“Aztecs Lose More Than Just a Game”
It was a testament to fortitude, to toughness, to desire.
But it turned out to be a gut-wrenching loss, after it looked like it would be an emotional high of a win.
San Diego State’s worst fears happened Saturday afternoon in Memorial Stadium in Laramie, when the Aztecs lost (34-33) to Wyoming.
Pushed all over the field, beat up with injuries to their defense, and done in by the altitude, State was on the brink of being blown out in the second half.
But the spirit of its two tough guy running backs, the grit of its young sophomore quarterback, put them in a position to win.
Christian Chapman drove his team 99-yards in (:67) for a TD, that gave them the chance to win as time expired with a point after play.
All this after Rashaad Penny and Juwann Washington had earlier returned kickoffs for 93 and 97-yards, to get the Aztecs back into the game.
All this after the defense was riddled for (487Y) by Wyoming’s do everything quarterback Josh Allen and running back Brian Hill. The Cowboys had an amazing (84-58) edge in plays run against SDSU’s nationally fifth ranked defense.
But the hope died on the point after play.
Rocky Long and Jeff Horton could have gone for a slam dunk point after kick to tie it, and force the game to overtime.
But SDSU’s defense was gassed. Long did not want them back on the field.
He went for broke, knowing his team was going to be in the Mountain West conference title game in two weeks, regardless of what happened in the cold-thin air in Laramie.
Going for the win made sense, the play call did not.
Neither Penny nor DJ Pumphrey got the ball at the two yard line. There was not pass to the end zone to their developing tight end or one of their receivers.
Instead, Chapman tried a rollout-throwback to his fullback, who was blanketed by coverage.
Deflection, incompletion, game over. Wyoming wins. SDSU loses.
But it was a costly gamble Rocky Long and Jeff Horton took.
The loss cost them home field advantage for the Mountain West Championship game. It puts them back on the road in two weeks, either back in Laramie, or at Boise State, depending what happens in the final game of the season next Saturday.
Wyo goes to New Mexico, and that won’t be easy. Boise is in Colorado Springs against Air Force.
Regardless, you can bet playing on the blue carpet in Boise won’t be easy. And it surely won’t be 47-degrees in Laramie two Saturday’s from now.
The gamble is costly also, because it wiped out the potential of a shot at a New Year’s Day game in the Cotton Bowl, one that is worth more than 6M to the Aztecs program.
It doesn’t ruin a really good season. It doesn’t tarnish all the great things Rocky Long has brought to Montezuma Mesa.
But this program got to where it is on the talents of Pumphrey and the explosiveness of Penny. Not lettting them try to win the game for you, after all they did all year, makes no sense.
Go for the win in Laramie? Yes. Agree with the decision Don’t agree with the play-call.
The kids deserved the chance to do it with their explosive stars touching the ball. The brilliant coaches made a mistake.
And in the end, the Aztecs lost more than just a game at Wyoming.