Aztecs get first conference win

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- A driving snow falling and Air
Force driving for the winning score, Kirk Morrison came up with the
play that ended San Diego State's six-game losing streak.

Kevin O'Connell threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns in frigid
weather and Morrison intercepted Shaun Carney's pass with 13
seconds left, helping the Aztecs end their longest losing streak in
16 years with a 37-31 victory over Air Force on Saturday.

"The ball came right to me and I was glad I was able to hold
onto it," Morrison said. "With the ice and snow, we knew the ball
was going to be slippery and we just had to make sure we held onto

San Diego State (3-7, 1-5 Mountain West) won its first
conference game with a balanced offense -- 232 passing, 224 rushing
-- and opportunistic defense.

O'Connell was 17-for-32 despite steady snowfall, Brandon Bornes
ran for 104 yards and two TDs and the Aztecs stuck to their game
plan despite the weather to win three straight over Air Force for
the first time in school history.

The defense gave up plenty of yards (486), but set up the
offense for a decisive, 17-point third quarter with two turnovers
and a blocked punt. San Diego State forced six turnovers in all,
none bigger than Morrison's pick at the 3.

"A big sigh of relief," San Diego State coach Tom Craft said.
"I think it's fitting that our defense was on the field at the end
and helped win it for us."

Adam Fitch ran for a career-high 135 yards and two touchdowns
before getting hurt in the third quarter, but shoddy defense and
four fumbles and two interceptions assured Air Force (4-6, 2-3) of
its first losing season since 1993 -- third in coach Fisher
DeBerry's 21 seasons.

The Falcons got little pressure on O'Connell and missed numerous
tackles, giving up more than 400 yards (456) for the fourth
straight game. That was tough, but it was the turnovers that really

"I'm going to go home later and shoot my brains out maybe, but
the bottom line is that it all comes back to one thing," DeBerry
said. "I don't care who you are, you (lose) the ball six times and
you get a kick blocked, you don't win the game against a good

Air Force led 21-17 at halftime despite three turnovers, but
couldn't overcome its mistakes in the second half.

The Falcons forced a fumble on San Diego State's first drive of
the third quarter, only to give it right back when Justin Handley
was stripped by Blake Lobel. O'Connell hit Robert Ortiz on a
27-yard touchdown pass the next play.

Air Force's Anthony Butler then fumbled the kickoff, setting up
Garrett Palmer's 37-yard field goal that put the Aztecs up 27-21.

The Falcons' next gaffe came -- no surprise -- on a punt.

Coming around the right end, Freddie Keiaho went in untouched
and blocked Donny Heaton's kick out of bounds at Air Force's 15.
DeBerry tossed his hat in disgust after watching his team give up a
blocked punt for the fourth time in three home games, and Bornes'
4-yard run three plays later made it a 13-point lead.

"We shouldn't have let the kid just run in uncontested,"

Air Force answered with Michael Greenaway's 22-yard field goal
and cut the lead to 34-31 on a 10-yard touchdown run by Carney, who
came in after Fitch bruised his ribs late in the third quarter.

Palmer followed with a 29-yard field goal to make it 37-31 and
Air Force had one final drive in driving snow, but Morrison came
across the middle to nab Carney's final pass.

"I saw him, it was just that we've got to win the game,"
Carney said. "I tried to make a play and it didn't happen. He made
a good play."

The Aztecs didn't seem bothered by the frigid conditions in the
early going, moving 53 yards in five plays for O'Connell's 17-yard
touchdown pass to Eric Miclot. San Diego State then went up 14-7 7
seconds into the second quarter on Bornes' 1-yard dive off right

Not bad for a team used to playing in balmy weather.

"We knew it was going to probably have snow flurries and it was
going to be cold, and we talked about these things
psychologically," Craft said. "The guys did a great job it's
something we can draw back on and use in the future."

Air Force, on the other hand, took a little while to get warmed

Fitch's lob pass down the sideline on the game's first play was
intercepted by Heath Farwell and the Falcons didn't have a first
down in the first 12 minutes.

Air Force finally got rolling when Fitch broke a tackle at the
line and took off up the middle for 63-yard touchdown run midway
through the second quarter. Air Force moved 67 yards in 12 plays
its next drive, capped by Fitch's 4-yard run on an option right.

Adam Cole added a 3-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes left.


ESPN Fan Shop Powered By

  • Nike Men's Air Force Falcons Blue Football Icon Legend T-ShirtShop