Fri, Sep 09 2011 01:37 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Abel Perez, the former place-kicker at Castle Park High School and Southwestern College, had a busy night during last Saturday’s season opening 49-21 non-conference victory against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo at Qualcomm Stadium.
He also flashed his share of smiles after each trip to and from the field.
Perez kicked seven extra-point conversions and recorded two touchbacks on eight kickoffs to highlight the victors’ kicking game. The only disappointment on the festive evening was a missed 46-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Perez led all Mountain West place-kickers in scoring last season and looks to be kept busy again this season behind the Aztecs’ high-octane offense.
Quarterback Ryan Lindley, already the toast of El Capitan High School, is quickly becoming the toast of SDSU’s football program as well.
Lindley threw four touchdown passes against the Mustangs, including a pair to Dylan Denso, to reach another milestone on his way to becoming the top signal-caller in Aztec history.
The four TD strikes gave Lindley 71 career passing touchdowns to pass the school record of 70 career touchdowns formerly set by Todd Santos (1984-87).
Lindley is now chasing Santos’ career passing mark for total passing yards to become SDSU’s top QB in school history.
With 203 passing yards in the conquest of Cal Poly, Lindley continued to move toward the top of the all-time SDSU passing mark. He made his 32nd consecutive start as the SDSU quarterback and notched his fifth game with four passing scores.
He is quickly working his way up the NFL draft order.
After guiding the Aztecs to a victory over Navy at last December’s Poinsettia Bowl, SDSU appears to be entering a new era. Certainly, the large season opening (non-KGB SkyShow) crowd of 34,384 would testify to that.
Lindley said neither he nor the team is feeling any pressure at this point of the season.
“We expect more out of ourselves, so we are going to push ourselves to the next level, which is going to make our team better,” he said. “We are a more mature team and a more experienced team. As the year goes on, you’re going to see us improve drastically.”
After sending graduates Demarco Sampson (ex-Castle Park) and Vincent Brown to the NFL after last season, the future of the Aztecs’ aerial game might have been questioned. The team had few experienced wide-outs returning, though were blessed with a plethora of tight ends.
Lindley helped quell those doubts when he connected with Colin Lockett on a 59-yard bomb on SDSU’s first series to set up ace running back Ronnie Hillman’s go-ahead two-yard scoring run. Lindley also hooked up with tight end Gavin Escobar on a four-yard pass in the first quarter and later threw scoring passes of three and 33 yards to Denso in the second quarter as the Aztecs pulled away to a 28-14 halftime lead.
Lockett had a memorable debut game. He caught an 18-yard scoring pass in the third quarter and solidified a splash debut by scoring the team’s final touchdown on an electrifying 94-yard kick-off return.
Lockett had three catches for 82 yards while Denso had four catches for 66 yards and Escobar grabbed four aerials for 36 yards.
Meanwhile, Hillman scored on runs of two and 22 yards to highlight the SDSU rushing attack.
Hillman rushed for 191 yards on 28 carries.
SDSU out-gained Cal Poly 492-284 in total offensive yards.
Now in its 89th season of intercollegiate football, SDSU has played 906 games but not one of them has come against a team from the state of New York. That changes on Saturday, Sept. 10, when the Aztecs make the 2,118-mile trip to West Point for the program’s inaugural meeting with Army.
Kickoff is set for 12:05 p.m. ET and the game will be televised nationally in high definition by CBS Sports Network and available locally on Channel 4 San Diego.
The Aztecs are looking for only their second 2-0 start in the last 17 seasons (since 1994). The first came last year when SDSU defeated Nicholls State (47-0) and New Mexico State (41-21) to open with consecutive victories. A win against Army would give the Aztecs an 11-4 record in their last 15 games — the best 15-game stretch in nearly 33 years.
Following the Army game, the Aztecs return home to face Washington State on Sept. 17. After the game against the Cougars, the annual KGB SkyShow fireworks spectacular will take place.
© 2009 The Star-News