Lucas Johnson threw three touchdown passes to Jesse Matthews, helping No. 19 San Diego State escape Las Vegas with a 28-20 victory over UNLV in Mountain West play on Friday night.
Andrew Aleki returned an interception for touchdown for the second time this season for the Aztecs (10-1, 6-1 MW), who reached double digits in victories for the fifth time in the past seven seasons. Seyddrick Lakalaka added an interception to end the Rebels’ last drive.
UNLV’s Justin Rogers replaced injured Cameron Friel in the second quarter and completed 15 of 21 passes for 305 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Junior Steve Jenkins caught five passes for a career-high 176 yards while Zyell Griffin and Giovanni Fauolo had scoring receptions for the Rebels (2-9, 2-5).
Jacoby Windman racked up three sacks for UNLV, but star runner Charles Williams was held to 35 yards on 16 carries.
Johnson completed 18 of 24 passes for 192 yards and one interception for the Aztecs, and Matthews caught nine passes for 75 yards. The West division leaders were outgained 394 yards to 290 while beating the Rebels for the 16th time in the past 20 meetings.
Friel was carted off with a toe injury early in the second quarter. He completed 6 of 13 passes for 67 yards and the interception Aleki brought back for a score.
The Rebels pulled within 21-17 in the third quarter after driving 94 yards on six plays. Rogers teamed up with Jenkins on an 80-yard pass play to the San Diego State 6-yard line and later tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Fauolo with 8:24 left in the period.
Daniel Gutierrez kicked a 22-yard field goal with 1:13 left in the third quarter to pull UNLV within one.
San Diego State stretched its lead to eight on Johnson’s 7-yard scoring pass to Matthews with 3:33 left in the contest. Lakalaka intercepted Rogers with 1:45 remaining, and the Aztecs ran out the clock.
Johnson and Matthews teamed up on their first two touchdowns late in the second quarter as San Diego State took a 21-10 halftime lead.
Matthews caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Johnson to give the Aztecs a 14-10 edge with 2:31 left. They connected again on a 24-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left.
The Aztecs’ first points came when Aleki picked up the interception off a deflection and returned it 16 yards to give his team a 7-3 lead with 5:15 remaining in the first quarter.
UNLV moved ahead 10-7 when Rogers connected with a wide-open Griffin on a 43-yard scoring pass with 6:13 left in the half.
–Field Level Media