Johnson, San Diego St. beat No. 24 UTSA 38-24 in Frisco Bowl

National Sports

San Diego State quarterback Lucas Johnson (7) looks to pass during the first half of the Frisco Bowl NCAA college football game against UTSA, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Lucas Johnson passed for a career-best 333 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for another score as San Diego State beat No. 24 UTSA 38-24 in the Frisco Bowl on Tuesday night for the Aztecs’ program-record 12th win of the season.

Jesse Matthews caught touchdown passes of 11 and 20 yards and set career marks with 11 catches and 175 yards receiving. Tyrell Shavers caught the other touchdown pass, a 24-yarder.

Greg Bell also scored on a 1-yard run for San Diego State (12-2). Johnson completed 24 of 36 passes.

“Coach (Brady Hoke) was preaching all bowl practice: ‘Win 12 … Win 12 … Win 12,’ ” Johnson said. “We were happy we able to go out there and execute for him.”

Mattthews was named the game’s offensive MVP. Aztecs freshman safety CJ Baskerville, who had an interception and nine tackles, was the defensive MVP.

“There have been some great teams come through here,” Matthews said. “To be the first team to win 12 games is very special.”

San Diego State kicker-punter Matt Araiza made a 33-yard field goal and finished the season with an NCAA-record 51.19 yards per punt. Araiza broke the mark set by Texas A&M’s Braden Mann in 2018 (50.98).

Frank Harris threw touchdown passes of 12 yards to De’Corian Clark and 4 yards to Zakhari Franklin, and Brenden Brady scored on a 2-yard run for UTSA (12-2). Hunter Duplessis kicked a 41-yard field goal for the Roadrunners.

“I’ve been a head coach 17 years. Unfortunately, I’ve only won my last game three times,” second-year UTSA coach Jeff Traylor said. “So, I’ve had to give this speech quite a bit. We’re going to continue to play great teams last, and that was a really great team we played.”

UTSA played without junior running back Sincere McCormick, Conference USA’s offensive player of the year. McCormick, who ranks seventh in the FBS in rushing (113.8 yards per game), was one of five UTSA players who opted out in advance of next year’s NFL draft.

Traylor said the Roadrunners were missing about two dozen players for various reasons – grades, COVID-19, flu, injuries and those who opted out.

“We had enough tonight,” Traylor said. “We just didn’t get it done, and that’s on me.”

San Diego State came in second in FBS in rushing defense at 77.5 yards per game, allowed 79 in the first quarter but then limited UTSA to 38 the rest of the way.

THE TAKEAWAY

San Diego State: Simply qualifying for a bowl this season would have been accomplishment enough for a program that has driven 230 miles roundtrip to play its home games in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson for the last two seasons. Instead, they beat Pac-12 champion Oregon and reached the Mountain West championship game.

UTSA: Coach Jeff Traylor likes to check off boxes. This season, he checked off the Roadrunners’ first conference championship. Still ahead is the box for the Roadrunners’ first bowl win after three tries.

HATS OFF

Traylor, a longtime Texas high school football coach, wore a THSCA cap given to him for this game by the Texas High School Coaches Association.

“Those guys are the reason I’m in this chair,” Traylor said. “They might be ready to kick me out of the club.”

NOTES

Bell rushed for 102 yards giving him 1,092 for the season to become the 18th San Diego State player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. … UTSA safety Rashad Wisdom sat out the first half after being penalized for targeting in the Roadrunners’ previous game, the C-USA title win over Western Kentucky. … Baskerville, from nearby North Richland Hills, had about 25 relatives and friends in attendance.

UP NEXT

San Diego State: The Sept. 3 opener against Arizona will mark the debut of new Snapdragon Stadium on the site of the old stadium that was also home to baseball’s Padres and football’s Chargers beginning in the 1960s.

UTSA: The Roadrunners’ 12th season, 11th in FBS, will feature arguably the biggest game in program history – at Texas on Sept. 21.

___

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