Aztecs hope what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
LAS VEGAS ---- Maybe it was the scarlet and gray uniforms worn by their opponent that prompted such an inept offensive showing. Perhaps San Diego State was confused and truly believed it was once again playing Ohio State.

Perhaps the howling winds of up to 30 mph had a damaging effect. Or maybe the loss of running back Lynell Hamilton to a hamstring injury was too much to overcome.

Or maybe the truth is that San Diego State doesn't have a real good football team. Again.

The Aztecs suffered another one of those horrific losses that followers of the program have become well accustomed to enduring, falling 13-10 to a downtrodden Nevada-Las Vegas squad before a hardly-intimidating crowd announced at 18,372.

Sergio Aguayo's second 52-yard field goal of the fourth quarter, the latter coming with nine seconds left, provided the winning points at Sam Boyd Stadium.

When the ball sailed through the uprights, it ended the Aztecs' two-game winning streak and left them reeling with a humbling defeat to the one Mountain West Conference program arguably worse than them.

"We're disappointed," Aztecs coach Tom Craft said. "It was a winnable game for us. We came off of two really good home efforts and we have to be able to play on the road a little bit better."

The Aztecs (2-4, 1-2) are now 5-18 on the road in Craft's four seasons. And this loss was eerily familiar to last month's defeat at Ohio State in terms of the inept offensive showing. Pathetic might be too kind of a description when you consider UNLV was allowing an average of 30 points and 397 yards per game.

The Aztecs had just 140 yards of total offense, didn't achieve their initial first down until one minute remained in the first quarter and never converted a single third-down conversion in 15 opportunities.

This against UNLV, a team that improved to 2-4 and 1-2, and a squad that celebrated like it had just won a conference title when Aguayo's kick won the contest.

"It's disheartening right now," sophomore punter Michael Hughes said. "Everybody's down. After beating BYU, we wanted to come in here and totally dominate the game."

This game got away long before the game-winning rocket off Aguayo's left foot. San Diego State's lone touchdown came on an 86-yard interception return by junior linebacker Joe Martin with 5:17 left in the first half.

The game was tied at 7 late in the third quarter when a Rebels mistake ---- quarterback Jarrod Jackson's errant option pitch ---- allowed middle linebacker Freddy Keiaho to pick up the ball and race 39 yards to the UNLV 1.

"Woulda, coulda, shoulda," Keiaho said. "I wish I could've gotten one more yard."

So does every San Diego State fan. Instead of scoring a crucial touchdown, the Aztecs' drive went this way: Brandon Bornes, no gain; Michael Franklin, loss of three yards, and Kevin O'Connell, incomplete pass to Jeff Webb.

Garrett Palmer salvaged the opportunity with a 22-yard field goal but the scoring drive that totaled negative-3 yards set the stage for UNLV to win on the two fourth-quarter field goals.

"We have to capitalize on that field position and we can't be looking at getting three points when we get the ball on the 1-yard line," said O'Connell, who was intercepted three times and passed for a season-low 106 yards.

Aguayo's first 52-yarder tied the score at 10 with 5:05 remaining. The Aztecs did what they did most of the afternoon on their next drive ---- three plays and punt ---- and UNLV took over on its own 38 with 3:50 left and methodically ran down the clock.

On third-and-6 from the Aztecs' 37, UNLV's Erick Jackson (109 yards on 29 carries) was stopped four yards shy of a first down with approximately 50 seconds left. The Aztecs had one timeout left but didn't use it. UNLV called a timeout with 13 seconds left and Aguayo then kicked the game-winner.

"We were running out of time," Craft explained. "We thought we'd try to ice the kicker. We thought it would be better to try to get that thing into overtime."

The Aztecs also let an opportunity slip away late in the first half. They reached the Rebels' 39 but didn't push the issue after O'Connell was sacked for a 9-yard loss by UNLV's Beau Bell.

They were intent to let the clock run out but UNLV's Leon Moore was called for a personal foul after Bornes was held for no gain on what should've been the final play of the half.

Suddenly, the Aztecs had the ball on the UNLV 28. But Craft decided against trotting out Garrett Palmer for a 45-yard field goal because it would be into the wind. Instead, the Aztecs threw a pass into the end zone that was intercepted by UNLV's Chanti Bloomer.

"I watched the kickers before the game," Craft said. "It was pushing it for him from the 30-yard line. The wind was a lot worse on the field than what it maybe looked like. It was tough."