Up until the last three seasons, Air Force has always been a thorn in San Diego State’s side and Saturday it was no different.
The Falcons dominated the first quarter amidst rain, thunder and lightning — something the No. 22 Aztecs, who were trying to get their first win as a ranked team in 40 years, aren’t used to. San Diego State, however, was able to bounce back for a 28-24 victory at Falcon Stadium.
— SDSU Football (@Aztec_Football) September 24, 2017
This is the first time the Aztecs are 4-0 to start the season since 1981. The last time SDSU defeated an opponent while nationally ranked was in 1977. This was the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams.
The Aztecs trailed 9-0 before the game was delayed with 7:56 remaining in the second quarter because of lightning.
“I think we didn’t handle the weather very well,” Aztec coach Rocky Long said. “I think the weather puts us in a bind. I think it plays to (Air Force’s) offense a little bit, especially since they got their fullback going.”
Under NCAA‘s rules, players must be removed from the field for safety reasons any time a lightning strike within eight miles of the venue and the game cannot resume until 30 minutes after the last lightning strike.
The announced attendance was 27,575 before the game was interrupted for 1 hour and 28 minutes. After the delay, the attendance at the stadium was around a couple dozens, mainly cadets. The Aztecs, however, took the delay in stride and came back as a different team than the one that played before the delay.
“We came out after that delay and we told ourselves we can’t put ourselves in the hole anymore,” running back Rashaad Penny said. “We really couldn’t get our feet on the ground and we really couldn’t move. So I’m glad it stopped raining.”
San Diego State had only 18 offensive yards in the first 1 1/2 quarters in heavy rain. After the delay, the Aztecs had 349 yards.
Air Force, however, still put up a good fight after the delay. After Penny gave SDSU’s its first lead at the end of the third quarter, 14-9, the lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter.
Falcon quarterback Arion Worthman took back the lead with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 17-14. SDSU responded back with 28-yard touchdown pass from Christian Chapman to David Wells for a 21-17 lead. Air Force running back Tim McVey made it a 24-21 with a 12-yard touchdown run.
Penny scored the decisive touchdown on a 53-yard run with 5:39 left in the game. Safety Trey Lomax stopped an Air Force rally for good in the final minute with an interception that put the game away.
Penny records his fourth consecutive 100-yard game and became the 14th Aztec with a career 2,000 rushing yards. He is now ranked 12th all-time at SDSU with 2,124 yards.
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