Aztecs Turnover a New Leaf

Aztecs Turnover a New Leaf
SDSU Turns INTs Into Points and Hang On
All season long, a pathetic San Diego State offense handed opponents short fields because of incomplete passes, bad special teams or turnovers, but they turned the tables Saturday night in downing Wyoming 25-20 at Qualcomm Stadium. The win was the Aztecs first in conference play after three losses and made their overall record 4-5.

The Aztecs led 12-3 at halftime. Early in the second half, they were up to their old tricks again as RB Lynell Hamilton fumbled on his first carry of the third quarter, leading to a Wyoming FG (the defense, used to playing like this, held on 3rd & 3 from the nine).

QB Adam Hall then threw an INT to Cowboy Chris Dixon on the Aztecs next play. You’ve seen this bad script before as the Pokes started at the SDSU 36. But the defense held again, helped by a sack from LB Stephen Larsen.

“The key to the second half was after making two straight turnovers we held them to just three points,” SDSU coach Tom Craft said later.

That second hold forced a punt that Luke Donovan, for some strange reason, lined straight into the end zone for a touchback. It was a special teams failure by Wyoming set up the events that followed.

 

The Aztecs offense went 3 & out, but P Seth Santoro had room to work with, and boomed a 52-yarder to put Wyoming on its own 22.

Cowboys QB Casey Bramlet then threw a pass to sophomore WR Jovon Bouknight, but it was punched out of his hands by CB Jeff Shoate, with LB Kirk Morrison grabbing the rebound for an INT. The offense, which settled for four FGs in five first half trips into Wyoming territory, finally found paydirt on a 5-yard QB draw by Hall.

Bramlet threw another pick on the Cowboys next possession. He fired blindly while under a big rush by LB Adam Nyssen. The ball ended up in the big hands of DE Brandon Rager, who returned it to the Cowboys 26. Hall started the fourth quarter with a 14-yard TD pass to WR Jeff Webb, who ended up hurting himself on the play.

The left the Aztecs up, and in pretty good position, right? Wrong. The Aztecs seemed to sigh with relief that they had the game in hand (we were on the sideline, so we took note of their mood). The offense went 3 & out the next time they had the ball, and the Cowboys scored a pair of TDs to make the game close. The Aztecs could have put the game away while up 25-13, but couldn’t budge the Poke’s defense on two running plays and just a yard to go. Finally, with the game in doubt at 25-20, they were able to run the final 3:39 off the clock.

“It was a great win for us,” Craft said. “It came at a good time. We have three games left. We think we can have an impact on the conference race.”

Notable

  • The Aztecs have a bye next week, which Craft said was really needed. They’ll spend most of the extra week working with backups and the scout teams.
  • The final three games are at UNLV, at Colorado State and at Air Force. Looks like start times are noon, noon and 4pm.
  • Hamilton had that fumble, but he also ran 40 times for 218 yards.
  • Webb rolled an ankle, according to Craft, which is another reason why the bye came at a good time. He caught 10 passes, with a long of 49 yards. Jermaine Moore had 3 receptions and Robert Ortiz one.
  • SS Josh Dean was credited with 4 tackles and 2 pass breakups, but had a bigger effect on the game than just stats. Seemed like he was making all kinds of big plays. He also recovered a Wyoming onside kick near the end. Dean said after being sick, then hurt, much of the season, he’s just now getting his speed back.
  • Craft credited both lines for “capturing the line of scrimmage.” The defensive line did for the most part. The offensive line pass protected very well, but only opened consistant running lanes for Hamilton in the first quarter and the last drive that finished the game. That was done with, at times, both starting guards out. Zach Barnes and Anthony Foli played the position most of the second half. When they failed to convert on the 3rd and 4th down plays during Wyoming’s comeback, coach Damon Baldwin gave them an earful.
  • Not many more than 15,000 fans attended, with the biggest cheer going to news that the Marlins had beaten the Yankees in the World Series.
  • Photos: CB Jacob Elimimian held star WR Ryan McGuffey (85) to just 4 catches (top); Danny Negrete (50) was part of the turnstile at G (middle); Cowboys QB Casey Bramlet, who used to stink and smell even worse vs SDSU, deserves kudos for developing into a pretty good player.