Comeback kids defeat Aztecs

Comeback kids defeat Aztecs

The San Diego State Aztecs fell short of a chance to put another hurdle in front of TCU’s postseason pursuit.Instead of being a hurdle, the football team was little more than a speed bump en route to a 45-33 loss to the Horned Frogs at home Saturday night.

Last year, SDSU was dominated by the Horned Frogs on the road to the tune of 52-0 in Fort Worth. The Aztecs were down 38-0 at halftime and were out-gained by 537 yards.

It was an ugly showing in an even uglier season in 2006.

Saturday, in front of 18,350 fans at Qualcomm Stadium, the story started differently. SDSU (4-7, 3-4 in Mountain West Conference) jumped out to a 17-0 advantage in the first quarter, thanks in part to a pair of TCU fumbles. Senior quarterback Kevin O’Connell connected with his classmate, wide receiver Chaz Schilens, for a 97-yard touchdown pass – the longest in Aztec history.

Then the winds of fortune shifted.

In a rehashing of last year’s performance, the Horned Frogs posted the next 21 points on scoring drives of 74, 75 and 65 yards. TCU sophomore tailback Joseph Turner accounted for the Horned Frogs’ third score and finished the night with 226 rushing yards and four touchdowns. This performance earned Turner the Mountain West Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Week honor after the contest.

SDSU managed to score before the break to re-gain its lead, but that was only a facade that the statistics had already revealed with stunning detail.

After two quarters, the distance between TCU (7-5 4-4) and the Aztecs – numerically speaking – was as long as the football field on which the two teams played.

The Horned Frogs had 24 first downs to SDSU’s seven. TCU converted on 9-of-12 third-downs; the Aztecs succeeded on just 1-of-7. The Horned Frogs held the ball for more than 21 minutes. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out what that means.

SDSU, however, still held a lead.

That didn’t last.

TCU quickly scored 21 points in the third quarter, leaving the Aztecs in its wake.

“Hats off to TCU,” SDSU head coach Chuck Long said. “After we got ’em down, they hung in there and came back and fought to get back in the game and eventually won it.”

As SDSU slipped farther behind, frustration set in.

The Aztecs stalled on their first drive of the period, going three-and-out, leaving O’Connell openly frustrated on his own 1-yard line.

The referees didn’t call what might have been defensive pass interference on the Horned Frogs halfway through the same period, and Long was none too pleased, uncharacteristically yelling on the field.

At the final whistle, SDSU had allowed 694 total yards and a school-record 39 first downs.

“It’s obviously not the best feeling in the world,” said O’Connell, who converted 26-of-51 passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns. “Tonight was just one of those games.