An Aztecs' Conquest

The game ended as it began--with an AFA quarterback throwing an interception--and in between there were (what amounted to) five other turnovers committed by the Falcons as they suffered yet another loss at home, this time to San Diego State by a, 37-31, count.

Chris Field, AFAFalcons Staff WriterMORE OF THE SAME. In a season that must seem increasingly monotonous to players, coaches and fans for its similarity to other, recent late-in-the-schedule melt downs, Air Force lost for the fourth time in half a dozen home games this season, when the visiting San Diego State Aztecs snapped a six game slide and posted their first win in the Mountain West Conference by toppling Air Force.

The Falcons overcame 7-0 and 14-7 first half deficits to assume a, 21-17, halftime lead. QB Adam Fitch ran for a career high 135 yards before suffering a rib injury in the third quarter that forced him to leave the game. His 95 yards spearheaded a 220 yard running attack for Air Force in the opening half. The junior from Gillette, Wyoming made his second career start and produced the Falcons' first TD of the day on a 63 yard burst late in the first quarter. It is the team's longest play from scrimmage this season.

Freshman QB, Kevin O'Connell, led a balanced Aztecs' offense that gained over 220 yards both on the ground and through the air. San Diego State bore little resemblance to the club that hadn't won a game since September 25th and which posted a season's best point total against division 1-A competition. O'Connell completed TD passes of 17 yards to Eric Miclot and 27 yards to Robert Ortiz, while RB Brandon Bornes added 108 yards rushing and a pair of scores for SDS.

THIRD QUARTER BLUES. The Aztecs' converted two recoveries of AFA fumbles and a blocked punt, into seventeen, third quarter points in the space of three and a half minutes to recapture and extend their lead to, 34-21. Freddie Keiaho produced the game's pivotal play when he blocked a Donnie Heaton punt--the fifth such miscue this season for Air Force--early in the third quarter. SDS scored three times in the opening minutes of second half play and, because of the Falcons' largesse, never had to move the ball more than 27 yards to do so.

When the Falcons' offense wasn't busy making life easier for head coach Tom Craft's team, the AFA defense was. SDS drove seventy or more yards on three different occasions against a porous defense.

After taking a helmet to the ribs late in the third quarter, Fitch was forced to leave the game and was replaced by former starter Shaun Carney. The youngster rallied the team to a fourth quarter TD--which he scored on a nifty ten yard run--to pull the Falcons within three points at, 34-31. The Aztecs added a 29 yard field goal by Garrett Palmer midway through the final quarter to boost their lead to six points.

When the Air Force defense forced San Diego State to punt the ball to the Falcons with less than three minutes remaining to be played, Carney and the offense mounted a drive that eventually saw AFA face a fourth down on the SDS nineteen yard line with 13 seconds remaining in regulation time. When Carney forced a pass into tight coverage LB Kirk Morrison stepped in front of the aerial for an easy interception to seal the victory for the Aztecs.

BITS AND PIECES. San Diego State's win over Air Force was it third in succession against the Falcons. It was the second time in a row SDS won a game in Falcon Stadium as an underdog.

In gaining 135 yards rushing, Fitch authored his second straight game of over 100 yards on the ground. He is the only AFA player to have gained more than 100 yards against a division 1-A team in 2004. His two TDs tied him with Carney at six for second most rushing scores this season behind Darnell Stephens' team leading seven.

Air Force yielded more than 400 yards in total offense for the seventh time in ten games this year. Its record in those games is 2-5.

Air Force dropped to 4-6 on the year and 2-4 in MWC play. The Falcons will finish with a losing mark for the first time since 1993 when the team went 4-8.

AFA, 2-4 at home this season, finishes play for the year by hosting CSU next weekend. AFA will have a losing record in Falcon Stadium this season for the first time since posting a, 3-4, home slate in 1992.
 


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