San Diego State beat Air Force 21-17 on a dark and stormy Friday — Friday! — night at the Tombstone. It was a sloppy, sketchy win with a really long pause in the middle of it. Those of us who stayed through the extended lightning delay were then treated to longer commercial breaks punctuated by occasional live football action. Whatever TV audience remained may have been in the tens of thousands, added to the scattered hundreds of diehards and fools left in the stadium.
I’ll give it this much: This is a game past Aztecs teams probably lose. They made enough plays to scratch out Rocky Long’s 69th win as SDSU head coach. No matter how awkward it felt, that’s pretty nice.
My brain is mush from six hours at the stadium and I’ll not belabor this, an objectively bad football game. Personal highlights:
- Being turned away from a level we weren’t ticketed for, then still getting there in time to see the 55-yard bomb to Trevillion and Jasmin’s touchdown on the first possession of the game. One thing I love about the Tombstone; you can sit anywhere you want with the mildest effort.
- Sharing an elevator at halftime with these good birds. No, I don’t know what the smaller bird is. If it’s a baby Falcon why doesn’t it have a blinder hood like the big falcons? Are the birds shipped to away games in a crate like luggage or do they just chill on someone’s hand for three hours? I had questions but only managed to say something like “Oh, pretty bird.”
- Sticking it out through all the delays to finally see a win, then leaving immediately. That was good.
A few great plays pulled this game out of the fire for the Aztecs — Ryan Agnew’s rollout pass to Kobe Smith, Agnew’s long scramble on third down, Parker Houston’s touchdown catch-and-run, a few important runs by Chase Jasmin, Parker Baldwin’s INT on an underthrow, Kyahva Tezino making plays all over the field — but one wet-ball gaffe by Air Force was especially crucial.
After a quick score in three plays to start the game the SDSU offense struggled mightily. Agnew backpedaled under pressure into his own end zone for a safety. Fred Trevillion dropped a sure touchdown through his hands and Agnew threw a bad pick in the end zone on the next play. Then the most shocking: Lord John, House of Baron, Second of his Name, pushed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide, missing his only attempt of the night. A baffled but not-unfamiliar dread settled over the scattered faithful.
SDSU’s defense remained stalwart, forcing a three-and-out after the missed field goal. With 18 seconds left in the half Air Force dropped back to punt on 4th and 1 from their 36. It turned out to be not a punt but a gift, a karmic offering.
AF’s punter muffed the snap, collecting the ball only in time to get off a punt easily blocked by an onrushing Kaelin Himphill, a redshirt sophomore linebacker to whom I’m very grateful. The loose ball kicked backward out of the pile and into the path of Trenton Thompson, who scooped and scored on a great runback with :08 on the clock. Without Thompson’s broken tackle SDSU probably only gets a field goal just before the half and the game has a much different complexion.
The highlight reel, such as it is:
Best Some of Aztecs Twitter
Guy tailgating with growlers of beer and a burrito three hours before kickoff under a canopy with no car: I salute you.
Sure, Agnew missed a couple open receivers and forced a few questionable deep passes. But can your Mr. Chapman — before or after the knee injury — scramble for 32 yards on 3rd and 7 from his own 11 while trailing in the 4th quarter? Not likely, friend.
AztecsKillingHim is a meteorological Nostradamus for SDSU football specifically. But if it pleases the court let the record reflect my game prediction this week was SDSU 24, Air Force 17, a mere three points off the 21-17 final. You’re welcome.
69/99 = .696969696969696969696969696969696969696969
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 solid open-handed slap in the face on the Rocky scale.
Nobody likes getting slapped. Well, actually quite a few people like it but almost nobody likes playing a gadget triple-option offense. Rock has deep wells of respect for military cadets defending freedom and for a good hard slap in the mouth when you need a wake-up call.
No way to sugarcoat it — the attendance wasn’t good. Friday at 6 p.m. is no time or day of the week for a college football game, especially not in San Diego. The official house of 25,326 was a slightly inflated figure. The student section was the least-populated for a home game this year. Rain forced fans under cover and the subsequent lightning delays sent many others home.
These shots were taken early in the third quarter, after a couple of rain squalls but before the long weather pause cleared all but maybe 1,000 stubborn souls out of the building.
What’s Next for the Football Tecs
SDSU hosts the wretched, winless San José State Spartans next Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. It’s homecoming! Come home to old alma mater and watch the Aztecs cruise to a comfortable win, finally. I’m almost positive that will happen.