Aztecs Get Creative

by publicationarchive

By Jared QuientAssistant Sports Editor

Good football teams find ways to win.

Bad football teams find ways not to win.

That would make San Diego State a very bad football team; everyweek it finds a new way to end up on the short end.

“We found another way to lose a football game,” head coach TedTollner said. “Offensively, we knew they are a high-pressure team.When that’s the case, you have to make big plays down the field andwe didn’t make enough.”

SDSU’s season could be summarized by a single play on Saturdaynight. With less than three minutes to play, the Aztecs trailed NewMexico 17-15. SDSU’s defense had just come up with a huge stop,forcing the Lobos to punt from deep in their own territory.

Then,Donte Gamble stepped in to return his sixth punt of the night. As theball sailed toward the senior, the sparse crowd that remained knewsomething was up. The game looked almost winnable.

Too bad “almost” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Gamble bobbled the punt, recovered it, then fumbled it againtrying to make a play. This time New Mexico special teams playerShanno Kincaid recovered it on the Aztecs 38-yard line.

“I didn’t think about it, I was trying to make a play,” Gamblesaid. “Like every other time I return a punt, I was trying to make abig play and I dropped the ball.”

The Lobos tacked on an insurance sports01

field goal, and the game was over, with SDSU falling 20-15 infront of 16,538 fans at Qualcomm Stadium.

A familiar story for SDSU.

One that can’t get much worse.

Thegame, like many for the Aztecs, started with promise. SDSU scored thegame’s first touchdown, capping a 29-yard drive with a Lon Sherifftouchdown pass to Gray McNeill.

The Aztecs took the 7-0 advantage into the second quarter.

As usual, it didn’t take long for the lead to vanish. New Mexicotied the game at seven on the quarter’s second play, as quarterbackCasey Kelly connected with speedy Dwight Counter for a 36-yardtouchdown pass.

Larry Ned continued his quest to lead the nation in rushing, butwas stymied by a stingy defense that held him to 93 yards rushing.

Solid run defense was one thing the two foes had in common, as theAztecs stifled New Mexico’s run attack, allowing just 34 yards on theground.

“That was our mentality going in,” said safety Will Demps. “Weknew we wanted to stop the run and that if they were going to beatus, it was going to be by the pass.”

Late in the second quarter, the Aztecs tied the game on a 42-yardfield goal by Tommy Kirovski.

As usual, it didn’t remain tied for long.

Casey Kelly hit Joel Baker in stride three plays later on a61-yard strike to give the Lobos a 17-10 halftime lead.

A lead they would never relinquish.

The closest SDSU would get was when a Jerome Haywood sack of Kellyin the end zone cut the Lobos lead to two late in the fourth quarter.

Then came the Gamble gone bad.

Said linebacker Jomar Butler: “Other than those two big plays, wepretty much shut them down.”

The Aztecs next take their act to Utah, where they will face the6-2 Utes.