LAS VEGAS – Lucas Johnson completed 18 of 24 pass attempts for 192 yards and threw three touchdowns, and No. 23 San Diego State survived a scare to beat UNLV 28-20 on Friday night.
The Aztecs led just 21-20 before Johnson found Jesse Matthews for a 7-yard strike with 3:33 left in the game.
San Diego State linebacker Seyddrick Lakalaka intercepted UNLV quarterback Justin Rogers with less than 2 minutes left in the game to thwart the Rebels’ last-ditch effort.
San Diego State, which finished with a 5-0 road mark, improved to 10-1 overall, matching its best 11-game start since starting 10-0 in 1969. The Aztecs are one of five teams in the country currently with 10 wins, joining Cincinnati, Georgia, Houston, and UTSA.
Matthews finished with nine receptions for 75 yards and had three touchdowns, becoming the first San Diego State player to score three TDs in one game since Colin Lockett‘s trio in the 2001 New Orleans Bowl.
Las Vegas product Elijah Kothe finished with five receptions for 84 yards for the Aztecs, while Greg Bell ran for 52 yards on 14 carries.
While San Diego State improved to 21-10 all-time against the Rebels (2-9), UNLV outgained the Aztecs, 394-290.
“I didn’t think we played Aztec football, especially on the defensive side,” San Diego State coach Brady Hoke. “We’ve got to do a better job. We can’t give up big plays thrown over our heads. We’ve got to coach better. We as a staff, we got to look at some things.”
UNLV lost starting quarterback Cam Friel midway through the first half and turned to Rogers, the original starter at the beginning of the season. Rogers looked nothing like the shaky quarterback who stepped in at times during the Rebels’ campaign.
Rogers finished 15 of 21 for 305 yards and two touchdown passes, while Steve Jenkins had five receptions for 176 yards.