Aztecs lose overtime thriller, 31-30, to Hawaii in final home game


Raymond Gorospe

Junior wide receiver Kahale Warring is unable to catch a potential two-point conversion in overtime of the Aztecs 31-30 loss to Hawaii on Nov. 24 at SDCCU Stadium.

by Abraham Jewett, Sports Editor

No guts, no glory.

That is the saying San Diego State football took to heart on Saturday night, during the final game of the regular season at SDCCU Stadium.

SDSU was locked in an overtime battle with University of Hawaii, and after trading touchdowns with the Rainbow Warriors, decided to go for a two-point conversion to end the game.

The Aztecs had two opportunities, after an offsetting penalty erased the team’s initial miss, but an overthrow by quarterback Ryan Agnew on a fade to junior tight end Kahale Warring ended the game, and possibly the season, for SDSU.

Guts, but no glory.

The end result was a 31-30 loss, which marked the third straight for the suddenly win-starved Aztecs, who, with the Mountain West Conference title game out of the picture, must now wait to find out if they will be invited to a bowl game.

With more bowl eligible teams than spots available, there are no guarantees SDSU (7-5, 4-4 MW) will make the cut.

“I think we could get left out,” head coach Rocky Long said. “I’ve been there before.”

SDSU won the overtime coin toss and deferred to the Rainbow Warriors (8-5, 5-3 MW), who scored twice on their possession, after a five-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Cole McDonald to junior receiver JoJo Ward was called back because of an illegal man downfield.

McDonald went right back to Ward, however, hitting the junior for a 10-yard touchdown to give Hawaii the lead.

The Aztecs responded with a 25-yard touchdown run from junior running back Juwan Washington on their very first play, but the celebration was short lived.

Washington said he was not second guessing the decision to go for the win.

“Any time the coaches called a play, that’s the right decision for us,” Washington said. “We just went out there and tried to execute. Just didn’t get it done.”

Long said Washington’s run gave the team momentum he believed would carry through into a well-practiced two-point attempt.

“We have a two-point play that we’ve worked on for about half the season that is really a difficult play to stop,” Long said. “I thought we had a decent chance to win the game right there, and there was no reason not to try to win it.”

The Aztecs had a chance to win with three seconds left in regulation, off the leg of John Baron II, but the senior kicker, who earlier in the game had a nailed a 53-yarder, was wide right from 32 yards to send the game to extra time.

“We thought we had done it just right. Thought we were going to win the game. Then John missed the field goal,” Long said.

SDSU struggled grounding the Rainbow Warriors, who came in with the FBS’ 13th ranked pass attack, allowing McDonald to finish with a career-high 452 yards through the air and three touchdowns.

Junior linebacker Kyahva Tezino, who had seven tackles and two sacks for the Aztecs, said the team was prepared for a pass-heavy attack, but still struggled out the gate.

“We knew they were a high percentage team of passing the ball,” Tezino said. “Our (defensive backs weren’t) trying to to give up deep ball. Obviously they gave up some deep balls.”   

Agnew came into the game for the first time with 11 minutes left and the Aztecs trailing 24-17, and led the team to a game tying touchdown, following a 13-yard completion to junior fullback Isaac Lessard with 6:07 left to play.

Washington, who had 87 of his 158 rushing yards with Agnew under center, said the quarterback came in with a next-man-up mentality.

“Whoever is up, that’s what we preach on our team is make plays, and that what Agnew did when he came in,” he said. “He just made plays for us.”

The touchdown toss came on fourth-and-one, the second time SDSU went for it on fourth down from inside the redzone.

In the second quarter an Aztecs drive stalled, after senior quarterback Christian Chapman was stopped at the line as the team failed to convert a fourth-and-one from the Hawaii five-yard line.

Chapman started and threw for 149 yards and one touchdown in his final home game.

The touchdown came on a 76-yard first quarter heave to senior wide receiver Fred Trevillion, who turned his first catch of the night into his third 70-plus yard score in the past two games.

SDSU was the beneficiary of two Hawaii fumbles, one which gave the Aztecs the ball at the Hawaii five-yard line in the first quarter, and one which may have prevented a score, after the Rainbow Warriors coughed it up at the SDSU 15-yard line in the third.

The Aztecs converted the first fumble, forced by a big hit from safety Trenton Thompson during a punt return, into seven points, following a 5-yard touchdown run by Washington.

SDSU went into the half trailing 24-14, after allowing 326 yards through the air.

While both of the Aztecs scores came in the first quarter, Hawaii exploded for 21 points in the second, which included 178 yards and two passing touchdowns from McDonald.

McDonald, who also had a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the quarter, found senior running back Elijah Dale and junior wide receiver Cedric Byrd for touchdowns of two and 13 yards, respectively.