San Diego State football has given its fans so much these past seven seasons; things that we never dared imagine a decade ago. Seven bowl appearances. Four wins vs. Pac-12 teams, including three in a row. Appearances in the rankings and the expectation that the Aztecs should be nationally respectable every single year.
Saturday, San Diego State football decided to give some stuff away. The Armed Forces Bowl. A potential Top-25 ranking. A storybook ending to Rashaad Penny’s incredible Aztecs career.
IT WAS NOT PARTICULARLY ENJOYABLE.
Fuckin’ ay, DJ. Fuckin’. Ay.
Army beat the Aztecs 42-35, the final score owing to some final play silliness. But really it was a two-point conversion capping off a 5-minute drive that gave the Black Knights the 1-point winning margin. It was a methodical, excruciating, seemingly inevitable go-ahead TD march.
One that never should have been allowed to occur.
Before I break down the blunders that set up the gut-punch ending, let me give the requisite tip of the cap to THE TROOPS. Army clearly deserved its hard fought win and milestone 10-win season. The Black Knights rushed for 440 yards on the strength of dynamic QB Ahmad Bradshaw and a seemingly unstoppable fullback drive. They never punted and possessed the ball for an absurd 46 minutes.
And yet, it shouldn’t have even mattered. So why did it?
Blame the five unsportsmanlike conduct fouls (four in the first half) that kept the Aztecs from seizing anything resembling momentum.
Blame the decision, with a chance to go up two scores in the fourth, to throw a dangerous pass in the red zone rather than feeding a back Army very literally could not stop.
Blame the decision to sit on timeouts and allow Army to grind the clock down to 18 seconds on its last drive, ensuring said unstoppable back would not have a realistic shot at answering.
I should probably not be so worked up right now, but I’m actually borderline offended that I had to make the first 300 words of this post about anything other than Rashaad Penny. Allow me to fix that, post haste.
What he said.
Penny entered the day looking to gain at least 107 yards to break the SDSU single-season rushing record and to add to his 54-yard cushion on Bryce Love as the nation’s top rusher. With 221 yards on only 14 carries, he achieved one milestone and probably put the other one on ice as well.
Seriously, Love might as well just sit out the Alamo Bowl now. Don’t risk it, Bryce!
Oh yeah, I didn’t even mention how Penny directly scored or played a key role in facilitating all five of the Aztecs’ touchdowns.
On the Aztecs’ first drive, he scored from 81 yards out on a 3rd and 18 (!!).
He put the Aztecs up 14-7 in the second with a 32-yard run.
He provided the key downfield blocking for Juwan Washington’s kickoff return that knotted the game at 21-21 heading into the half.
He broke that tie with a 49-yarder late in the 3rd.
He then went in from 4-yards out to give SDSU a short-lived 35-28 advantage.
Say, do you know when else SDSU should have possibly considered handing it to Penny?
/returns from emergency room
This closes the book on a 10-3 season, one memorable for wins over Arizona State and Stanford en route to a 6-0 start. We’ll also remember it for Rashaad Penny.
It just … feels like it should’ve been memorable for a whole lot more, doesn’t it?
Now we’ve got a 9-month wait for more football memories. It will be a time filled with regrets, likely coaching staff departures and … oh yeah … this shit.
Months and months of this shit.
Happy Holidays, Aztecs fans.
Pass the eggnog.
Leave the brandy bottle.