Roberts. The Falcons, which play at Nevada this Friday night, ran the ball 69 times for 388 yards and controlled the clock for over 38 minutes. Colorado State (3-7, 2-4) has now lost four games in a row.
“They (Air Force) are built to run right at you and control the clock and they were able to do that, to say the least,” Colorado State coach Steve Addazio said. “Time of possession was just rough. It’s what they do best and they did it.”
UNLV (2-8, 2-4) jumped up to No. 9 with its second consecutive victory, 27-13 over No. 10 Hawaii in Las Vegas. UNLV running back Charles Williams ran for 266 yards and three touchdowns on a program-record 38 carries.
Hawaii, which scored on a 79-yard pass from Chevan Cordeiro to Nick Mardner on the game’s first play, ran for just 57 yards on 28 carries.
The Rebels controlled the ball for nearly 40 minutes and held Hawaii to just 240 total yards.
“Pitching a shutout from the first play on, 59 minutes of no touchdowns allowed, I thought they did a fantastic job,” said UNLV coach Marcus Arroyo, who has now won two games in a row after losing 14 in a row to start his head coaching career.
The Nevada Appeal’s Mountain West football rankings for the week of Nov. 15:
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (9-1, 5-1). Last week: San Diego State 23, Nevada 21. This week: San Diego State at UNLV, Friday.
2. NEVADA (7-3, 4-2). Last week: San Diego State 23, Nevada 21. This week: Air Force at Nevada, Friday.
3. UTAH STATE (8-2, 5-1). Last week: Utah State 48, San Jose State 17. This week: Wyoming at Utah State, Saturday.
4. BOISE STATE (6-4, 4-2). Last week: Boise State 23, Wyoming 13. This week: New Mexico at Boise State, Saturday.
5. FRESNO STATE (8-3, 5-2). Last week: Fresno State 34, New Mexico 7. This week: Bye.
6. AIR FORCE (7-3, 4-2). Last week: Air Force 35, Colorado State 21. This week: Air Force at Nevada, Friday.
7. SAN JOSE STATE (5-6, 3-4). Last week: Utah State 48, San Jose State 17. This week: Bye.
8. WYOMING (5-5, 1-5). Last week: Boise State 23, Wyoming 13. This week: Wyoming at Utah State, Saturday.
9. UNLV (2-8, 2-4): Last week: UNLV 27, Hawaii 13. This week: San Diego State at UNLV, Friday.
10. HAWAII (4-7, 1-5). Last week: UNLV 27, Hawaii 13. This week: Colorado State at Hawaii, Saturday.
11. COLORADO STATE (3-7, 2-4). Last week: Air Force 35, Colorado State 21. This week: Colorado State at Hawaii, Saturday.
12. NEW MEXICO (3-7, 1-5). Last week: Fresno State 34, New Mexico 7. This week: New Mexico at Boise State, Saturday.