It had been about 15 minutes since the final gun, since the jubilant mass of students and young(ish) alumni awkwardly hopped the railings from Plaza into the Field Level seats to execute the first STADIUM football field storming since … ever? Maybe ever. Who knows.
A few thousand of us were still milling about in a state of euphoria as an unfamiliar disembodied voice came on the PA and told us, in the most sterile and diplomatic way possible, to get the fuck out. The powers that be expedited this order by herding us through the tunnel in the east end zone.
As we trudged up the crumbling concrete ramp, under hundreds of shoes and work boots dangling from a wire above (who knew?) a student let out his pent-up exuberance with a guttural roar. The hundreds herded into the tunnel immediately took the hint and turned the cramped rat hole into a cacophony of sound.
It was spontaneous. It was beautiful. It was like nothing I had ever seen at a San Diego State football game. I’m willing to bet we’ll never see anything quite like it again.
San Diego State 20, No. 19 Stanford 17, FINAL.
Does it seem real yet? I can’t say it totally does for me, and this is after standing on the grass at the 20 and staring at the dot matrix scoreboard for a good minute.
We’ve seen a lot of good football since Brady Hoke turned a perennial loser into a respectable program in 2010. But what we witnessed tonight was the Aztecs truly, finally announcing themselves as a national program. SDSU just beat a Power Five team on the road for the first time since the 70s, then turned around and beat a RANKED Power Five team the following week.
We have arrived, friends.
What we witnessed tonight was a game with lore — lore that will spawn tall tales for decades to come. SDSU mounted a game winning drive that included a 15-minute delay because the lights went out!
THE DAMN LIGHTS WENT OUT!
Lose this game, and that moment becomes an excuse, part of the now defunct “Aztec Curse.” But win it? That blackout amid the blackout becomes a treasured memory — the stuff of Aztec Legend.
Forty three thousand people were here tonight, but someday a hundred thousand will claim they were.
The greatest drive in SDSU history, henceforth referred to as The Drive, was almost smothered in its crib. It started with 6:03 on clock, the Aztecs down 17-13 and 75 yards to go. We all blinked at it was suddenly 3rd and 7. We all had a very bad feeling about this.
Christian Chapman then hit Mikah Holder for 16 yards. In hindsight, that was the game.
Two plays later Rashaad Penny rumbled 11 yards to the Cardinal 42.
Then the lights went out, henceforth referred to as The Blackout.
After the game resumed at the 3:58 mark, Penny rushed for 6. Chapman then hit Juwan Washington for 12. Three plays later, on another 3rd and 5, Chapman clutched up again and hit Holder again, for 11 yards down to the 8.
Then Chapman to David Wells. You’ll be seeing this clip a lot, I think:
I’m sure there are some who are going to insist on still calling Chapman a game manager. Well, if that’s the case, he managed the everloving fuck out of this game. Harassed and hammered by the Cardinal as his offensive line endured a shaky first half, he still finished 21-of-29 for 187 yards, zero turnovers and one huge, ballsy game-winning drive. The kid is unflappable.
Did you know: Christian Chapman is now 16-3 as a starter with two title game wins, two bowl wins and, now, three Power Five wins.
Can we finally agree Christian Chapman is, like, good or whatever?
Heroes on defense
Also good: SDSU’s cornerbacks.
Kameron Kelly sealed the field storm with an interception in the waning seconds and had a number of other huge plays, including rocketing in on a corner blitz in the first half for a big third-down sack of the Cardinal’s Keller Chryst.
His opposite corner Ron Smith, who kind of got picked on against Arizona State, made an interception and 22-yard return to set up SDSU’s first touchdown.
Chryst, by the way, finished a robust 9 of 20 for 72 yards. Outside of long TD runs by Bryce Love (pretty big caveat, I know) the defensive effort was incredible all around.
Despite being stymied early, Rashaad Penny churned out 175 yards and a touchdown. You know how you know you’re writing about an interesting game? When Penny’s 175 yards finally merit a mention in the 24th graf.
Roderick Rod “Rocky” Long, a legend
It was 733 days ago that SDSU lost at home to South Alabama, and the local media and (be honest) most of the fanbase called for Rocky Long’s head. Since that game, Rocky’s Aztecs are 24-4 with two conference titles and wins over Cincinnati, Cal, Houston, Arizona State and Stanford.
With a win next week at Air Force, his winning percentage at SDSU will sit #nicely at 69 percent. Tonight, he pulled his record to an even 4-4 against Pac 12 schools. It sounds like blasphemy, but Rocky’s name now belongs in the same sentence as St. Don Coryell.
Another thought: Any other coach of the Aztecs who started a season 3-0 with two Power Five wins would be thinking big about the spate of Power Five jobs that will come open in December. Rocky is probably sitting at home in OB with an open Tecate, thinking big about the fresh coat of Turtle Wax he’s going to put on his truck tomorrow morning.
Do not forget how lucky we are to have this man here.
Biggest SDSU win ever?
Yes. Definitely. Call it recency bias if you want, but I’m going to ride or die with this one.
The leader in the clubhouse was that win over No. 13 Florida State in 1977. But in context, that was really the swan song of the Aztecs’ dominance. SDSU went 4-7 the following year and fell from national relevance.
This win came with the team’s talent level ascending, with the Chargers gone and with Mission Valley in SDSU’s sights. Florida State was the end of something great. Stanford feels like the beginning of something great.
Best. Win. Ever. Don’t @ me AztecMesa.
The Aztecs will probably be ranked now (UPDATE: No. 22 in Associated Press and No. 25 in coaches), but I’m nervous. I hope the team doesn’t bask too much. SDSU faces Air Force in a massive Mountain West road game next week, then comes home to home to play a Northern Illinois team that just beat Nebraska in Lincoln. Both of those game are absolutely losable.
You the fans, though? Don’t worry about that yet.
Bask in this like a m—–f-cker.