Maybe there was nothing of real consequence on the line Saturday night as the Aztecs played out the string against Hawai’i. We walked into the Tombstone with some concern that a seven-win SDSU team in the improved Mountain West could get left without a bowl bid. That’s possible, though consensus seems to be that the only bowl-eligible team in Southern California will merit a forgettable postseason invite.
But in a larger sense, the 31-30 overtime loss felt like the night our legends and myths dissipated into mist before our eyes.
The SDSU defense — still ranked 12th nationally entering the day — gave up 516 yards while being repeatedly torched by an exotic strategy, the “forward pass.” Shutting out the ‘Bows in the second half of regulation was admirable but ultimately not enough.
Rocky Long, our one-man Mt. Rushmore of resurrected football success, stuck with his senior QB too long, maneuvered for a game-winning field goal that failed, then couldn’t dial up the winner when he decided to go for two in overtime like his Econoline was double-parked outside. Losing that way on your home field to a 17.5-point underdog is a big chink in the armor.
And perhaps most tragic of all; the former Lord John, House of Baron, Second of His Name, Boomer of Kickoffs and 50+ Field Goals, the Redeemer, the Future NFL Kicker … dethroned. Baron missed what should’ve been an automatic 32-yard chip shot to win the game as time expired. It’s a brutal career capstone for the local kid who had been pre-enshrined as the best SDSU kicker of all time.
The ‘Bows had every right to feel salty. Getting their first win in San Diego since the Reagan administration is a great achievement.
We could justifiably pinpoint this infuriating blown call in overtime as the crux of this loss.
After Baron’s dagger-in-the-heart miss in regulation, the Aztecs received a small bit of fortune by winning the overtime coin toss. Hawai’i took the ball first and after a false start penalty, faced a 3rd and 11. A completed pass to the 11 yard line was ruled complete, then upheld after a review by whatever clownish replay process Mountain West officials are currently using.
If the replay officials and ESPN’s Z-crew don’t blow that review, Hawai’i has to kick a 44-yard field goal on 4th and 11 and Juwan Washington walks off the win with his first-play touchdown run in OT.
Instead, the real turning point is Baron’s miss with the score tied and :03 left in the game.
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.
Today’s game rated a Dropping a Six-Pack of Michelob Bottles on the Sidewalk on the Rock-o-Meter. One of the bottles (i.e. lowest-tier bowl bid) didn’t break, spinning on the cement and getting all sandy. Rock ruefully sips that one salvaged beer as a montage of decisions and failed plays haunts his every thought.
From our perch on visitor’s side press I guessed all souls in the building at 22-25k, so the announced attendance of 28,014 is no egregious inflation. Hawai’i fans showed up in solid numbers and it was a respectable post-holiday crowd under the circumstances.
What’s next for the Football ‘Tecs
A very low-grade bowl game, we hope, followed by an off-season of recriminations and searched souls.