Aztecs unload Their Frustration After Last Week’s Heartbreaker

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Stingy defense leads the way, as SDSU steamrolls Nevada Wolf Pack By Simon Samano, Assistant Sports Editor The San Diego State football team’s game against Nevada wassupposed to feature a pair of evenly matched teams, but apparentlySDSU didn’t receive that memo.

Still cranky after last week’s near upset of Michigan, the Aztecsexecuted on all cylinders, leading to a decisive 27-10 victory overthe Wolf Pack Saturday night before a crowd of 33,429 at QualcommStadium.

Plagued by mistakes and miscues a week ago, the Aztec defenseshored up its bad habits, refusing to give up the big play. Led bysenior linebacker Kirk Morrison, who finished with 15 total tackles,SDSU’s defense stymied the Wolf Pack ground attack, limiting runningback Chance Kretschmer to just 86 yards on the ground. As a team,Nevada only managed three yards per carry.

“I think we wanted to hurt them bad,” Morrison said. “If we let ateam score then there’s no way for us to win. That’s our ammo rightthere.”

Nevada quarterback Jeff Rowe struggled to find his receivers allnight, as he completed just 19 of 40 passes and threw twointerceptions, both to senior safety Marviel Underwood.

“We stepped up our game,” Underwood said, after his third-straightgame with an interception. “At halftime, Coach told us we were givingup too many yards on the back end, so we came out even harder in thesecond half.”

Added Morrison: “Our defense is not just one or two people.Everybody’s making plays, and guys are just playing great. We aredoing great things as a whole unit, not just as individuals.”

After Nevada (2-2) went three-and-out on its first drive of thegame, SDSU (2-1) began a drive at its own 21-yard line and drove intoNevada territory. On fourth down and eight from the 39-yard line,head coach Tom Craft elected to go for it, and quarterback MattDlugolecki found wide receiver Jeff Webb for eight yards to keep thedrive alive.

Three plays later, the two hooked up again as Dlugolecki connectedwith Webb for 23 yards on a hitch-route and spun off two defenders ashe pulled it in before scampering the rest of the way to give theAztecs a 7-0 lead.

“I’ve had a problem turning the hitch route and breaking insideinstead of turning outside,” said Webb, who caught nine balls for 101yards. “I tried it and look what happened – I split twodefenders and scored a touchdown for the team.”

With 3:37 remaining in the first quarter, the Aztecs started theirnext drive at their own 42-yard line. Running back Michael Franklin,who finished with 100 yards rushing, was in for most of the driveuntil SDSU reached Nevada’s 35-yard line. Redshirt freshman BrandonBornes replaced Franklin and took a draw the distance for thetouchdown. Bornes received his most significant action of the seasonas he carried the ball nine times for 65 yards.

“Every time I was in they were expecting me to block for the pass,and on the touchdown I was just able to take it up the middle,”Bornes said. “The offensive line stepped it up.”

In the second half, SDSU’s offense sputtered a bit, until it wasjumpstarted in the fourth quarter by the defense. On asecond-and-eight from Nevada’s 23- yard line, Underwood came up withhis second pick of the game after Rowe’s pass was broken up by MarcusDemps and popped up in the air. Underwood returned it for thetouchdown but was called back for an illegal block during the return.

The Aztecs still capitalized, however, as Dlugolecki threw hissecond touchdown of the game when he found sophomore wide receiverRamal Porter streaking across the back of the end zone from 19 yardsout. This play ultimately sealed the deal for SDSU, who will now lookforward to a big game next week at UCLA.

“We had to prove ourselves and show that we could come out andstill play – that it wasn’t a fluke almost beating Michigan,”senior linebacker Heath Farwell said. “We played tough, and this wasa good win for us.”