When I think back on the biggest victories I’ve witnessed as a San Diego State football fan, a particular memory comes to mind for each. I’ll never forget the euphoric mass of humanity on the field at STADIUM last September following the Stanford upset. Nor will I forget the realization dawning on me, after that clutch Adam Muema first down run in 2012, that the Aztecs had actually just beaten Boise State on The Blue.
When I think of tonight’s 28-21 win over No. 23 Arizona State — a game that probably ranks just a bit behind those two in the pantheon of Rocky Long-era wins — the lasting memory will be me nearly barfing six slices of Woodstock’s pizza onto some poor souls in Plaza Level below.
I’m not out of the woods yet in that regard, either, so apologies if I end up losing my dinner in this post. That game was … something.
That ending — that horrible football torture porn ending — will be talked about for years in both San Diego and Tempe.
We’ll remember how the Aztecs went up 28-14 with just over 4 minutes left, only to see their prevent defense surrender a quick touchdown.
We’ll remember how the Aztecs recovered an onside kick and appeared to have a game-clinching first down run … only to suffer a disastrous Chase Jasmin fumble that ACTUALLY DID NOT OCCUR.
We’ll remember how Arizona State appeared to get a huge reception down to the 2 yard line with 6 seconds left, only to have the completion wiped away on review, because Trenton Thomspon’s glorious Targeting Foul Heard Round the World knocked the ball loose from ASU’s Frank Darby. Just. Barely.
Speaking of which, can we get Trenton some kind of Targeting Chain to wear this week at practice? Or maybe a Targeting Throne he can sit on while he sits out during the Eastern Michigan game?
Lord, that ending.
I’m still shaking.
What will get sadly overshadowed by the madness is the fact that the Aztecs beat the living crap out of Arizona State, for the most part. Not on the scoreboard, exactly, but certainly at the line of scrimmage and on the stat sheet.
Remember: It wasn’t supposed to go down like this at all. ASU came in as college football’s flavor of the week after beating Michigan State behind a stout run defense engineered by former Aztecs DC Danny Gonzales. SDSU, meanwhile, came in with a backup quarterback at the helm and only a close call victory against Sacramento State in the win column.
Yet Aztecs’ OC Jeff Horton and his nasty offensive line punished his former comrade by methodically running the ball right at the Sun Devils in the second half. SDSU gained 311 yards on the ground, picked up 27 first downs and beat ASU in the time of possession battle by more than 12 minutes. Juwan Washington gained 138 of those yards on 27 carries — a workload that left him dinged up and out of the game on the final couple of drives.
Get well quickly, Juwan!
Fortunately the slashing Jasmin was equally explosive, gaining 112 yards on 19 carries, including the decisive touchdown where he crowdsurfed over his fallen fullback and into the end zone.
Also, I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but Jasmin didn’t actually fumble a football tonight. Just wanted to state that for the record, in case I hadn’t.
Arizona State was occasionally able to gash the Aztecs’ defense through the air, as one does when you have QB Manny Wilkins and freak of nature receivers Darby and N’Keal Harry at your disposal. But the Sun Devils couldn’t run the football at all and they couldn’t do much of anything for the first 26 minutes or so of the second half.
It was all a red and black blur from my perch high atop STADIUM, but it sure seemed like Kyahva Tezino was in the center of the destruction an awful lot.
Hey, you know what? This game was so wild that I’m nearly 600 words into this recap and I haven’t yet mentioned SDSU’s backup QB by name.
His name is Ryan Agnew and he turned in a steady, turnover-free performance in his first career start. And he didn’t merely game manage, he kept drives alive with his scrambling and led a game-tying TD drive just before the half that included six completions, including this 9-yard scoring strike to Tim Wilson Jr.
Agnew can play a little, it seems.
With 1:46 left before halftime and ASU up 14-7, Herm Edwards decided to go for a 4th and 1 at the SDSU 11. It was, even in hindsight, probably the right call. The Sun Devils had just marched 80 yards, and a touchdown right before half would have been completely gutting for the Aztecs.
Instead, Myles Cheatum did the gutting, sacking Wilkins to force the turnover on downs. Agnew promptly led the team down the field for the tying score and SDSU went from barely hanging in to absolutely dominating.
Also, the first half of this game feels like it was 25 years ago.
Best Some of Aztecs Twitter
Rating Rocky Long’s likely enjoyment of the game, on a scale of subtitled French coming-of-age film to 1977 Trans Am with radar detector.
Tonight’s game rated a A Full Tank And An Open Road Outside of Alamogordo With AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” On The Cassette Player on the Rocky scale. Consider that Rocky Long:
- Beat a ranked Pac-12 team using a backup QB
- Beat a Pac-12 team for the fourth time in three years.
- Defeated a fancypants former NFL coach and TV analyst
- Outfoxed his former protege
- Saw his team exploit the last remaining loophole that rewards a team for absolutely demolishing a wide receiver
He’d have to say, today was a good day.
The announced crowd was 34,641, which is about what you’d expect for a Pac-12 opponent that travels well (despite the pricey $44 “cheap” seats). That announced number seems to track with the photographic evidence below.
Probably would’ve been nice if 20,000 or so people hadn’t already peaced out to the parking lot before shit started going haywire. Seriously, what about being a San Diego State fan made you feel that game was wrapped up at 28-14?
Actually … they probably had the right idea. They’re definitely going to live a year or two longer than me because they didn’t witness that shit at the end.
What’s Next for the Football Tecs
The Aztecs return to STADIUM next Saturday for some #MACtion against Eastern Michigan. The Eagles are 2-1, but one of their wins is against Purdue so it won’t be a cakewalk. Better practice that All Targeting Defense. Never know when you might need it.