san diego state’s late missteps prove costly
San Diego State had the football game won.
A simple first down and it was over.
But somehow this is the season the Aztecs seem to do everything wrong, much like how San Diego State played before Brady Hoke arrived in 2009 and turned around the program in two years before leaving for Michigan.
Such missteps wouldn’t be expected, either, under third-year Rocky Long, a former two-time Mountain West Coach of the Year.
San Diego State led 30-21 with about five minutes left on Saturday. Oregon State drove down the field to cut the advantage to 30-28 with 2:40 remaining.
All the Aztecs needed was a first down. This is what they got instead: false start penalty, loss of 4 yards on a run and then the killer — a flat pass by Quinn Kaehler intercepted and returned 16 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Steven Nelson. Suddenly, the Beavers led 34-30, before failing on the 2-point conversion.
San Diego State still had all three timeouts remaining when it got the ball back with 2:31 left. The Aztecs had a sack on first down but then picked up a first down two plays later on a roughing-the-passer penalty. But two plays later came a game-ending interception into triple coverage.
That allowed Oregon State to escape despite rushing for 10 yards and committing 13 penalties for 99 yards.
The ending underscored what kind of season it has been for the 0-3 Aztecs. If they don’t quickly change momentum, they could be headed to their first losing season since going 4-8 in 2009.
Long was matter of fact in his assessment, saying, “We got good kids that work hard, and we’re not performing well to win a game yet.”
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Air Force has allowed 150 points in its past three games, all losses, and opposing quarterbacks have completed more than 80 percent of their passes. … Boise State has lost two games before November for the first time since 2005. … Colorado State kicker Jared Roberts has made 14 field goals in a row. … Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham might not play this weekend because of an injured left shoulder (his nonthrowing side). … San Jose State’s all-time leading receiver, Noel Grigsby, might have suffered a career-ending knee injury last week in practice. … UNLV released its most extensive injury report this season. Among the players listed as questionable: running backs Tim Cornett (leg) and Shaquille Murray-Lawrence (arm), linebacker Tim Hasson (leg) and guard Nick Gstrein (leg). … UNR end Brock Hekking was named the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week, an award presented by the Football Writers Association of America. Hekking made eight tackles (4½ for loss), forced two fumbles, broke up two passes and had an interception against Hawaii.
1. No. 25 Fresno State (3-0, 1-0 MW). Last game: Defeated Boise State 41-40. Next game: At Hawaii, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 45-10 in 2012.
2. Boise State (2-2, 1-1). Last game: Lost to Fresno State 41-40. Next game: Vs. Southern Mississippi, Saturday. Won 40-14 in 2012.
3. Utah State (2-2, 1-0). Last game: Lost to Southern California 17-14. Next game: At San Jose State, Friday. Last meeting: Won 49-27 in 2012.
4. Wyoming (3-1, 1-0). Last game: Defeated Air Force 56-23. Next game: At Texas State, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 45-10 in 2011.
5. San Jose State (1-2, 0-0). Last game: Lost to Minnesota 43-24. Next game: Vs. Utah State, Friday. Last meeting: Lost 49-27 in 2012.
6. UNR (2-2, 1-0). Last game: Defeated Hawaii 31-9. Next game: Vs. Air Force, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 48-31 in 2012.
7. Air Force (1-3, 0-3). Last game: Lost to Wyoming 56-23. Next game: At UNR, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 48-31 in 2012.
8. UNLV (2-2, 0-0). Last game: Defeated Western Illinois 38-7. Next game: At New Mexico, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 35-7 in 2012.
9. Colorado State (1-3, 0-0). Last game: Lost to Alabama 31-6. Next game: Vs. Texas-El Paso, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 31-17 in 2011.
10. New Mexico (1-2, 0-0). Last game: Lost to Pittsburgh 49-27. Next game: Vs. UNLV, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 35-7 in 2012.
11. San Diego State (0-3, 0-0). Last game: Lost to Oregon State 34-30. Next game: At New Mexico State, Saturday. Last meeting: Won 41-21 in 2010.
12. Hawaii (0-3, 0-1). Last game: Lost to UNR 31-9. Next game: Vs. No. 25 Fresno State, Saturday. Last meeting: Lost 45-10 in 2012.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Utah State (2-2, 1-0 MW) at San Jose State (1-2, 0-0). Utah State gave Southern California all it had and nearly pulled off the upset. This matchup features two outstanding quarterbacks in Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton and San Jose State’s David Fales.
MARK ANDERSON/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL